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Old 04-03-2014, 09:26 AM   #31
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Living life is about choosing and dealing with risks. We each have our personal tolerance levels for risk. And we each choose in each circumstance whether to ignore risk, do something to mitigate it, or to avoid the circumstance altogether. If you use "bear safe" practices, you're doing it to mitigate risk. You can't (in general) eliminate a the risk unless you avoid it altogether.

Having said that, some risk mitigation techniques actually only mitigate the perception of risk. "Risk placebo" if you like. I get the feeling here that some are suggesting that bear spray falls into this category. I don't believe that's true, but even if it's only making your spouse more comfortable, maybe that's good enough.

But, if you're serious about mitigating risk, you need to understand your tools and be objective in choosing them. Carrying bear spray won't do you any good at all if you don't know how to use it.

My opinion: put a lot of effort into avoiding attractants around your camp site, shore, dock, trails, etc... make noise when you're hiking... dogs on leash at all times in bear country... and that's good enough for me in "normal" bear country.

I would consider bear spray or going armed in more serious bear country, but as I have no experience with bear spray and little experience with fire arms, there would be some training involved before that trip.
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Old 04-03-2014, 09:45 AM   #32
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Although I have carried out many of those outdoor activities over much of my life, my experiences with bears have been limited mostly to watching them run away when they see a human.
This is my experience too. I have seen way more rear ends of bears in the wild, than from the front.

Even around more populated trailer camping areas, where in the past there used to be more conflict, education has made a huge difference in bear problems. People are understanding how better to react with bears, and to not feed them.

One of my funniest (looking back only) interactions with a bear was when I was a teen in Air Cadets, and we were at a wilderness camp. We were playing Capture the Flag, and how we battled our opponents was whoever removed the others hat first captured them. Through a small clearing, I saw a couple opponents moving along, so I manoeuvred myself a ways ahead ready to ambush them. I waited a few minutes, and when I heard them moving close, I came flying out at them screaming like a Banshee, going for the element of surprise. Much to my surprise, I actually came flying out at, and stopped about 15' away from, a black bear. We both looked at each other with shock, turned tail and ran away scared from each other.
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Old 04-03-2014, 10:09 AM   #33
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Great story, Jim!

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Originally Posted by dbailey View Post
But, if you're serious about mitigating risk, you need to understand your tools and be objective in choosing them. Carrying bear spray won't do you any good at all if you don't know how to use it.
I agree. I would go even further: if you carry bear spray (or a gun) without far more training and experience in using it than most of us would ever get, you will likely cause both greater exposure to risk of attack (due to complacency), and greater risk of harm through inept use or accidental discharge of the very tool carried for protection.

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My opinion: put a lot of effort into avoiding attractants around your camp site, shore, dock, trails, etc... make noise when you're hiking... dogs on leash at all times in bear country... and that's good enough for me in "normal" bear country
Excellent approach, and exactly that advised by park officials.

You're more likely to be injured in a collision with a moose on the highway than in an attack by a bear in a park. To me, it makes sense to take suitable precautions to avoid both, but to over-react to neither.
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Old 04-03-2014, 10:20 AM   #34
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BC Campground bear warning:
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Old 04-03-2014, 10:32 AM   #35
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You don't want to be a part of the headlines on the news.

If the place has an electric fence...it's for a reason. In the US there are places where soft sided tents etc are prohibited because of the bears. The difference between people vs bear spray is the distance/amount the contents are propelled.

With that...personally...I would get a can up there....and kindly give it to someone else before you cross back over.

I am a true believer that the one should never under estimate any wild animal.....because they are unpredictable. Better to be prepared...proactive instead of reactive.

Have a great time!
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Old 04-03-2014, 10:50 AM   #36
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I know of an Alaska State Park Ranger who advises newbies to the wilderness who want to carry a sidearm for bear protection to file down the front gun sight...on the premise that it won't hurt as much when the bear takes it away and shoves it.....
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Old 04-03-2014, 11:15 AM   #37
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I was in Yellowstone many years ago. A black bear broke into a vehicle, ripped the interior apart. The owner of the vehicle (a Yellowstone Park employee) was charged with improperly storing food. Not sure if it went to court or not, can't think of what else the individual could have done to keep his lunch secure....
Most bear incidents are related to startling the animal (why bear bells work), protecting their young, occasionally protecting a food cache (usually grizzlies), etc. Bears are omnivores and on rare occasions, black bears, have been known to stalk human prey.
Bears, like other animals, learn, and become habituated with more and more human contact. Not necessarily a good thing. Bear spray has been proven to be a useful tool.
While bears make the headlines, other animals can be just as dangerous. Elk or moose in rutting season are very dangerous, both males and females. In the spring time female elk or moose with a calf are much worse.
Bottom line, be cautious around any wildlife species, they are not pets.
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Old 04-03-2014, 11:35 AM   #38
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I have spent multiple summers working in the mountains both with parks and then in mineral exploration. I now spend countless days hiking with my family in the mountain parks. Over the years I have seen more bears, both black and grizzlies, than I can count. Almost all of these bears have turned and run, but two have run toward me! On both occasions I discharged a bear flare, which had the desired effect. On both occasions the bear re-appeared, and a second "banger" got rid of him for good. I should add that there is a big difference between a bear running at you, or even charging, and an attack. On one of these occasions the bear just wanted to see what I was. The second one was more of a real charge. Keep in mind that I had to spend hundreds of days hiking to have these experiences with bears. I certainly have a healthy respect for bears, and usually carry both the flares and spray. IMHO the Bells are too quiet, I prefer to sing and yell whenever coming around corners, entering thick growth, or when near noisy creeks. I would suggest that the chances of being attacked by a bear is about the same as being attacked by a shark when swimming in Hawaii, perhaps less. Both happen, but are statistically very rare. To avoid swimming or hiking because of sharks and bears would be irrational!
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Old 04-03-2014, 11:51 AM   #39
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I prefer to sing and yell whenever coming around corners, entering thick growth, or when near noisy creeks.
My singing would definitely drive a bear away.

But I hear you, we do the same. I have never used a bear bell before.
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Old 04-03-2014, 11:57 AM   #40
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While fly fishing on the Crowsnest in Alberta, I heard a fellow fisher call out to me. I turned and he said, "did you see the bear"? I hadn't. It was now about 100 feet downriver and the other fisher told me it had walked past me, coming as close as 20 feet. It was a full-grown cinnamon bear.

I'm just glad I didn't hook him up on the back cast.
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