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Old 09-03-2017, 09:24 AM   #1
dlguittard
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Bear Encounter at Uphill Lean to

We (3 ladies) were staying at the Lean To last week and had a bear come out of the woods towards us about 7:00 am. We made tremendous noise, banging, yelling, etc, etc, but he was not daunted (large male). He got to about 12 feet of us and we got our bear sprays ready to go. Just before the lean to, he veered left, but was clearly not at all concerned by us. Just wanted breakfast. We learned he next visited some other nearby campers where he hovered outside of one camper's tent for a bit. They also had trouble getting rid of him. He was not an agressive bear, however, he could be dangerous. Sad to see what human carelessness has done in the ADK's. I saw TONS of garbage, leftovers, etc, this year at the lean to's and campsites, way more than in the past. My recommendation is to CARRY BEAR SPRAY. The ranger told us to spray as soon as you can get it on the bear as they will develop a negative association with people.I won't go without it anymore, that's for sure!
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Old 09-03-2017, 10:56 AM   #2
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Old news.

My first High Peaks bear encounter was decades ago at Lake Colden. A neighboring camper asked us to help him retrieve his pack from a bear. Um, sure. The blast of a shrill whistle nearly deafened me but didn't even cause the bear to bat an eye. That's when I realized it was a "habituated bear" and there was little we could do to rescue the pack (it was his now). Loud noises might startle wild bears but High Peaks have learned they don't pose an existential threat.

A lean-to is a pantry exuding a smorgasbord of delicious odors. It's a bear's pictogram for "Free food here". Decades of cooking and people-smells permeate the structure and bears probably have their own Yelp reviews for them. Add sloppy camping habits to the mix and you're virtually guaranteed a visit from the evening forager. Rather than sleep next to a dumpster, and the visitors it attracts, best to pick a primitive-campsite located well away from the bear-attractors.

High Peaks bears have proven to be very clever. After rendering most bear-hangs to be ineffective, bear canisters were instituted. Unable to open (most) canisters, they grew emboldened and now show up at mealtime to raid whatever is cooking (and possibly the canister that was left open).

So now the recommendation is to scale up the arms race and employ bear spray. I wonder what the bear's eventual response will be? Perhaps they'll learn that meandering into the range of humans gets them a faceful of hurt ... so the learned response might be to rush into camp, blitzkrieg-style. Knock over the stove, raise hell, and cause everyone to scatter in panic. While the frightened occupants are cowering behind trees, clutching their cans of bear spray, the bear picks through the loot. Yeah, that sounds so much better than the way things work now.
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Old 09-03-2017, 12:31 PM   #3
dundee
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We (3 ladies) ... I won't go without it anymore, that's for sure!
That may not be necessary. You could go an entire lifetime w/o ever seeing one or having any problems if you go outside the HP area. I know of some lean-tos that get very little use and the bears haven't yet been attracted to these spots. The farther away from the HP area and away from a road, the less the problem you'll have.

I've seen two bears in 40 years of hiking that were wild bears. They just happened to cross the trail in front of me when I was hiking solo. They either heard me or smelled me ( a real possibility!) and quickly left the area.

Last edited by dundee; 09-03-2017 at 06:24 PM..
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Old 09-03-2017, 10:06 PM   #4
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Old news.
So now the recommendation is to scale up the arms race and employ bear spray. I wonder what the bear's eventual response will be? Perhaps they'll learn that meandering into the range of humans gets them a faceful of hurt ... so the learned response might be to rush into camp, blitzkrieg-style. Knock over the stove, raise hell, and cause everyone to scatter in panic. While the frightened occupants are cowering behind trees, clutching their cans of bear spray, the bear picks through the loot. Yeah, that sounds so much better than the way things work now.
Are you just wildly speculating or can you cite examples where this pattern has occurred?
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Old 09-04-2017, 12:26 AM   #5
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Are you just wildly speculating or can you cite examples where this pattern has occurred?
Note where I stated "I wonder what ...". Yes, speculation but I wouldn't go as far as using the adjective "wild". Who'd have thunk bears would have the chutzpah to wander into camp precisely at mealtime and cause all the pot-banging and whistle-blowing campers to disperse to the fringes while they sample the evening stew.

This behavior is labelled "aggressive" because the bear has zero fear of humans, will approach danger-close, and won't back down. It's a situation that the DEC remedies with a meal of fast-moving lead.

Perhaps pepper spray is more "humane" but I have not heard anything suggesting it prevents recidivism. I think the bear's mantra is "If at first you don't succeed, try try again."

Let's be honest here, canisters were instituted to discourage bears and break the connection of campers being a source of free meals. Maybe they're discouraged but they haven't given up ... just changed tactics ... which is what I speculated about should everyone start showering them with capsaicin.
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Old 09-11-2017, 10:21 AM   #6
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HP is a high traffic area, with many visitors who aren't always well-informed, shall we say, on how to handle their food and trash. Bear interactions has been an ongoing issue there. I think the DEC just mentioned high bear activity in one of their recent email newsletters.

Bear spray, travelling in groups, situational awareness and careful food management are in order. During a group camping trip in Alaska, we actually cooked our food well away from our sleeping sites in order to give the nearby grizzlies little reason to come through our tent areas.

The bears aren't doing anything unusual...they're naturally curious and they will always explore new opportunities for food. Just don't give them an easy meal and don't act like a frightened prey animal and chances are you'll be fine. Also a well-trained dog (something like a herding type or outdoorsy type) can be instrumental in deterring bear visits.

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Old 09-11-2017, 01:55 PM   #7
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Bear encounters

Maybe the Forest rangers and other environmental groups need to employ Karelian bear dogs and shotgun bean bag rounds to drive off habituated bears. They use these tactics out west to drive off habituated grizzlies. Apparently scares the crap out of these critters so they want nothing to do with humans.
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Old 09-15-2017, 08:49 AM   #8
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Maybe the Forest rangers and other environmental groups need to employ Karelian bear dogs and shotgun bean bag rounds to drive off habituated bears. They use these tactics out west to drive off habituated grizzlies. Apparently scares the crap out of these critters so they want nothing to do with humans.
I think the DEC already does that, both the shotgun bean bag treatment and the dog harassment. I'm not sure if anyone uses the Karilean bear dogs, as they're not particularly common here in the states, but there are a few houndsmen in NY with traditional scent hound types (plotts, walkers, redbones, ect.) who can be called up by the DEC to deter bear presence or even help remove problem bears.
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Old 09-15-2017, 11:37 AM   #9
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The DEC uses bean bags and dogs to drive off habituated bears? I'd like to know more.

Where did you learn about it? Is there a DEC article about it somewhere? Is it used throughout the ADK Park or only in specific areas? Do they only do it to drive off bears near populated places or throughout the backcountry (like near heavily-used campsites)?
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Old 09-15-2017, 12:35 PM   #10
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The DEC uses bean bags and dogs to drive off habituated bears? I'd like to know more.

Where did you learn about it? Is there a DEC article about it somewhere? Is it used throughout the ADK Park or only in specific areas? Do they only do it to drive off bears near populated places or throughout the backcountry (like near heavily-used campsites)?
I haven't seen any articles on that topic. However, both techniques are specifically listed in the DEC's bear response manual: http://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/wildlife_pdf/bearsopm.pdf
The manual refers to rubber buckshot (not bean bag rounds) but the intent behind such ammo is pretty much the same: deterrence, not lethality.

I've also talked to houndsmen in NY who have been called upon to run out problem bears. Under certain circumstances (i.e. a bear keeps getting into a farmer's crops or goes after livestock) bear can actually be hunted and killed by licensed houndsmen, though a special permit is required (similar to the deer management permits that some farmers get issued). Little known fact: there is actually a legal bear hound training season in NY, despite the use of hounds being illegal for actual hunting seasons. Other than it used to be a fairly common hunting tradition here (and still is in other northeastern and Great Lakes states), I suspect the main reason for that training season is so that the DEC has a pool of experienced houndsmen (and hounds) to call upon if they have to deter, or remove, a problem bear.
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Old 09-15-2017, 12:49 PM   #11
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We've had bears in our camp in CA 2x, but the ADK variety has not woken us up yet. May pass through, see no free meal, and move on.

We make a habit of eating on trail rather than in camp and using a canister in the ADK's (any zone). We skip lean to's (except ADK Loj) because as TB suggested you never know what the people before you did. Could be slathered in bacon grease.

We had a DEC site on Labor Day in a high bear warning area and another group stopped in right before dusk. Big site. Etiquette says a second party can stay. I was happy to have more numbers but was sure to tell them which direction we put our canister (hoping they'd have one) and where a nice dinner spot was (hoping they'd use it). Yes to both.

I might carry bear spray in future. I myself would not mind getting eaten - what a great story! But my wife is rather insistent that my daughter makes it back from each trip. It is small in size and large in piece of mind.

Bean bags - will have to try that. Hide in bushes near trail head and toss at un-bear-aware campers. Discourage them from the trails.

Original poster - thanks for sharing. Looks like you did everything right but still got the shake down.
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