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Old 06-06-2020, 11:16 PM   #1
forest dweller
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How do grizzly bears know that humans aren't food?

How do grizzly bears know that humans aren't food?

I mean, I've seen videos of them taking down elk and bison etc...

So if you get a chance to backpack in grizzly country, how do you rest easy in your tent knowing that the average hungry grizzly bear won't equate humans with food? And I don't mean the food humans bring with them, I mean how do they know that humans aren't food?!

Serious question!
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Old 06-07-2020, 07:35 PM   #2
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Interesting question.
Grizzles do attack and kill humans but almost always because they have been surprised or they are protecting a food cache or protecting their young. But they seldom eat them.
Why? I would guess that over generations they've been taught and learn that humans can hurt/kill them. Obviously they don't understand machinery and guns but they understand getting hurt/wounded and the noises from such and what/who was involved. While also they must be able to understand losing say a sibling or mother or cub and how it happened/what was involved.
I never been in a griz encounter but know black bears well. They almost always flee when in encountering man except in areas like dumps/picnic areas/backyard garbage areas where they know somehow they either are safe or dominate or are both.
And to be clear-they identify the scent/sight and sound of man as danger.
An old friend told me of a Grizz/brown bear encounter-He and a friend were in a tent in Alaska. They were armed with one 44mag handgun.
It was night but well lit when they heard a large bear shuffle and sniff its way into camp.
The handgun came out and the bear came to the side of the tent put his face against it which then became like a huge nylon mask and sniffed!
My friend said the handgun felt like a pea shooter.
The bear, not smelling food but only human, backed away and walked off.
If my friend and co-worker hadn't changed their cooking clothes, things may well have gotten deadly.
Camp cleanliness is important.

Last edited by Woodly; 06-07-2020 at 09:53 PM..
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Old 06-07-2020, 10:18 PM   #3
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I usually just pee all around my tent.
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Old 06-07-2020, 11:03 PM   #4
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This will get your arrector pili contracting:

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Old 06-08-2020, 10:36 AM   #5
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we probably taste like crap.

seriously tho, grizzlies don't eat every living creature. over the eons they evolved to prefer specific food sources just like every other animal including us.
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Old 06-08-2020, 10:45 AM   #6
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To cannibals we were 'Long Pig'.

There are plenty of good reading, Bear Attack, books...and some people survived these attacks for various reasons such as, the victim feinted death and the bear eventually left them; the bear was killed by the vic or a companion; noise and commotion from companions got the bear to leave.
Often enough the bear made its point and left but there are occasions where death to the victim was an absolute/had to happen scenario for whatever reason, The intensity of the attack proved that, fortunately others intervened.
I could name 2 ADK'ers who can attest to that last statement but won't.
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Old 06-08-2020, 10:58 AM   #7
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I usually just pee all around my tent.
Peeing in a can and then splashing it on bushes and tree trunks sends your scent out further and also says your big and tall.
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Old 06-08-2020, 12:31 PM   #8
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So, who needs to use a can?
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Old 06-08-2020, 05:33 PM   #9
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So, who needs to use a can?
If you can pee 6 or more feet in the air you don't...lol
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Old 06-08-2020, 06:57 PM   #10
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So we generally smell like something they associate with danger (to them)?
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Old 06-08-2020, 06:59 PM   #11
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This will get your arrector pili contracting:

I read that! One of the few books that I have read in fact. That happened in the late sixties and early seventies when humans were being REALLY irresponsible with food and garbage.
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Old 06-08-2020, 08:19 PM   #12
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So we generally smell like something they associate with danger (to them)?
Definitely, sight, scent and sounds we make. But don't take that as you are always safe in bear country. You do not want to become the exception to the rule.
Bears are alpha predators and you only need to see one skinned out to see how muscular they are. You, unless well armed, are not an alpha predator, you are food they've generally learned to avoid.

This, the following, is a bit different but I'll bet it is about the same with bears since they do have big brains and are intelligent.
Crows pass knowledge on for many generations, most everything they learn, including what is dangerous. They can be fooled but seldom twice by the exact same thing.
And I can attest to that as I use to be able to call a crow to within 25ft of me. That went on for about a year but one time I played a trick on it. I didn't scare or hurt it, I just didn't play our game the same way and it and every generation since won't come to my call.
They will come to food I put out within 75ft of me and will eat nervously but won't respond to my call.
I think a bear would/could learn to do same in a relative way.
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Old 06-11-2020, 09:41 PM   #13
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Some states have reciprocity which honors that state's gun permit. Montana honors PA but I don't think NY. But if they do you can carry a large caliber gun if that makes you feel better. But... you had better know how to use it and not be afraid to fire. Or... you can bring bear spray and back up bear spray. Grizzlies will generally keep their distance unless you pi$$ them off, or surprise them/ Then bear spray will send them packing, but its effect wears off soon. Female Black Bears come into estrus every two years and will attract male bears from great distances. So urinating can achieve the opposite effect for horny male bears attracted by a female who is "ready". Just follow the normal precautions and bring bear spray and you will be fine, including grizzlies.
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Old 06-11-2020, 11:41 PM   #14
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The question of carrying a firearm for protection was asked for the Yukon River canoe races. Assuming you had the proper permits to carry, it could be done, but there is a catch. Assuming you kill a bear for self defense out of season and without a license, you are required to bring the carcass to the closest official station of the provence if in the Yukon Territory or the state if in Alaska. The rub is, depending on where you are, the closest location could be as much as 100 miles or more upstream against a 6mph current. AFAIK, no one ever carried the question any further. We saw many bears of both types on the river bank, and even had some tracks at our random campsites, but we never had any problems with them. All our food was required to be in hard sided certified bear resistant canisters, as substantial tall trees of any size are lacking near the Arctic Circle.
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Old 06-12-2020, 08:27 AM   #15
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The question of carrying a firearm for protection was asked for the Yukon River canoe races. Assuming you had the proper permits to carry, it could be done, but there is a catch. Assuming you kill a bear for self defense out of season and without a license, you are required to bring the carcass to the closest official station of the provence if in the Yukon Territory or the state if in Alaska. The rub is, depending on where you are, the closest location could be as much as 100 miles or more upstream against a 6mph current. AFAIK, no one ever carried the question any further. We saw many bears of both types on the river bank, and even had some tracks at our random campsites, but we never had any problems with them. All our food was required to be in hard sided certified bear resistant canisters, as substantial tall trees of any size are lacking near the Arctic Circle.
Thanks for the update Paul.
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Old 06-12-2020, 08:19 PM   #16
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we probably taste like crap.
That's why they invented Béarnaise sauce.
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Old 06-13-2020, 02:08 PM   #17
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That's why they invented Béarnaise sauce.
I'll get your coat
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Old 06-13-2020, 11:48 PM   #18
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From what I was told and the little I understand, most bears are solitary animals while most humans are herd/pack animals.
Bears don't go after a pack of coyotes or wolves, while they can and will kill a stray given the chance.

Bruins are smarter then pigs and know a lot more then we think they're capable of. However, most bears certainly know that where there's one human there are or will be many more.
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Old 06-14-2020, 04:06 PM   #19
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Just sharing a video that I took 3 years ago at Siyeh Pass in Glacier National Park. We were about 5 miles from the closest road. He/she looked right at us and then did this little "dance". The bear was about 100' away. We had pepper spray but a strong wind was coming right at us rendering it useless. Strangely, I wasn't afraid. It was more like "extremely alert". He/she wandered off, unfortunately in the direction we had to go. Fortunately we did not see it again. This video was a big "hit" with the park rangers that night.

https://www.davebourqueimages.com/Gl...rk/i-VW9mcpf/A
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Old 06-16-2020, 11:08 AM   #20
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NYSDEC's recommendations to reduce bear conflicts.

https://content.govdelivery.com/acco...letins/290de67
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