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  Bears in the camp!
  Posted by: old_user on Jan-05-10 11:11 PM (EST)

Our scout leader was telling us the other night about a kid who got drug away with his tent by a bear. He ended up with a bunch of stitches.

My question is what are we to do with these "tame" bears?

How about a few bags of rat poison?

Guns are not an option for a scout camp.

Is there a bear-proof tent?

How do you defend yourself?

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Messages in this Topic


  Keep a clean camp
  Posted by: jerryohare on Jan-06-10 7:15 AM (EST)
and don't worry. As long as you keep a clean camp; cook away from your sleeping area, clean fish and dispose of entrails away from camp, be careful not to drop food around camp or in the tent, never eat in your tent and properly store (hang or bear barrel) your food and other scented item you will likely not even see a bear. Black bear encounters are very rare and usually not a threat. Just have fun and don't worry.
  There are bear canisters
  Posted by: kayamedic on Jan-06-10 12:31 PM (EST)
but the common blue barrels are not bear proof.

I just do not store food anywhere near my camp. The barrel gets put in the bush with a piece of flagging tape out of the way maybe 400 meters away.

Odor proofing is your best defense as well as avoiding campsites that have been habituated by bears.

What the previous camper has done impacts you greatly.
  Also don't sleep in the same clothes
  Posted by: Reefmonkey on Mar-09-10 11:55 AM (EST)
you cooked dinner in.
  scary to think about
  Posted by: old_user on Apr-22-10 11:54 PM (EST)
my fear is being skunked
  You're right -- most of the time
  Posted by: old_user on Dec-11-10 10:34 AM (EST)
We encountered one bear on the Churchill river, a day's paddle upstream from Otter lake. Bear arrived as we were cooking dinner. We'd been in camp less than an hour. He was a yearling bear.

Proceeded to come into camp, flip the canoes over to check them out, swatted a 5 gallon pail.

Meanwhile we are jumping up and down making lots and lots of noise. Bear ignores us. First bear banger we used he runs up a tree 3-4 feet. Then drops back down. After that he ignores bear bangers. He'd skitter away if we made noise and were under 20 feet away.

We packed up, and paddled to an island a mile off shore.

At Missinippi we reported the encounter to the local conservation service. They had similar reports, and this bear was on their list for lead poisoning.


The year we did the Mujatik it was an unsual day that we didn't see at least one bear. We had one moderately fearless bear come into camp in early evening. After running him off once, we could hear him in the surrounding bush. That night we kept the fire going and kept a watch, and while we heard him on and off most of the night, he didn't return to camp.


Other than that, poster is right. A clean camp, minimize use of scented products such as soap, febreeze, deoderant will be sufficient.

THAT said:

  bear fence
  Posted by: Mattt on Jan-06-10 9:22 AM (EST)
I've seen on TV where they will use an electric fence around a camp in the acrtic to keep polar bears away - it may help to deter the bears, and also might give more warning time. Not a cheap solution though, nor lightweight as I think that that system used solar charged batteries. You could probably google for bear fence or something like that to find info.

Scouts getting pulled out of tents or sleeping bags happens usually a couple of times a year in Colorado.
I've always suspected that it is probably related to kids maybe having candy bars and stuff like that in thier pockets, which may add that scent to the clothes, and wiping food off the hands onto a pair of pants or shirt sleeves. So aside from keeping a clean camp,and not ever bringing any food into a tent, sleeping in a clean set of clothes and washing up before bed may help avoid smelling like a meal to a bear.
  Posted by: old_user on Jan-06-10 12:49 PM (EST)
It's gotta be impossible to keep all the smells away. Are we supposed to sleep in bear barrels?

What about sleeping up high in the trees?
  Bears climb much better than
  Posted by: kayamedic on Jan-06-10 1:00 PM (EST)
you can.

How many here have seen a bear in the wild?

Its not impossible to avoid odors. Dehydrated food helps. Its in vacuum bags and that in itself contains odors.

Moreover its lighter to carry for those multiweek trips.
  Posted by: MarkK on Jan-06-10 8:54 PM (EST)
Many have given good advice. My addition to emphasize is no food or smelly things in tents. I don't even take unscented Chapstick in a tent. In Griz country it is even advised to not take clothing in the tent you cooked in. I've had black bears come into camp, sniff around and leave. A clean camp thwarted them. A couple of times I had to make some noise to scare them off. One time I had rocks in hand to throw until the noise must have become unbearable and it ran. One time when I was backpacking alone in the BWCA I had a black bear sniff (more like a hog sound) around my tent. I let my hair stand on end for a bit and then make loud clapping sounds with shouts. It ran. There were no smells to make the bear want to tear its way in. Run a clean camp and either hang food the correct way aways from camp (don't use the obvious tree everyone else does as bears know those as pinatas) or "hide" it a ways from camp in a plastic barrel in bushes (not off a ways from camp on a game or other trail that bears probably use). These are needed to stop mice, raccoons, etc from destroying packs too.
Smelly things include the obvious plus spilled food on clothing, soap, fish smelling hands, washed cook kits, etc.
When you hear any animal in camp make noise (clap hands, holler, bang something together - two scout leaders would work , ha -, sing some disco - my wife sang once to scare a bear that wanted to go the direction we were coming from on a path (long story)) and they will run. Unless its a nosey Canadian Jay.
  bears in camp
  Posted by: old_user on Jan-06-10 9:11 PM (EST)
definitely depends on what kind of bear you're talking about.

I have a lot of experience with just black bears. The wild ones generally run away with clapping or yelling at it. The humanized ones just aren't scared of man.

Campgrounds can be bad just because people can be idiots and will dump their food on the ground. Hanging a bear bag in a tree can be a fun activity and is about all you need to do apart from not sleeping with food wrappers.

i've heard of people stacking throwing-sized rocks by their bags. and if the bear doesn't scare easily, start chuckin', which will help.
  Posted by: old_user on Jan-07-10 11:26 PM (EST)
What about using a good slingshot to scare them away?
  you have to carry around with you
  Posted by: kayamedic on Jan-07-10 11:47 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Jan-07-10 11:48 PM EST --

all the time whatever deterrent you are going to use.

It does no good if you dont have your weapon at hand.

You must practice with it whether it be a slingshot or bear cannot afford to spray yourself or pelt a human.

I have had several bear encounters. All were on the trail walking and in the daytime. Having your group make noise in this case does make sense.

I may have had a sniffing bear next to my tent once. I didnt get up to check. It went away.

Put into perspective the most dangerous thing about a camping trip is the drive. There ARE predatory bears but they are rare.

Even the bear that my husband hit with a car and did not kill ( but it could not walk) did not attack him.(Of course he had to check what he had hit. A 350 lb rug)

  Posted by: old_user on Jan-08-10 12:20 AM (EST)
I'm a long-distance hiker and I'm up to seeing 27 in the wild so far (just black bears). Been arms-length from a couple (obviously not by choice).

it's extremely rare to be attacked by a black bear, so consider yourself lucky if you do get to see one.

I've run into a handful of ones in New England that weren't scared of humans. they were mostly apathetic that I was there. don't look it in the eye, turn your back on it, or run (good luck getting kids not to freak out, though). back away somewhat slowly and you'll be just fine.

and don't pitch your tents right below your food bag, which for some reason i've seen people do before.
  Most bears are after food, and most
  Posted by: ezwater on Jan-08-10 9:14 PM (EST)
can be deterred with noise and arm-waving.

On rare occasions, a black bear has started to regard people as food. Reportedly, such a bear will bore right in on you, not roaring and standing like a grizzly, but with a focus indicating you may become dinner. If you don't have firearms, violent counterattack may be your best option. Get a club, smack him, scream and roar, or you may be dead.
  Posted by: old_user on Jan-08-10 9:42 PM (EST)
Thanks for all the great info! I do not live in bear country but want to have an insiders understanding for when we go next summer.
  Electric fences?
  Posted by: BeaverJack on Jan-12-10 8:18 PM (EST)
Yeah, right. I knew an outfitter who used those in Wyoming to corral horses. It didn't work. We ended up chasing horses. Bears have heavy hair coats. That little shock would mean nothing. Best medicine I found while guiding in bear country was a riot gun stuffed with deer slugs. Who said scouts can't be around firearms? Where is that written? Seems like respect for firearms and safe handling of weapons are things that should be taught to scouts, first and foremost. The Remington Marine Magnum 12ga is a fine choice for expedition canoeing, and you can even get one into Canada, although not easily.
  Posted by: jhb8426 on Jan-09-10 12:19 AM (EST)
the scout leader was trying to impress a lesson on you.

The first one being: NO FOOD IN TENTS.
The second: Keep a clean campsite.

Scout camps, and scout troops in general are notorious for violating these. Our troop was adamant about this and we never had a problem. They'd wander through and keep going. Camps in norther MN and WI.

I've had two go through my campsite at Sawbill. They sniffed a bit and moved on.
  Bears in Scout Camps
  Posted by: plaidpaddler on Jan-09-10 6:10 PM (EST)
Most camps will rid themselves of aggressive bears. The Adirondack camps where i have spent summers all have bears during camps season. Any tent raided by a bear had items stored that were not supposed to be in a tent. Illicit candy stashes are the #1 cause of bear damage. But candy flavored toothpaste and mouthwash are also attractive to critters. Squirrels and chipmunks have chewed thru packs and duffels to make off with mint flavored Crest.
Food smells will be all over a patrol cooking site, so no tent is more attractive than another. Keeping a clean cooking area and table are essential and will be taught in every Scout Camp. Keeping clean tents and storing the scented items away from the tents is the troops responsibility and guidelines for this will be taught.
Don't worry that your boys will be hauled away. I had only one tent entry in 16 years of summer camp. That boy had put a whole bag of Snickers miniatures in a sweaty sock and doused it with cologne and stuck it in his sleeping bag; a trick he said he aquired from his cousin who went to Salvation Army camp. It worked for his cousin because that camp has cabins and had not seen a bear for 50 years. Even then the bear just pulled the sleeping bag from the tent, opened it with his teeth and took the sock, candy and all. The boy made his escape out the other end of the tent when he heard the bear poke his head into the front. Cabin tents on platforms in Scout camps are open around the bottom edges of the canvas and bears can put their heads underneath and boys can slip out similarly.
Enjoy the camp experience, follow the rules, and don't worry.
  Posted by: old_user on Jan-11-10 7:23 AM (EST)
It would be a great idea to have a sleeping bag that opens on two ends so if a bear comes in one end a kid could crawl out the other end!
  I go to the extreme
  Posted by: point65kayakguy on Jan-11-10 2:05 PM (EST)
of taking everything out of my kayak that has scent as well. I cant imagine waking to the noise of fiberglass shattering was a bear pouches on my kayak to get at toothpaste!Would suck really bad if your on a island somewhere!

I use my dry bags and hang all my food as per and have only a couple run in's with bears.

Once on Wade Island in Georgian bay. At last light we had noticed a large blackbear on a island across from us about 100m. We were following the GLSKA volunteer fire ban and were sitting around on chairs talking in the dark. By the time we noticed the bear he was about 10 feet from us. I dunno who was startled more. As soon as we stood up and yelled he took off.

I've had issues with humanized bears who were not aggressive...but didn't give a crap I was there either. And thats dangerous. Time for me to leave at that point!
  Posted by: old_user on Jan-12-10 9:13 PM (EST)
Anyone ever hang their boat up in a tree?
  Bears! Bears! & More BEARS!!!
  Posted by: Murph1 on Jan-12-10 10:03 PM (EST)
Over my 55 years plus of backpacking, mountaineering, river running and expedition canoeing I have come in contact with many bears. All of the problem bears I have encountered lived in three places, Yosemite National Park, Mt. Rainier National Park, and Yellowstone National Park. Interesting that all those places are in the National Park System where uneducated people come into contact with wildlife and forget that the wildlife is called "wild" for a reason. Black bears, by nature will beat a fast retreat when confronted by humans unless three situations arise:
l. Continued exposure to humans in their
2. Food Sources left out where bears can
get to them.
3. Sows are with cubs and humans get too close.
Grizzlies are a different story. They are territorial, and by nature, not likely to be impressed by an aggressive human. Problems arise when people:
1. Travel through berry thickets or areas the
grizzlies are feeding in.
2. Humans don't secure food and keep scents
down that grizzlies are attracted too.
3. Humans surprise the bear by approaching
from downwind without making any sound.
4. Humans sleep on trails or campsites that
the bears regularly travel through
5. Individuals encounter grizzlies just out of
semi hibernation in the spring when they
are grumpy and aggressive.
Polar bears, like grizzlies, do not fear humans and in some cases will at times stalk people as food. In the High Arctic no one goes out on the ice without a large caliber rifle or shotgun.
At an established scout camp the best defense against a black bear problem is limiting smells and sources of food the bears will be interested in. Scouts should be trained to put all candy, goodies, etc in Bear Proof Barrels and the barrels stored away from sleeping areas. Clothing that scouts wear while cooking should be changed out of before bedtime and stored away from sleeping areas. If a "people" bear begins frequenting a camp the Forest Service Ranger for your area should be contacted and it then becomes their problem.
Some communities have resorted to shooting "people" bears with bean bag rounds which don't hurt the bear, but definitely give it the message it isn't wanted in the area.
I am sure if you contacted the Rangers at Yosemite, Glacier, Yellowstone, Mt Rainier or any other of the western national parks they could provide you with a list of things to do to limit your bear problems.
The number of incidents in Yosemite have dropped dramatically since they instituted their bearproofing program about 18 years back.
Take Care!
  Bears in Camp
  Posted by: old_user on Jan-21-10 7:47 PM (EST)
I've struggled with the whole "Don't leave food where bears can get to it" thing when I am kayaking in Georgian Bay. It's all rock there with very few trees. Typically there is no place to hang food. I have always double packed food in dry bags and left it in my kayak. I have also put straps on the covers to keep out the raccoons. I always keep the boats away from the tent.

I guess I've been lucky - no intrusions. I have often wondered what would happen if a bear wanted the food. I think my Explorer would be shards of fiberglass.

So what would you do in this situation?
  georgian bay
  Posted by: point65kayakguy on Jan-22-10 2:06 AM (EST)
has been the place I had the most encounters with bears.5 days we had 3 in our camp from point aux barrel down to the mink/mcoy's and ending at franklin. We had plenty of trees to hang where we were however. And man can those blackbears swim!
  they can climb too
  Posted by: kayamedic on Jan-22-10 10:23 AM (EST)
And some of them can get out on ropes.

Hanging properly is sometimes tough to pull off.

  it sure is.
  Posted by: point65kayakguy on Jan-22-10 5:37 PM (EST)
seen some pretty nice set ups in a few camps that people had left there.
  Posted by: razor on Jan-14-10 7:39 AM (EST)
  Thanks Murph1
  Posted by: old_user on Jan-17-10 10:40 PM (EST)
I think you've said it well. Just needed some education on this before I get into such an area.

Tonight at scouts we dug quinzees in some snow piles. Some of those scouts handle a shovel like a woman but none were afraid to get into the snow and work hard at it. Learned that you need two kinds of shovels, a long one and a very small one to widen out the tunnel into a small room.

Overall scouts is very educational for both kids and leaders and I am sort of living a childhood that I never had since I wasn't in scouts but did want to be.
  snow shoveling
  Posted by: spidersplash on Jan-18-10 8:21 AM (EST) thats going to win a lot of points from the women shoveling out from this snowstorm....

and then the bear came along and took that shovel and....
  Well the OP
  Posted by: kayamedic on Jan-18-10 10:57 AM (EST)
was trollish so I expected that remark.

Where can I find a good snowshovelling bear?

They all refuse to get out of bed.

I guess I will go take my womanish shovelling technique outside and start on the deck and steps and driveway. We have about 16 inches here overnight.

Who needs a man?
  Who Needs a Man!
  Posted by: Murph1 on Jan-23-10 12:13 PM (EST)
It is a proved fact that men produce more body heat than women because of larger muscle density. On a cold night we just might come in handy!
Sound advice from an "Old Irishman" Ho!

On the topic of storing food away from bears. Out here in California and the Pacific Northwest almost all kayakers, backpackers, climbers, and river runners carry their food in Garcia Bearproof Barrels if they are in problem bear country. No one hangs food unless it is from established wires installed by the Park or Forest Service. A Bearproof barrel costs around $60.and weighs around a pound and a half. So far no bear I know of has figured out how to insert a coin or knife blade into the two locks on the end of the barrels in order to open them.
I do know, and have seen bears chew through cords used to double hang food out from the trunk of trees. I know of one instance where a sow taught her two cubs to jump onto packs hung from wires between trees. Bears are very sharp and where food is concerned will go to great lenghts to get to it.
Watched a bear at Tanaya Lake Parking area in Yosemite rip a door off of a sedan which had a water cooler sitting in the back seat visible to the bear through the windows.
I am also probably the only backpacker to ever hike eighteen miles into the backcountry to feed the bears my week supply of food. It took one bear about ten minutes to chew through my nylon hanging cord, grab my stuff sack full of food, and take off running with me throwing rocks at him as he disappeared into the darkness. Must be why I don't backpack in Yosemite any more.
Sorry you all had to "bear" another Murph bear story!!! Take Care!
Happy Paddling
  Posted by: jhb8426 on Jan-24-10 12:23 AM (EST)
My wife firmly believes that just looking at a snow shovel on my part will induce a heart attack.

So who am I to destroy that belief? :)
  throwing rocks
  Posted by: old_user on Jan-26-10 6:29 PM (EST)
I have used rocks to repel raccoons, and squirrels with good results. I have attempted to use rocks to repel a dog and a badger. That doesn't work so well. I was able to get away from the badger. The dog, not so much. I would suspect that against an aggressive bear, throwing rocks would be more likely to provoke it to attack than repel it. Something to think about anyway.
Bear spray is probably better than rocks.
  Sticks & Stones!
  Posted by: Murph1 on Jan-26-10 10:28 PM (EST)
The effectiveness of throwing rocks at bears depends on three things:
l. Kind of Bear
2. Bears Mind Set
3. Size of the Rock
A rock thrown at a Black Bear who is not people oriented may get it to leave. A rock thrown at a Grizzly is probably going to piss the bear off substantially and you are going to have a big problem. As for Polar Bears it taint very likely you are going to have any rocks to throw in the first place.
I have never thrown rocks at a bear, but have thrown Ponderosa Pine Cones at one. It was a black bear and it did flee the scene.
Bear Spray is, in my opinion, more of a moral builder than a deterent to a bear. Grizzlies are known to go after skunks when hungry and despite taking direct hits they still kill the skunks. Bear spray is obviously stronger, but I wouldn't count on it stopping an initial attack from a Grizzly.
Short of carrying a 300 Magnum Rifle, 12 Gage Shotgun with single ball ammo, or a 44 Mag or 50 Cal handgun your best bet is try to avoid bad bear situations, and if attacked protect your head and neck and play dead.
Considering the number of bears out there in our wildernesses and the huge number of people visiting those habitats the number of bear attacks is low each year. There are lots of other dangers in the outdoors far more likely to give outdoorspersons a problem.
Topping the list are hypothermia, drowning, heat stroke, and lightning strikes. Bear attacks, cougar attacks, and poisonous snake bites are way down the list of human problems.
Enjoy the outdoors and get over the fear of bears. Be sensible while in bear country and you shouldn't have to worry!!!!
  Posted by: old_user on Jan-26-10 10:33 PM (EST)
Bears and mountain lions make fearful headlines. Myself being from Iowa where there are no bears am in want of info about all this so I don't look stupid next summer up north.
  my wife
  Posted by: jonsprag1 on Feb-10-10 7:43 AM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Feb-10-10 7:47 AM EST --

has been handling a snow shovel very well for the past four days--even though she's not a scout master--but hey, if you need some practice come to my place and I'll let you shovel all the snow that you need to

  Posted by: Reefmonkey on Mar-09-10 12:13 PM (EST)
"Overall scouts is very educational for both kids and leaders and I am sort of living a childhood that I never had since I wasn't in scouts but did want to be."

Same here for me. When I was a teen, I didn't really have any interest in camping and hiking, I was all about sailing, so I did sea scouts, not boy scouts. Then when I started dating my now wife and her then 5 year old son, I thought it would be fun to take them camping (car camping). Learned quite a lot from our mistakes in those first few campouts. Then my stepson and I did cubscouts together (with me as den leader) as a way for us to bond, and now we're into boyscouts, so we're not just doing car camping anymore. We're backpacking in Hill Country State Natural Area this coming weekend. I have come to love backpacking, car camping is so boring by comparison. It's something I probably would have never gotten into if it had not been for doing boy scouts with my stepson. I've really enjoyed learning the skills alongside him, it really makes me feel like I am making up for not having done boyscouts as a kid.
  watch your neighbors, too
  Posted by: grakenverb on Jan-30-10 3:49 PM (EST)
A few years back I was paddling a section of the NFCT with 2 other paddlers. We had a long day of paddling, set up camp, ate dinner, cleaned up, bear proofed the site (bear barrels in the woods away from camp) put in our earplugs (heavy snorer along)and went to bed. Meanwhile, 50 yards away at the next campsite, a large party decided that it would be a good idea to "hide" their food in the deck hatch of a $2000 kayak. A short time later a bear came along, smelled the food, and reduced the value of the kayak by about $1995. These guys freaked out and chased the bear toward our site by banging pots together and throwing things at it. The bear carried a cooler into our site, made himself comfortable about 6 inches from my head and proceded to chew on the cooler.
The next morning, Mr. Kayak came over to our site and was incredulous that we didn't wake up. All I could say was, "thank God you DIDN'T wake me up!" If I had unzipped the tent and seen the bear 6 inches from my head I would have had a heart attack. These guys were traveling in the same direction as us and we saw them at a few portages over the next few days. Believe it or not, they were calling US "the bear guys"! Anyway, even if you do everything right, remember that bears don't have a copy of "the rules" and may wind up chewing on a cooler right next to your head.
  Bear in the tent
  Posted by: bordertrail on Feb-03-10 8:53 AM (EST)
I was in the neighboring campsite when the bear went into the Scouts tent. The Scout had several packs of twinkies in the tent. After eating the twinkies the bear apparently had trouble finding the exit and did a panic run. The Scout in his sleeping was in the way as the bear was running. The bear finally got out of the tent, which received a lot of damage. The did not attack the Scout. That is what is called collateral damage. The next year that Scout worked on the camp staff.
  black bears
  Posted by: jonsprag1 on Feb-10-10 7:39 AM (EST)
I'm assuming you are talking about black bears here, not grizzlys---as long as you keep a clean camp(no food loose or near or in the tents) you shouldn't have a problem--black bears are generally not very aggressive and somwhat shy---I've had three encounters with them in Maine--in two cases the bears ran off after they saw me---in the third case I retreated--I came across a sow with cubs--always avoid a mamma bear with kiddies--

my advice to you is to stop worrying about it. The only incident of a black bear attacking a person that I've heard about in Maine involved a hunter who wounded the bear and had to track it in thick brush. He came across it unexpectedly and it attacked him. It inflicted minor injuries before he was able to shoot it.
  Campground Bears
  Posted by: TommyC1 on Feb-24-10 8:21 PM (EST)
Black bears who get habituated to humans and our food can be a problem.
I've encountered wild bears who disappeared as soon as they realized I was there. I've also encountered campground bears who were not afraid of a large group of us and really didn't want to leave without our food. They didn't get it but I was not at all confident of the outcome.
  If you're truly concerned
  Posted by: Reefmonkey on Mar-09-10 12:00 PM (EST)
then have one person always on watch in camp. Make each adult or older boy take a 2 hour shift. Give them a couple pots to bang together if a bear approaches camp. That would do it.

When I was a sea scout we were in the habit of always having someone on watch when we were sleeping in the boat at anchor or a mooring. Anchors can drag, the wind can change direction, etc., and someone needs to be on watch to handle that.
  Posted by: paddletothesea on Mar-09-10 3:49 PM (EST)
Read some of the bear websites on the internet that will help you understand the animal for starters.

Poisoning a bear because it is doing a bear trait would be like shooting a human for doing something human.
Best to avoid the situation as best you can by eliminating "the reasons" why the bear was there.
They are all unpredicable....just like you would have 100 different possilbe reactions for a human etc.
Bears are looking for FOOD or protecting their young.
Black bears are the most common food scavengers...if you are in an area where there has always been food such as camps where people leave/drop food around or create a messy smelly camp...well then you will most likely have bears....just like you would also have Ravens, mice, ants, and raccoons too. They are all in it for the food. i.e SURVIVAL.
So have a clean camp and dont camp where a bunch of inconsiderate other people have camped and left food/smells etc. Properly store your food away, clean dishes, cook AWAY from tents/campers etc if possible, Dont cook in the same cloths your going to wear to bed etc etc.
In my area its one of the largest grizzley concentrations in the we have to take precautions for them as well as black bears. There is NOT a big problems and for the most part we generally dont "worry" about it BUT do take the proper precaustions each time as stated above. We also HANG our food if we are backpacking or paddling in Grizz country. We hang EVERYTHING that is ASSOCIATED WITH FOOD AND SMELLS....such as toothpaste and tooth brush, spaltulas, and cooking pots/utnesils, pot holders, cooking oils, spices, deoderant, sun screen, chap stick/balm, scented diapers/and poweders etc (if you have kids) even the cook stove! WHEN DISCARDING ANY FOOD TYPE OR SMELL THINGS>>>> YOU ALSO WANT TO dump IN THE FIRE PIT if you have one. CHARCOAL IS A SMELL ELIMINATOR!!!! SO.....DONT SPIT OUT YOUR TOOTH PASTE OR DRAIN YOUR PASTA NOODLES OR COFFEE Grounds ON THE GROUND WHERE THE NEXT family will be putting their tents the following week after YOU left. BE CONSIDERATE OF other people and STOP TRAINING the bears as to where the food is by doing this. If you dont have a fire, try to bury above mentioned items instead of just on the ground etc. Just imagine for a moment if you NEVER SWEPT OR MOPPED YOUR KITCHEN FLOOR FOR ONE YEAR...Imagine this! How much food scraps, crumbs, smells, will accumulate on the floor? I bet it would be a lot!! Its the same with your camp location. Some of those campgrounds have people everynight for the whole summer.

Another precaution is encountering bears with cubs. A no-no! The mothers are protective of their young. SO DONT SUPRISE THEM and make noise when traveling through the woods as not to startle them etc. In my area we also carry bear-spray (mace) which WORKS!!!!! There has never been anyone in my area that was killed that had the spray and were attacked, and i think thats true for the rest of those who have used it. The number of bear attacks/maulings/deaths etc is much lower than getting hit by lighting, drownings, bee sting deaths etc.
  Bears Can Learn From The Campers
  Posted by: SupremelyArrogant on Mar-09-10 5:22 PM (EST)
That proceded you. A bear can trash a tent because it has learned that tents might have food in them. Even clean tents can be at risk. The problem with scouts is that they travel in large groups. That limits them. Kids frequenting any area will have an impact. That's because they're kids. Promoting large get-togethers is bad environmental stewardship. Scout camps are better off if they are developed sites without the food storage and human waste problems. Many forests are limiting the number of heartbeats per camp. That means your dogs and horses count as people. The problem scouts have is that the organizational structure makes it almost impossible to practice sound environmental practices out in nature. In other words don't blame the bears blame the scouts.
  yeah that too
  Posted by: paddletothesea on Mar-09-10 8:39 PM (EST)
exactly....condition response. Same with Wildlife biologist who are always sticking their hands inside the bears mouth that are tranquilized have the taste of human inside the mouth..... Bear: ""'hmmm food?!"
  NO Don't blame the scouts
  Posted by: jhb8426 on Mar-09-10 10:22 PM (EST)
Blame the leaders for not training them well or not being trained themselves (or just plain stupid). Our troop never had a problem with bears in the 20 years I was associated with them. I recall numerous instances where neighboring troop sites got ravaged. One in particular had a food tent central to the site, with fresh fish no less! A bear hit it the second nite and came back every day for the week. Tore the place apart.

We strictly enforced no food in tents and a clean camp site.
  Personal Responsibility
  Posted by: old_user on Apr-16-10 3:07 PM (EST)
Keeping a clean camping area, by keeping food out of reach & other things w/a fragrance, is done by hanging the items in covered cannisters or using bear cannisters. That may help you, but if previous campers kept food out and attracted bears, the bears will have already developed the habit/sense that food is available there.

In WA state one year, they simply closed a camping area due to bears showing up, due to CAMPERS!!! You can't kill all the bears or relocate them all due to PEOPLE misusing the campgrounds.

The forest is where the bears live. You can't take them out of their home or kill them so people can camp. Campers need to take personal responsibility.

Raccoons are an issue here too. They WILL make a hole in your tent to get at food left inside, which should not be there.


  Posted by: old_user on Apr-17-10 10:27 AM (EST)
I have many questions here:

-First, why are guns not an option in a scout camp? Someone needs to reverse the direction this country's thinking is going. Guns are a fact of civilization, and they're not going away. Why would the scouts not be teaching all scouts..girls and boys, basic gun safety. And that guns are not to be handled unless with an adult? I grew up where guns were in the home, just about every closet had a rifle or shotgun leaning in the corner. They probably were loaded too, but I'm not sure. I was that they were dangerous and to be left alone unless I was with dad. Guns and the outdoors go hand in hand. Scouts, outdoors, and guns should be meshed together. A gun is a safety item, not an items kids should fear or taught to pretend doesn't exist. The more people hide from guns, and try to extinguish them from their thinking, the more firearms accidents happen in this country. Thats a provable fact.

-What to do with bears that no longer act as bears? Teach them thats camping scouts do have guns. teach them (again) that people are dangerous to be around. teach them to be afraid. The more these granola do-gooders venture into the outdoors, and allow bears to push them around or drive them to camp the worse off EVERYONE is and will be. You and the scouts are not at fault here, so please dont take my words that way. You're a victim of others who have taught bears that we fear them, that we're a food source, that they can push us around with no negative impact. This "modern bear" attitude has also grown and spread as people hide from guns rather that be armed. When I was a kid, we had plenty of bears around without issue. If a bear ever came into camp, my dad or an other adult would have killed it without even thinking twice. So, a lot needs to change but there does need to be a gun in camp, and people need to kill these bears who have learned the wrong lessons. Let me also be clear that the bear isn't at fault. It's a tragedy that they will need to die simply for being smart, and adapting. Sadly, the same do-gooder granolas that wont hurt a fly are the ones directly responsible for bears who need to be killed because nature boy and nature girl has food hanging in a bag but wont defend it. Again, around here...bears that get bossy with people get shot. Bears that get seen crossing a road get a pack of hounds dropped onto them. Most bears stay away from camps, human scent, and vehicles. That's when they're truly beautiful and wild.
  Posted by: jhb8426 on Apr-18-10 12:17 AM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Apr-18-10 12:21 AM EST --

Scout camps have a gun/shooting program. You just can't have them in your camp site, just like the military keeps all the guns in an armory rather than in the barracks. Saves on a lot of unnecessary trips to the emergency room.

When possible the DNR will capture a problem bear and move it. If all else fails they will kill it. This happened at the scout camp we go to a few times.

When you're out on your own, feel free to carry all the fire power you need.

  funny no one has mentioned
  Posted by: kayamedic on Apr-19-10 12:34 PM (EST)
bear bangers.

I wouldn't think they are against Scout policy.
  Posted by: jhb8426 on Apr-19-10 2:17 PM (EST)
You guessed wrong - fireworks...
  Posted by: Beaverjack on Apr-23-10 5:04 PM (EST)
"If people practice clean camping, minimize impact, and take all necessary precautions, there should be no need for "defense" via firearms or other overt deterrent measures."

"Should," as in "life is always fair?" Sounds like famous last words to me. Your last name isn't Treadwell is it?
  I think the issue is
  Posted by: old_user on Apr-21-10 11:15 AM (EST)
more about lessening human impact than self-defense. If people practice clean camping, minimize impact, and take all necessary precautions, there should be no need for "defense" via firearms or other overt deterrent measures. Especially with black bears and in the lower-48. AK is a slightly different story, but bear spray DOES work.

  Don't Feed The Bears!!!
  Posted by: old_user on Apr-21-10 6:44 PM (EST)
I've been camping in WA state, in bear country, for 13 years. It really is all about cleanliness in the campground.

Bears have food in the forest, so if you don't tempt them with another source, they tend to get their food from the backcountry as they always have with no problems.

I've had great bear encounters. One with two bears grazing along a mountainside I was facing in the Olympic Mountains in WA state, and it was incredible to watch them. It was in the middle of a 3 day roundtrip backpacking trip, where I think hiker/campers who really care about the enviornment tend to hike in that far & do the right thing.

My second encounter was walking along a trail where bear tend to be spotted as it was fall and they are out eating the ripe blueberries. The bear was fairly close below me, on the mountainside, very involved in eating what NATURE provided. I watched, took video and moved along on my hike. This trail was surrounding Mt. Rainier.

  Posted by: Beaverjack on May-02-10 8:00 AM (EST)
Some of you seem to think that black bears are no threat to humans. Black bears account for the majority of bear attacks, human deaths due to bear attack, and human use of deadly force against wildlife threats, even in Canada, where griz and polar bears have ample opportunity to affect the statistics. Yes, if people kept cleaner camps and if bears weren't already habituated, there would be fewer deadly situations, and it's not fair when an animal dies due to something it's learned from people. All good points to put on your tombstone. You do not know what a bear is going to do in any particular situation, and there are ample statistics to show that deadly attacks are more common than the PETA crowd realizes.
  I guess I should tremble
  Posted by: kayamedic on May-03-10 1:41 PM (EST)
before I go outside. There might be bears around. No make that there ARE bears around. So far the kids at the bus stop have not made a good breakfast for bruin.
  Time for a story.
  Posted by: Beaverjack on May-03-10 8:07 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: May-03-10 8:14 PM EST --

Back in 2000 or 2001, I was guiding south of Yellowstone. We took a couple out for a pack in camp near Two Oceans Pass. Since I'm an early riser, I got up each morning to start a fire and make coffee. Of course, mother nature's call was the 1st order of business, so I went off by flashlight one morning down the timberline and found a suitable place to do what needed to be done. We had two border collies with us, and I heard them raising cane back at camp and the horses were jumping around quite a bit. I finished my deed and went back to quiet the animals before they woke the clients. Well, as soon as I got back to camp, my partner let the dogs out of the wall tent and they headed straight into the timber. As I was looking down the timberline, out comes this griz right from where I had been not 3 minutes earlier. He went to the middle of the park, spun around towards where the dogs were and shook his head like I've never seen an animal shake. Then, he spun around and headed across the park to the next timberline and disapeared. As if that wasn't enough, the next two nights we were visited by a bear who grunted around the tents. We kept the dogs in, and when the bear got sniffing right next to the wall tent at the foot of my cot, my partner fired a shot in the air through the tent door. The bear left and didn't come back the rest of the week. The first shell was buckshot, meant to be a noisy warning or a stinging one, with deer slugs to follow in case the warning was not heeded. For the rest of my years packing, I never went to answer nature's call without my shotgun.

Yeah, I am armed in bear country and I'm armed at rest areas along the highway. I've camped in the mountains of southern Arizona where smuggling and illegal fugitives makes it the smart thing. I carry a pistol in everyday life, so it only makes good sense to go armed in remote places. In fact, I can't really think of a place I wouldn't prefer to be armed. I figure it's better to have a weapon and never need it than to need it and not have it. It is true that in most eastern parks, the human threat is greater than any threat posed by bears, but bears do kill and maime people. You just have to decide whether you're going to be a survivor or a victim.

  I am going to be a survivor
  Posted by: kayamedic on May-03-10 8:30 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: May-03-10 8:31 PM EST --

with bear spray and bangers. I dont carry and figure that when they leave me in camp with the shotgun against griz its a bad thing.. I will shoot myself.

Its your right to arm yourself and do as you see fit. Liked the story.

So far I have gotten away for seven decades with no gun and most of the summers are in bear country except the last ten years when all is in bear country. We do get a break in the winter. Not talking griz though. Nor polar.

  Only takes once.
  Posted by: Beaverjack on May-08-10 7:27 AM (EST)
I survived most of my life without ever wearing a seat belt. Is not wearing one the smart thing? Nope.
  most black bears wont chew your face off
  Posted by: old_user on May-10-10 6:44 PM (EST)
I just wrote a blog post on this topic for a couple of my scaredy cat canoe camping friends. It's based on information from the North American Bear Center in Minnesota. It seems black bears in the United States are generally timid but maybe not so true for black bears in Canada and Alaska. Watch the video.
  Grizzly vs. Black Bear
  Posted by: old_user on May-10-10 10:30 PM (EST)
Grizzlies tend to be in Canada, but of course, they know no boundaries and are also called Brown Bears. They are more likely to attack over Black Bears.

Yes, Black Bears can be timid. They will get out of your way if they hear you coming most times, except if a mom has her cub or cubs with her, then you're toast, especially if you get between them.

This article will explain the difference between the both types of bears:


  Posted by: old_user on Dec-13-10 8:35 AM (EST)
I thought there was a clear difference between the Alaskan Brown Bear and the Grizzly. I mean in temper. Are you saying they are similar?
  Make your camp less desirable
  Posted by: vcmtthws on Dec-18-10 10:32 PM (EST)

We’ve had that problem here in the Southern California mountains. Every few years some Boy Scout or camper gets grabbed through the tent (that’s why we sleep outside on the ground...No tent to irritate the bears). Almost always a candy bar, trash, food, or perfume/deodorant was involved at some level. Bears can out-smell a bloodhound. Try covering yourselves in wood smoke prior to bedtime. Don’t wash up with good smells in the evenings. For years we camped right across the trail from a lady bear. We did these things, and every night the bear crossed through our site and raided some other camper. Make you camp off the game trail. And properly store your food (Check out
I don’t visit posts much so if you want to discuss this more, please email me. In the meantime, keep your seats dry and your paddles wet…And your bears neighborly.

  after eating a distance from tent area,
  Posted by: bigspencer on Mar-15-11 7:58 PM (EST)
and after having coffee...etc, have your toothbrush, paste, mouthwash handy...and brush soon after. It'll reduce the scent trail that leads back to the tent.
  Yep, I saw that show 5 years ago...
  Posted by: CoffeeII on Mar-16-11 3:51 PM (EST)
It was on When Animals Attack or the like... Haven't heard of anything like it, but maybe afew times.

Be clean, be smart & relax. Have fun!

Paddle easy,

  That incident with the scout
  Posted by: beaverjack on Apr-04-11 3:37 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Apr-04-11 3:38 PM EST --

happened in 2010, in New Mexico, not 5 years ago.

  No, this was definitely 5 years ago...
  Posted by: CoffeeII on Apr-05-11 1:38 PM (EST)
Or more? I watched it at the office when I was doing government contracts... That was 3 years ago & I know it was more than 3 years ago that I saw it.

Paddle easy,

  bear death stats since 1870's
  Posted by: paddletothesea on Apr-04-11 6:19 PM (EST)
Here is a good bit of stats covering black, grizz and polar bear deaths in N. America since the 1870s'---showing where, who and when they died...scroll to the bottom of this for the maps etc.
If you add up all the death.....sine 1870 it amounts to the number of car wrecks that will happen in the US during the next i wouldnt worry about it.
Keep a clean camp, clean head, play it smart and dont intrude on bear territory especially in the presence of cubs.
  Death Stats? Really?
  Posted by: beaverjack on Apr-15-11 8:26 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Apr-15-11 8:42 PM EST --

A lot of attacks (particularly black bear attacks) do not end in death, just maiming. Therefore, stats about deaths since 1870 are irrelevant. Of the several bear attacks in 2010, the only fatalities were in Montana with a griz. That doesn't comfort me much, at least not to a point where I will submit to such an attack simply to be politically correct. Here's the 2010 scout attack I was referring to:



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