Tom was very lucky. I lived and worked in Alsaka for 8 years in the late 1970s early '80, one of my former co-workers and his buddy, then employees of US Fish & Wildlife Service, were kayaking and camping At Katmia NM. They disappeared and only a few clothing items were found. We also had several employees with BLM castradral survey crews attacked when they inadventenly stumbled to close to bears in the alder brush. We were trained in bear psychology and how to avoid and react to bears. But, you cany be too careful. Bears are unpredictable.
Bob Ward, retired BLM
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Posted by: flyline on May-14-08 10:37 AM (EST)
Several years ago I paddled the Deerfield River in Mass. Traveling downstream in about two-feet of water, at one point on the left bank I passed an adult bear, a moment later I observed on the right bank, two cubs. It was a scary moment, and I was able to hydroplane my kayak.
Posted by: old_user on May-22-08 12:54 PM (EST)
Those were probably black bears, right? In Alaska, the wisdom is: If you are attacked by a brown bear, play dead (fetal position); if attacked by a black bear - FIGHT FOR YOUR LIFE! I guess they behave more like angry dogs! The last thing you want is being between the cups and the sow as you said.
Posted by: Kachemak_charlie on May-14-08 2:30 PM (EST)
I definitely agree with Bob's comments in regard to Tom being lucky. Bears are large, unpredictable omnivores that that will not hesitate to deal with a perceived threat in a definitive manner. Bears should be treated with the utmost caution and respect for their power. Observing bears from a distance is the only way to go. With good binoculars or a telephoto lens, there is no reason to approach bears as closely as Tom described in his article. His behavior demonstrates very poor judgement. Bear human encounters are almost always a double loss - an injured or dead person and then a dead bear in response.
Posted by: old_user on May-22-08 12:58 PM (EST)
I agree generally but having lived there for 15 years and observing bears during the salmon runs I was very comfortable in the kayak...at a distance..the encounter up the creek was after NOT seeing bears at all for two days. The steaming scat was first indication that they were in that immediate area hence my leaving the scene. One should not deliberately challenge the bears as that idiot did in the Herzog documentary, but one can't be outdoors without some risk. I didn't encourage the encounter, but was prepared and cautious of it.
Posted by: old_user on May-22-08 12:51 PM (EST)
Hi, yes, very respectful of bears...there was a lot of human activity in Kaflia when we where there and I did try to make my presence known.