Are You Wildlife Aware?

Human encounters with wildlife increase in the spring as outdoor recreation becomes increasingly popular, bears emerge from their den, and wildlife species bear young.

Rocky Mountain Sheep lamb © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Rocky Mountain Sheep lamb © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Most regions of the U.S. and Canada are home to an abundance of wildlife. It can be exciting to see wildlife, but remember to enjoy wildlife with respect and caution and observe from a safe distance.

It’s important to be Wildlife Aware—be informed about bears and other wildlife and what to do when you come into contact with them.

Always give wild animals a clear escape route. Do not approach or crowd wildlife; doing so could make the animal stressed and unpredictable.

Many people enjoy feeding wildlife because it allows them to have close contact or because they believe they are helping the animals.

While seeing wild animals up close can be enjoyable, providing wild animals with a human‐supplied food source nearly always leads to problems for both the animals and humans. Feeding can create unintended conflicts with humans. Wild animals that are used to being fed by humans commonly lose their fear of people. Animals that are unafraid of people will approach them for food, and are sometimes mistaken as rabid, aggressive, or mean, then killed for that behavior. An instinctive wariness of people is important to a wild animal’s survival.

Be Wildlife Aware—and camp responsibly

Rocky Mountain Goat in the Canadian Rockies. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Rocky Mountain Goat in the Canadian Rockies. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Sloppy campers and hikers don’t just endanger themselves, but also future visitors.

If an animal can’t smell your food, it won’t get your food. Keep a clean campsite. Pick up,

seal, and pack out every scrap of uneaten food.

If an animal can’t see your food, it won’t get your food. Once an animal finds food in a pack, box, or can, it will seek out similar containers with hopes of securing a easy meal.

If a wild animal receives a food reward from a human source, it can become food-conditioned. This behavior has resulted in the removal or death of many wild animals, and has also increased the risk of human injury.

Never feed or approach bears or other wildlife. Do not leave food out to deliberately attract bears or other animals. It is great to see wildlife but we should not be luring them to our camp or picnic sites by leaving treats.

Reduce or eliminate odors that attract bears. Store food in air-tight containers and store in your RV or car trunk.

Keep your campsite clean. Never leave cooking utensils, coolers, grease, or dish water lying around the campsite.

The elk or wapiti is one of the largest land mammals in North America © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The elk or wapiti is one of the largest land mammals in North America © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Make garbage a priority. Always clean up spilled food or leftover food particles; strain all wash water and distribute it at least 200 feet from camp.

In terms of trash, pack out everything you pack in. Make sure the garbage is sealed in an odor-proof bag or container. Never throw leftover food down park toilets or box latrines.

And obey all closures and warnings.

Be Wildlife Aware—the rule about Wildlife is their unpredictability

Many species, such as white-tailed deer, do not constantly stay with their young and only return to feed them. While a fawn might look abandoned and alone, it is waiting for the female to return. A fawn is well-equipped to protect itself. By the time it is 5 days old it can outrun a human, and within a few weeks of birth, can escape most predators.

Bison © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Bison © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The doe will return to the fawn several times a day to nurse and clean it, staying only a few minutes each time before leaving again to seek food.

For other species, the parent may return and become aggressive in an attempt to defend its young.

Chipmunks, squirrels and other rodents are usually a bigger nuisance than bears. Fortunately, the rules that work to help deter bears work for these animals, too.

Just because a squirrel doesn’t pose a threat to your life doesn’t mean you should forget about animal-proofing techniques when you’re not camping in bear country.

Worth Pondering…

When Robert Frost declared his intention to take the road less traveled in his 1916 poem “The Road Not Taken,” who could have guessed that so many people would take the same trip?

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Orion Safety Introduces Bear Deterrent Offering Long Distance Protection

Easton, Maryland-based Orion Safety Products introduces a new Bear Deterrent that offers long distance protection.

Orion Safety Products Orion Bear DeterrentThe product produces a loud “gunshot” sound, a bright dynamic flash and smoke, and is designed to scare bears away before they are close enough to attack.

Field tests in Alaska have demonstrated Orion Bear Deterrent can be effective at 300 feet.

Orion Bear Deterrent is an excellent alternative to bear pepper sprays and other deterrent products, according to a company news release.

“Bear spray and other deterrent products may not work at longer ranges or in all weather conditions,” explained Jay McLaughlin, President Orion Safety Products.

“When bears are close enough to use some of these other products, it can be a terrifying and dangerous situation. Orion Bear Deterrent works at distances as great as 300 feet with both a visual and sound signal to frighten bears away and protect you and your family.”

Though lethal bear attacks are rare, there has been an increase in bear attacks and maulings as more people live in or visit bear habitats according to a 2014 article in National Geographic.

The article suggests that people who live in or visit areas where bear and other large animals live, can educate themselves and take precautions to reduce risk of an attack.

Bear deterrent products are recommended for hunters, campers, hikers, or anyone living in rural areas frequented by bears.

Orion Bear Deterrent offers additional advantages.

It is non-lethal and a safe alternative to weapons, traps and poisons.

This black bear wants his food and he is waiting patiently. DO NOT FEED BEARS! (Source: Thomas J/travelooce.com)
This black bear wants his food and he is waiting patiently. DO NOT FEED BEARS! (Source: Thomas J/travelooce.com)

Orion Bear Deterrent works in all weather conditions with no risk of fire.

It is lightweight, waterproof, and compact.

A holster is available, so it may be quickly accessed when needed.

Orion Bear Deterrent produces a loud “gunshot” sound, over 120db. It is louder than most audio bear deterrents, and it produces a bright, dynamic flash, and smoke.

This multi-sensory device gives the user a better chance of deterring a bear than a product that only produces a sound, visual alert, or chemical deterrent.

Available at Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s, Gander Mountain, and other outdoor, camping and hunting equipment retailers, the product is also less expensive than most bear deterrent sprays.

Details

Orion Safety Products

Orion Safety Products has been making automotive flares and railway flares (fusees) for nearly a century, originally under the brand name Standard Fusee.

Over the years, the company has grown not only to become one of the world’s leading producer of flares, but also a supplier of a wide selection of related safety products ranging from sound signals and lightsticks to first aid kits.

In November 1997, the company adopted the Orion brand name for all of its safety and signaling products.

Orion flare products are engineered and manufactured in the USA, primarily in three manufacturing facilities in Indiana, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.

Phone: (800) 637-7807 (toll free)

Website: www.orionsignals.com

Worth Pondering…

In many cultures, the bear was looked upon with such reverence that members of the culture were not allowed to speak the word for “bear “.

Instead, they referred to the animal with varied and creative euphamisms.

Several names were used by the Navajo and other native groups—Fine Young Chief, He Who Lives in the Den, and Reared in the Mountains.

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Man Charged For Feeding Bears

Do not feed wildlife!

This black bear wants his food food and he is waiting patiently. DO NOT FEED BEARS! (Source: Thomas J/travelooce.com)
This black bear wants his food food and he is waiting patiently. DO NOT FEED BEARS! (Source: Thomas J/travelooce.com)

How hard is that to understand?

In an earlier article I reported on an incident involving the feeding of people-food to a black bear 3. 4 miles outside the north gate to Banff National Park.

In a national park in Canada, feeding wildlife carries a maximum fine of $25,000. Officers in provincial parks and recreation areas can also charge people up to $250 for the act. But there are no provincial laws that would allow Fish and Wildlife officers to issue a fine in this incident.

Such is NOT the case in Vermont where a Montgomery (Vermont) man was charged by the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department for intentionally feeding bears.

Jeffrey Messier, 54, was charged with feeding bears after Game Warden Sgt. Carl Wedin received a report of a bear being killed in self-defense at a neighboring residence on June 22, according to an agency report.

Sgt. Wedin responded and recovered the bear. Its stomach contained a large number of sunflower seeds.

The investigating warden went to Jeffrey Messier’s residence where he discovered evidence of bear feeding and encountered a bear walking around the residence. The bear showed no sign of being afraid of people and walked right up to the warden.

Remember: A Fed Bear is a Dead Bear (Courtesy: U.S. Department of Agriculture)
Remember: A Fed Bear is a Dead Bear (Courtesy: U.S. Department of Agriculture)

The bear then approached a picnic table where sunflower seeds were placed. It was obvious to the warden that this bear had been intentionally fed on several occasions and had lost its fear of humans, according to a Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department news release.

Further investigation by Sgt. Wedin revealed that several other bears also came to the residence often enough to be named and that many of them in recent years may have been killed or injured in incidents with other landowners.

According to the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department, black bears are found in most forested portions of Vermont where they rely on wild foods such as berries, cherries, beechnuts, apples, and acorns to survive. But the department also points out that bears can easily become attracted to other foods such as birdseed, garbage, and pet food.

“Bears are normally shy and not aggressive toward humans,” says bear biologist Forrest Hammond.

“However, a bear that has been fed by humans soon loses its shyness and can become dangerous, especially to the landowner feeding the bears and to their neighbors. Often, as in this case, fed bears will seek similar foods elsewhere, and in the process cause property damage and scare people not expecting to find bears on their porches and in their back yards.”

“At this time we are responding to reports throughout the state of bears causing damage while attempting to get at chicken feed, bird seed, stored garbage, and food kept in screened porches. In most cases this does not end well for the bears.”

“People such as Mr. Messier that feed bears often think they are helping them,” said Hammond. “But in reality such behavior causes problems for other landowners and often ends with the death of the bears being fed. When we start receiving multiple reports of bears causing problems in an area we most often find that someone is intentionally feeding them.”

The intentional feeding of bears is illegal in Vermont. If convicted Messier faces a fine of up to $1,000 and a one-year revocation of his hunting, fishing, and trapping licenses.

A Fed Bear is a Dead Bear

bear-blog-deadbearDon’t be a contributor to food-conditioning.

Once a bear is food-trained, it is often impossible to un-train them. That is why wildlife experts often say a fed bear is a dead bear. Having a bear wreck your campsite is not only bad for you, but potentially deadly for the bear.

Bears that scavenge for food begin to associate food with humans, and become food-conditioned. Food-conditioned bears lose their natural fear of humans and become a threat to campers as they roam through the area in search of an easy meal.

There is little or no chance of correcting a food-conditioned bear; Park Rangers are forced to destroy them when they become aggressive towards humans.

Worth Pondering…

Life is hard; it’s harder if you’re stupid.

―John Wayne

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Camp Without Reservations This Holiday Weekend

TripTrist Travel Planners has encouraging news if you want to go on a camping adventure for the long 4th of July weekend.

Enjoy the solitude and primitive experience of camping away from developed campgrounds and other campers. Somewhere in southeastern Arizona between Coronado National Monument and Parker Lake, a BLM-administered camping site with limited services. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Enjoy the solitude and primitive experience of camping away from developed campgrounds and other campers. Somewhere in southeastern Arizona between Coronado National Monument and Parker Lake, a BLM-administered camping site with limited services. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It is possible to camp without reservations even though most sites in RV parks and campgrounds were reserved months ago.

There are three ways go camping without reservations.

Start by checking ReserveAmerica.com to see if any campsites are available due to cancellations. Users may set up an alert to be notified if a specific park has availability.

Next, look for campsites that don’t take reservations and get there early, preferable a day or two before the weekend.

If there is nothing available, do not disrepair. There are millions of acres of publicly owned land across the United States that allow dispersed camping.

What is Dispersed Camping?

Many people enjoy the solitude and primitive experience of camping away from developed campgrounds and other campers.

Dispersed camping is the term used for camping OUTSIDE of a designated campground. Dispersed camping is allowed anywhere in the National Forest or Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands. These are public lands that the federal government oversees.

Dispersed camping is permitted in designated areas within Anza-Borrego State Park in southeastern California. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Dispersed camping is permitted in designated areas within Anza-Borrego State Park in southeastern California. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As long as the general rules are followed, camp can be set up as close or as far from civilization as desired.

Dispersed camping means no services such as trash removal, and little or no facilities such as tables and fire pits, are provided. Some popular dispersed camping areas may have toilets.

There are extra responsibilities and skills that are necessary for dispersed camping. It is your responsibility to know these before you try this new experience.

Camping rules and regulations apply to make your experience safe, and to keep the natural resources scenic and unspoiled for other campers.

The following rules apply when camping in the wilderness:

Dispersed camping is allowed in a one-mile perimeter away from campgrounds and 100 feet from any stream. To prevent resource damage please keep your campsite within 150 feet from a roadway.

Bring your own water.

Be Bear Aware. There are bears on the National Forest, so camp accordingly.

Leave the area as you found it. Back out all trash and waste. Follow Leave No Trace guidelines.

When on camping on BLM land, don’t stay longer than 14 days

When camping in the National Forest, Don’t stay longer than 16 days.

Do not leave campfires unattended. Put fires dead out before leaving the campsite or don’t have a fire at, to eliminate the risk of starting a forest fire.

Dispersed camping is available in the national forest with access to Fish Lake in Utah. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Dispersed camping is available in the national forest with access to Fish Lake in Utah. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

For a detailed description of the rules visit the Forest Service website or the Bureau of Land Management website.

When deciding where to go, start by looking at a map of the destination. For example, Californians might want to drive up to the Sierra Mountains to enjoy the cool air, a clear view of the stars, and refreshing mountain streams and lakes.

Open up Google Maps, look at map of the eastern California. All of the light green areas indicate National Forest or BLM land. Zoom in further and pick a target area. Keep in mind that vehicles must stay on existing roads and it is best to camp in previously used areas to reduce damage to the environment.

If you follow these tips you can save a safe, low impact, dispersed camping experience.

Details

TripTrist Travel Planners

TripTrist is a website that provides a search engine for adventure travel and tours around the world. Choose from over 2,000 tours by locally owned and run tour operators. Travelers simply enter the location they would like to go and/or the activity they are looking for and browse from a list of exciting tour choices.

No need to visit dozens of websites to plan an adventure travel vacation, just use the TripTrist search engine.

Website: www.triptrist.com

Reserve America

Website: www.reserveamerica.com

US Forest Service

Website: www.fs.usda.gov

Bureau of Land Management (BLM)

Website: www.blm.gov

Worth Pondering…

I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.

—John Burroughs

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How Stupid Can You Be?

How stupid can you be?

A photo showing people in a vehicle feeding a bear on Highway 11 near the north gate to Banff National Park on May 19. (Jeff Bingham/Facebook)
A photo showing people in a vehicle feeding a bear on Highway 11 near the north gate to Banff National Park on May 19. (Jeff Bingham/Facebook)

How can anyone be stupid enough to feed wieners, pepperoni sticks, and bread to a black bear?

That’s the question wildlife officials are asking following an incident on the David Thompson Highway (Highway 11) near the north gate to Banff National Park on May 19.

Jeff Bingham, a wildlife photographer witnessed the event as it unfolded.

“Confronting people is not the answer,” he wrote on Facebook, where he posted a photo that shows the license plate on the vehicle.

“So I found a Parks Canada person, and reported it.”

Parks Canada investigated the incident and determined it took place about 5.5 kilometres (3.4 miles) outside the north gate to Banff National Park, the Calgary Herald reports.

In a national park, feeding wildlife carries a maximum fine of $25,000. Officers in provincial parks and recreation areas can also charge people up to $250 for the act.

But there are no provincial laws that would allow Fish and Wildlife officers to issue a fine in this incident.

“It is certainly not something our officers condone,” Brendan Cox, spokesman for Alberta Justice and Solicitor General, told the Herald.

This black bear wants his food and he is waiting patiently. DO NOT FEED BEARS! (Source: Thomas J/travelooce.com)
This black bear wants his food and he is waiting patiently. DO NOT FEED BEARS! (Source: Thomas J/travelooce.com)

“Outside of a park, there is no specific violation that refers to feeding wildlife in this way.

“Officers will try to discern the license plate and the owners of the vehicle so that the people involved in this case can be educated about how irresponsible it is to feed bears, or any wildlife for that matter.”

The discrepancy concerns those who work to reduce conflicts between people and wildlife.

“That worries me, because now people will think they can get away with that,” said Kim Titchener, director of Bow Valley Wildsmart.

“We don’t want people feeding wildlife…they might think it’s fun and it’s cute and they get this great picture, but they’ve killed that animal. They are responsible for that animal’s death now.”

Provincial officials said they will keep an eye on the bear to determine whether it has become habituated.

“If it learns to associate people with food, then it’s possible it could be approaching people for food in the future,” Cox explained to the Herald.

“Officers will monitor the situation and reassess it if there’s any future incidents.”

Should the bear get into trouble again, it could be captured and either euthanized or relocated.

Although incidents of feeding wildlife are happening less frequently, there have been a few high-profile cases in recent years, both within and outside of the protected areas.

“I don’t know where people are missing that message,” said Titchener.

“This is a long-standing message since the ’70s.

“Don’t feed the wildlife.”

An expert with Parks Canada told the Herald it could be a bear that officials have handled in Banff National Park.

Remember: A Fed Bear is a Dead Bear (Courtesy: U.S. Department of Agriculture)
Remember: A Fed Bear is a Dead Bear (Courtesy: U.S. Department of Agriculture)

“In the photo, they are saying there was a green ear tag,” said Brianna Burley, human/wildlife conflict specialist with Lake Louise, Yoho, and Kootenay national parks.

“That does fit with a bear that we did tag around Saskatchewan Crossing last summer and it wouldn’t be unheard of at all for a bear to wander.”

She was concerned about the bear’s welfare if it was fed along the road.

“They start becoming food conditioned,” explained Burley.

“That association between people and food leads to aggressive behavior from bears, which ultimately can lead to injury to people.

“It leaves us for very little room for any management decision and can very often lead to the destruction of those animals.”

Burley said they are noticing more incidents of people feeding wildlife within the park.

“When this came across my desk and we were trying to figure out where it happened, I wasn’t surprised by it,” she said. “Over the past few years, we’ve had more and more reports of this and I am not sure why that’s happening.”

Burley also reminded people to report any bear sightings within the park to Banff dispatch rather than just post it on social media sites.

The Banff dispatch number is 403-762-1470.

Worth Pondering…

Life is hard; it’s harder if you’re stupid.

―John Wayne

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Bear Sightings in Arizona Prompt Bear Awareness Tips

The Arizona Game and Fish Department said campers, hikers, and outdoor people need to be aware that bears may already be emerging from hibernation after two recent sightings were reported.

Remember: A Fed Bear is a Dead Bear (Courtesy: U.S. Department of Agriculture)
Remember: A Fed Bear is a Dead Bear (Courtesy: U.S. Department of Agriculture)

The Arizona Game and Fish Department wants the community to be “black bear aware” following the first sightings of the season near the Peppersauce Campground and on Ft. Huachuca.

“A black bear was sighted within 100 feet of the campground approximately 7 p.m. Sunday, February 16,” said Mart Hart in an Arizona Game and Fish news release.

“The campers abandoned the camp and reported the sighting.”

In addition, a hunter reported sighting a female bear and cub on Ft. Huachuca in January, Hart added.

Bears have been observed sporadically during the winter months in southeastern Arizona, suggesting that warmer weather may have shortened annual hibernations, from which black bears typically emerge in March, usually males before females.

Additionally, consecutive dry winters and intermittent seasonal rains, coupled with lingering environmental impacts from the Monument and Horseshoe Two fires, suggest that there may be more cases of bears visiting residential areas this year, according to Hart.

“Bears in search of food are often attracted to homes and into proximity with people. This close contact puts both humans and bears at risk. Most conflicts are the result of people unintentionally feeding bears, most often by allowing them access to household garbage, bird feeders, garden areas, or trees bearing fruit,” said Raul Vega Regional Supervisor of Game and Fish in Tucson.

bearsign03a“Fed bears can lose their fear of humans and begin to associate humans with food, sometimes causing property damage and even injuring people. But conflicts between humans and bears are preventable.”

Campers should never take food into a tent, use deodorizing sprays if storing food in cars when a bear-proof box is not available on-site, and clean themselves off thoroughly after cooking as well as change clothes afterward that may have lingering odors.

Recognizing the potential risk to both humans and bears, the Arizona Game and Fish Department spends considerable time and money each year relocating bears.

Unfortunately, this effort does little for the bears. Some bears must be destroyed because they are considered too dangerous, have lost their fear of humans, or continue to get into conflicts with people.

Following removal or relocation, campers may experience more problems from a different bear if the identified attractant is not eliminated.

Relocating a bear is also traumatic for the animal and does not guarantee it will live. Some are killed by larger, older bears that have established territory in an area.

If a bear is in your campground and refuses to leave, immediately contact the Game and Fish office at 520-628-5376 or at 1-800-352-0700 evenings, weekend, and holidays.

Depending on what the bear is doing, department personnel may respond if it remains in the area.

If you see a bear in the distance, alter your route to avoid it. On the rare occasion that a bear approaches you, discourage it by:

  • Making yourself as large and imposing as possible. Stand upright and wave your arms, jacket or other items, and make loud noises
  • Do not run and never play dead
  • Give the bear a chance to leave the area
  • If the bear does not leave, stay calm, continue facing it, and slowly back away

The black bear is the only bear species found in Arizona. Although fur color varies and includes brown, cinnamon, and blond, they are all considered black bears. It is the smallest and most widely distributed North American bear.

Black bears:

  • Weigh 125-400 pounds with males being larger than females
  • Are three- to three-and-a-half feet tall when on all four feet
  • Eat primarily acorns, berries, insects, and cactus fruits
  • Live in most forest, woodland, and chaparral habitats, and desert riparian areas
  • Roam an area of 7 to 15 square miles
  • Produce two to three cubs born in January or February
  • Live up to 25 years in the wild
  • Most active between dawn and dusk
This black bear wants his food and he is waiting patiently. DO NOT FEED BEARS! (Source: Thomas J/travelooce.com)
This black bear wants his food and he is waiting patiently. DO NOT FEED BEARS! (Source: Thomas J/travelooce.com)

Bears are classified as big game animals in Arizona and are protected by state law. It is unlawful to feed wildlife, including bears, in Pima and Cochise counties. Violations can result in a fines ranging from $300 in Pima County to $2,500 in Cochise of up to $300.

For additional bear awareness tips and stories, click here.

Worth Pondering…

When a pine needle falls in the forest, the eagle sees it; the deer hears it, and the bear smells it.
—old Native American saying

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A BEAR-ly Believable BEAR Story

A woodlot owner near Grand Falls, New Brunswick, says he’s lucky to be alive after a bear attacked him in the woods.

Gilles Cyr
Gilles Cyr says he’s lucky to be alive after a black bear attack. (Source.cbc.com)

Gilles Cyr was out for a walk through his woodlot when suddenly a large black object ran out of the woods and attacked him, reports the CBC and Postmedia News.

To prevent the bear from killing him, Cyr grabbed its tongue in a desperate bid for survival.

“When I opened up my eyes it was on top of me—with the friggin’ noise, it’s crazy the way it growls. Right from the stomach. It’s not from the mouth, it’s just inside,” said Cyr.

“His mouth was wide open right in front of my face so the last thing I remember I had his tongue in my hand and I didn’t want to let go because he was trying to fight me off. So he was hitting me with his claws, so I says, ‘If you’re going to hurt me, I’m going to hurt you too.’ So he was biting his tongue at the same time.”

Cyr said grabbing the bear’s tongue was out of instinct.

“For a second, I thought I was dead … that’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you open your eyes and see that friggin’ mouth full of teeth and a tongue in there. It’s like … an extreme sport,” he said with a chuckle.

Cyr said he managed to escape behind a tree.

The bear still managed to claw his stomach and bit his knee. The animal eventually lost interest and decided to walk away.

Conservation officers try to scare bears away, but that’s hard to do with ones that have become habituated to human food or garbage. (Source: yukon-news.com)
Conservation officers try to scare bears away, but that’s hard to do with ones that have become habituated to human food or garbage. (Source: yukon-news.com)

He was treated for superficial wounds at the hospital.

Cyr said that a warden told him he has permission to track down the bear and kill it as a nuisance animal—however an official with Natural Resources said Cyr may require a permit.

This is not the first near miss with a black bear in New Brunswick.

In August a forestry worker was chased and attacked while working in the woods near Oromocto Lake. Pierre Mezzetta of Fredericton required some stitches and a night in hospital following the attack.

In July a black bear chased a Fredericton man into his home. He was not injured but the bear made off with his garbage.

The province’s black bear population has jumped to 17,000, up from about 12,000 eight years ago.

A provincial biologist said one reason for the rise in the bear population is because of a drop in hunting.

Thirty-five years ago, New Brunswick sold more than 12,500 bear hunting licenses. Last year, it sold barely more than 5,000.

It’s important to be informed about bears and what to do when you come into contact with them.

Bears are not tame, gentle, or cuddly; they are unpredictable and potentially dangerous.

A Fed Bear is a Dead Bear

Don’t be a contributor to food-conditioning.

Once a bear is food-trained, it is often impossible to un-train them. That is why wildlife experts often say a fed bear is a dead bear. Having a bear wreck your campsite is not only bad for you, but potentially deadly for the bear.

The black bear has an acute sense of hearing and smell but has relatively poor eyesight. (Source: oklahomawildlifecontrol.com)
The black bear has an acute sense of hearing and smell but has relatively poor eyesight. (Source: oklahomawildlifecontrol.com)

Bears that scavenge for food begin to associate food with humans, and become food-conditioned. Food-conditioned bears lose their natural fear of humans and become a threat to campers as they roam through the area in search of an easy meal.

There is little or no chance of correcting a food-conditioned bear; Park Rangers are forced to destroy them when they become aggressive towards humans.

Proper food storage and clean camping techniques are important to avoiding an encounter with a bear.

When walking in the woods, be alert, make noise, and carry bear repellent pepper spray and keep it handy.

Worth Pondering…

When a pine needle falls in the forest, the eagle sees it; the deer hears it, and the bear smells it.
—old Native American saying

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Being Bear Aware

It’s important to be informed about bears and what to do when you come into contact with them.

bearsign03aBears are not tame, gentle, or cuddly; they are unpredictable and potentially dangerous.

A Fed Bear is a Dead Bear

Don’t be a contributor to food-conditioning.

Once a bear is food-trained, it is often impossible to un-train them. That is why wildlife experts often say a fed bear is a dead bear. Having a bear wreck your campsite is not only bad for you, but potentially deadly for the bear.

Bears that scavenge for food begin to associate food with humans, and become food-conditioned. Food-conditioned bears lose their natural fear of humans and become a threat to campers as they roam through the area in search of an easy meal.

There is little or no chance of correcting a food-conditioned bear; Park Rangers are forced to destroy them when they become aggressive towards humans.

Avoiding Dangerous Encounters with Bears

Proper food storage and clean camping techniques are important to avoiding an encounter with a bear.

Food-conditioning of bears can be prevented by heeding several simple precautions. Following these tips will help ensure a safer visit for you and the bears.

Conservation officers try to scare bears away, but that’s hard to do with ones that have become habituated to human food or garbage. (Source: yukon-news.com)
Conservation officers try to scare bears away, but that’s hard to do with ones that have become habituated to human food or garbage. (Source: yukon-news.com)

Never feed or approach bears or other wildlife.

Reduce or eliminate odors that attract bears.

Keep a clean campsite.

Store food, garbage, toiletries, and stoves in a recreational vehicle, car trunk, or approved bear-resistant containers. Coolers are not bear-resistant.

Never leave cooking utensils, coolers, grease, or dish water lying around the campsite.

Obey all closures and warnings.

Never put food scraps in the campfire.

Do not keep food, or anything with an odor, in tents.

Any strange odor will attract a bear. Bears will target motor oil, insect repellent, liquor, and other items that look or smells like food.

Make your presence known by talking, singing, carrying a bell, or other means, especially when near streams or in thick forest where visibility is low. This can be the key to avoiding encounters. Most bears will avoid humans when they know humans are present.

Use caution in areas like berry patches where bears occur.

Don’t approach a bear; respect their space and move off.

When walking in the woods, be alert, make noise, and carry bear repellent pepper spray and keep it handy.

Carry and know how to use bear pepper spray for emergencies. Bear pepper spray should be used as a deterrent only in an aggressive or attacking confrontation with a bear.

Using bear spray

  1. Remove safety clip
  2. Aim slightly down and towards the approaching bear. If necessary, adjust for cross wind
  3. Spray a brief shot when the bear is about 25 feet away
  4. Spray again if the bear continues to approach

bear-blog-deadbearOnce the bear has retreated or is busy cleaning itself, leave the area as quickly as possible, but don’t run. Go to an immediate area of safety, such as a car, tree, or building.

Do not chase or pursue the bear.

Be aware that extreme heat or cold may affect the performance of the product. Canisters have been known to explode if left in a vehicle in summer. Each canister also has an expiration date.

“In most situations, bears will avoid humans. But, bears can become aggressive when searching for food. Once a bear receives a food reward, it becomes habituated to humans and will usually return to the same place, or look for another campsite or garbage can. That’s a death sentence for the bear,” said Bighorn National Forest ranger Clarke McClung.

Conflicts with bears should be reported to your local game warden or Forest Service office.

Please Note: This is Part 2 of a two-part series on Bears and Bear Safety.

Part 2: Human Encounters with Bears Turn Deadly

Worth Pondering…

When a pine needle falls in the forest, the eagle sees it; the deer hears it, and the bear smells it.
—old Native American saying

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Human Encounters with Bears Turn Deadly

Recent media reports detail numerous human encounters with black bears.

This black bear wants his food and he is waiting patiently. DO NOT FEED BEARS! (Source: Thomas J/travelooce.com)
This black bear wants his food and he is waiting patiently. DO NOT FEED BEARS! (Source: Thomas J/travelooce.com)

In most instances the bears became food-conditioned, lost their natural fear of humans, and become a threat as they roamed in search of an easy meal. These bear was either relocated or euthanized by rangers because they posed an obvious human safety risk to campers.

Several samples of these reports follow.

Black Bear Killed at Yellowstone Campground

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports that a black bear that refused to leave a Yellowstone National Park campground after getting a taste of human food there was killed by park staff.

The 142-pound adult male black bear entered the Canyon Campground and came within six feet of a man and woman eating.

The campers backed off, and the bear ate some of the food off their table. It then went through their garbage and pawed at their tent.

As the bear left their campsite, it checked out tents, fire pits and bear-proof trash bins, and food-storage boxes at other campsites.

Rangers hazed the bear out of the campground, but it returned later in the day. Out of a concern for safety, the bear was shot and killed later that night.

Bear Aggression at Colorado Campgrounds

Remember: A Fed Bear is a Dead Bear (Courtesy: U.S. Department of Agriculture)
Remember: A Fed Bear is a Dead Bear (Courtesy: U.S. Department of Agriculture)

The Aspen Times reported that a bear tried to break into a car less than 30 feet from a campsite, and set the car alarm off five times in one evening. The next day, a large black bear broke into a car in the Difficult day-use parking lot with several people watching. The bear bent a door and broke a window before leaving the lot with a bag of marshmallows in its mouth.

“People need to remember that black bears are smart, wild, and very strong,” said Roy Schoepf, a Difficult Campground camp host.

“The bear we’ve been seeing pushed over all four of our bear-proof dumpsters on one visit. They’re fearless and can do a lot of damage if they want.”

There have been multiple bear sightings at the Difficult Campground, as well as several surrounding campsites.

The public needs to be aware that dealing with bears is serious business and caution must be taken at every level.

Colorado has a “two-strike” policy under which bears may be tranquilized, ear-tagged, and relocated once if they are in an inappropriate location or they have engaged in episode(s) of “nuisance” behavior. If that same bear has to be physically dealt with again (tranquilized or trapped due to inappropriate location or nuisance behavior), the bear is put down. Bears that pose a public safety risk will be put down regardless of whether they have ear tags or not.

Bears are territorial and get into a habit of returning to where they find food.

Black Bear Killed at New Mexico State Park Campground

MyHighPlains reports that New Mexico Department of Game and Fish officers trapped and killed a black bear after it tore open a tent with two campers inside in the Lake Alice Campground at Sugarite Canyon State Park near Raton.

The women in the tent were able to escape uninjured and set off their car alarm, which scared the bear away.

Department officers who responded to the call said the bear apparently was attracted to the campground by birdfeeders hung by campers. The bear went from campsite to campsite, knocking over birdfeeders and grills before raiding the women’s tent.

The women did not have any food in their tent. Most other campers in the campground were sleeping in camp trailers.

The black bear has an acute sense of hearing and smell but has relatively poor eyesight. (Source: oklahomawildlifecontrol.com)
The black bear has an acute sense of hearing and smell but has relatively poor eyesight. (Source: oklahomawildlifecontrol.com)

The bear was killed because it posed an obvious human safety risk to future tent campers.

“We can’t emphasize this enough: When you are camping, don’t put up birdfeeders or leave any other food sources out that may attract bears or other wildlife,” Conservation Officer Clint Henson said.

“In this case, putting out birdfeeders put everyone in that campground at risk and resulted in the bear’s death.”

Bighorn National Forest Visitors Urged to be Bear Aware

A USDA Forest Service news release reports that Wyoming Game & Fish Department game warden trapped a black bear in the Bighorn National Forest.

The 4-year-old male bear had received a food reward from a camper in the Dayton Gulch area earlier that morning. That evening, the bear returned for more. The bear was euthanized.

Please Note: This is Part 1 of a two-part series on Bears and Bear Safety.

Part 2: Being Bear Aware

Worth Pondering…

In many cultures, the bear was looked upon with such reverence that members of the culture were not allowed to speak the word for “bear “. Instead, they referred to the animal with varied and creative euphamisms. Several names were used by the Navajo and other native groups—Fine Young Chief, He Who Lives in the Den, and Reared in the Mountains.

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When Things Go Wrong

Dr. Aram Attarian, professor of parks, recreation and tourism management at North Carolina State University, has spent 35 years collecting accident reports, first-person accounts, and newspaper articles about things gone wrong in outdoor and adventure programs.

Attarian combined more than 50 scenarios involving lightning strikes, wildlife encounters, and lost students, in Risk Management in Outdoor and Adventure Programs, a book for use in outdoor leadership and adventure education classes, Medical Xpress reports.

His observations can also help RVers who enjoy hiking, camping, climbing, rafting, and other outdoor activities.

His first recommendation: “Do your homework up front.” This starts with researching the location, checking the long-term weather forecast, and selecting the right equipment for the trip. Following are tips to keep you out of a future edition of Attarian’s book, which is divided into four sections for each major contributing risk factor:

  • Program staff and participants
  • Environmental conditions
  • Equipment
  • Transportation

Program Staff and Participants

“Be prepared, both mentally and physically, for your trip,” Attarian says. If you’re getting ready for a new outdoor activity or a destination trip, start a routine of walking or running a few months ahead.

For two popular activities, backpacking and climbing, “it’s all legs and lungs. You need to have a good attitude as well.”

Mentors, whether experienced family members or professional guides, can help match your skill level to the activity and its risks. The most common outdoor injuries are musculoskeletal, such as sprained ankles or wrenched knees, followed by soft tissue injuries, such as abrasions, contusions and lacerations.

Make sure you carry a first aid kit and a communication device.

“Leave your itinerary with someone, with a day-by-day plan, so that if you’re late showing up, searchers will know where to start,” Attarian says.

Environmental Conditions

Weather, stream, river crossings, and interactions with wildlife are just a few of the biggest environmental concerns.

If a thunderstorm approaches, head from a high- to a low-risk environment by seeking shelter in a building or metal vehicle. If you’re caught in a storm, assume a lightning stance: Put your pack on the ground and crouch on top. Wait half an hour after the storm passes to resume activity. You should also be aware of wildlife in the area. Before your trip, find out if there’s a history of bears in the area and pay attention to park authorities and warning signs.

“If you’re going to an area where encounters between humans and bears are common, such as Glacier, Yellowstone, or Yosemite, take bear bells and pepper/bear spray with you and be bear-aware,” Attarian says.

Equipment

Technology has made outdoor adventures easier and more pleasant with lighter equipment, high-tech materials, and even solar panels to charge your cell phone.

However, communications gear can provide a false sense of security. “We all have cell phones, but they don’t work everywhere,” Attarian says.

Some leaders of large groups carry satellite phones. Another option is personal locator beacons, which work like GPS devices in an emergency. Once activated, the device sends a signal to an overhead satellite, which is passed on to authorities.

While GPS can come in handy, Attarian recommends carrying a map and compass for navigation. “You need to have a plan if your battery dies or the signal is blocked by a heavy tree canopy.”

Transportation

Despite his research on the risks of being outdoors, Attarian remains positive about its benefits. “Some would argue that travel to and from the location is the most dangerous part of any outdoor recreation experience,” he notes.

For additional information on Risk Management in Outdoor and Adventure Programs,and order details, click here.

Worth Pondering…

When Robert Frost declared his intention to take the road less traveled in his 1916 poem “The Road Not Taken,” who could have guessed that so many people would take the same trip?

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