Apr 26, 2012 at 12:40 am #1289188
I have become paranoid after reading the bear related posts on this site. In one post someone wrote that bear is capable of smelling your breath after brushing teeth with toothpaste. Are you serious? It is impossible to absolutely get rid of smells from clothes (detergent smell etc.), body smells, breath scent and things like that. In my opinion its reasonable to avoid cooking in bear country and sleeping in food scented clothes (with bear bag hung outside). Is it wise to use pee bottle or urinate near the tent? In june I am going to camp in an area which borders bear habitat and I dont posses a bear spray so I am pretty defenseless.
I cant find scentless detergent so Is it ok to air clothes for a couple of days before departure?
General rule is to remove the clothes you were cooking in, do you wash that clothes or wear it again on next occasion?Apr 26, 2012 at 12:49 am #1871371
I am using 3/4 pad so I should use a backpack for the missing quarter. Many people advise to hang the backpack outside, so what to put under the feet?
I apologize for so many questions :)Apr 26, 2012 at 12:57 am #1871372
First, you might want to sort out what kind of bears you will be near. Some are dangerous and some are not. As an example, polar bears are extremely dangerous, and if you are alive you represent a meal to the bear. Other bears can be scared off with the sound of banging metal cook pots.
Most bears have a very good sense of smell. They will find your food almost anywhere. However, ordinary bears like the black bears we have in California spend more energy looking for the real food, and they don't really want to tangle with humans unless they are forced to. Yes, they can smell things like urine and detergent, but they really seek food.
Backpackers who are going into a dangerous bear habitat often carry bear spray or a firearm, depending on local rules. Backpackers who are going into a non-dangerous bear habitat often carry their food in a bear canister or hang it high in a tree, again depending on local rules.
On one day in July 2010, I had 29 Alaskan Coastal Brown Bears in front of me (within 150 yards of me from left to right). They didn't care about a human because they were busy catching fish.
–B.G.–Apr 26, 2012 at 1:01 am #1871373
"I am using 3/4 pad so I should use a backpack for the missing quarter. Many people advise to hang the backpack outside, so what to put under the feet?"
How about nothing? Don't worry about it.
If you are desperate, find an extra piece of anything to use for padding.
Sometimes I wrap up my boots with my rain jacket and use that for a pillow.
–B.G.–Apr 26, 2012 at 1:29 am #1871376
@justin_bakerLocale: Santa Rosa, CA
Mika, where exactly are you going? Based on your name, you don't sound like you are from the U.S.
It all depends on the type of bear you are talking about and how dense their population is.Apr 26, 2012 at 1:41 am #1871377
I am hiking in Eastern Europe, in areas populated by 50-60 brown bears. There was only one bear related death in that part of Europe but generally in Serbia people do not hike!Apr 26, 2012 at 3:42 am #1871386
@jamesdmarcoLocale: Finger Lakes
Bears are wild animals. They want *food*. In most cases, avoid feeding them parts of yourself.
Yes, sometimes, as Bob mentioned, they are focused on a better food supply than what you represent. Most of the time, this is the case. Your food is what they are after. Bear bagging (hanging in a tree that they cannot climb or reach) is pretty safe. They don't care too much for people, generally. Encroaching on their teritority is not good. They will attack. Don't go near a cub. Getting out of cooking cloths and hanging them makes sense in Grizzly country. I have had a few black bears through camp checking out stuff. Indeed, my old shoes were chewed one night. I must have spilled something on one of them. Yes, their smell is reportedly 7 times stronger than a dogs. They *can* tell if it is real food or just the smell of food. They can *smell* how much and pretty well locate it in total darkness. They can tell if it is alive, like you, or, dead…like your food.
Usually, a little care, and a few precautions are all that is needed. Use your smarts. The bear thinks about food and mating 90% of his time. Study up on his habits in your area. Outsmart him.
As far as 3/4 length pads go, I often kick up a pile of forest duff to lay my pad on, so I just ignore it. In cold weather, I put my pack under my feet and legs.Apr 26, 2012 at 4:39 am #1871396
Bears have an incredible sense of smell. Something like 5-7 X better than a bloodhound.
And a bloodhound can smell where you walked 12 hrs ago.
Think about it. Bears can smell dead carrion MILES away. They use their nose to find a mate many MILES away.
We are generally safe from bears because they dont want anything to do with us, not because they dont smell us, or our food.
Their life is devoted to finding food,almost non-stop. If they discover that a human can be a food source, its trouble, whether eating hikers food, or hikers themselves.Apr 26, 2012 at 7:14 am #1871434
@richardglyonLocale: Bridger Mountains
Bear attacks on campers or hikers are rare in the western US, and most of them involve some real stupidity on the part of the victim. A highly publicized attack on two hikers in Yellowstone Park last summer is a good illustration. Seems the couple spotted a sow and cub, both of which moved over a ridge when they spotted the humans. Then the victim pursued the bears over the ridge in order to get a better photograph. Backed into a corner, the sow charged. The Park Service identified the bear and did not euthanize it, recognizing that it was simply acting like a bear.
Keep your food and toiletries out of your tent. Hanging is best, if you can't do that place it some distance away, downwind if possible. Respect the bear as a predator if you come across one. You'll be safe.Apr 26, 2012 at 8:31 am #1871456
If you act like prey it will treat you like prey, don't run.Apr 26, 2012 at 8:55 am #1871464
@brooklynkayakLocale: Atlantic North East
Agreed, If you act like prey it will treat you like prey, don't run.
The person that was killed in Yellowstone last year tried to outrun the bear. His partner who survived, did not run.Apr 26, 2012 at 9:42 am #1871487
I would not worry too much. The bears you will be around tend to be less aggresive then bears in America and East Siberia. America averages about 2 people a year killed by bears plus a few more injuries (actually not that bad, we have thousands of bears and lots of hikers). Scandiavia (with the largest European bear population) has had three deaths in the last CENTURY. Your more likely to be killed by a stray dog than a bear!
If you are really worried eat dinner and hang your food about 100 yards from where you will be sleeping. That way the smell is a long way from where you are. There are a number of articles online and here about hanging food where bears can't get it. Its actually a really good idea anyway. Often rodents will get into your food and they might chew a how in your pack to get too it!
Remember 3 deaths in all of Scandiavia in 100 years. You'll be out in Serbia for a few nights with a much smaller number of bears. Its really not something to worry about.Apr 26, 2012 at 10:04 am #1871497
"America averages about 2 people a year killed by bears plus a few more injuries (actually not that bad, we have thousands of bears and lots of hikers)."
Hey Luke – do you have a link to these statistics? I was under the impression that it was much less than that. Thanks,Apr 26, 2012 at 10:37 am #1871516
I got them off Wikenpedia when I was googling around for European bear attacks David. Apparently there were 162 deaths in the US (I guess they left out Canada) between 1900 and 1985 which averaged out to about 2 a year. According to Steven Herrero the average was about three a year in the US and Canada during the 1990s.
Edit – Backpacker ran the "3 a year average" I'm guessing they just queted Herroro without saying so. Interestingly according to Discovery News 92 % of fatal black bear attacks are by lone males not mothers protecting their cubs.Apr 26, 2012 at 12:14 pm #1871554
Yikes. I hike in bear country and rarely see even bear scat. But of course, I do carry bear spray.
To the OP, here is a neat video on Bart the Bear:Apr 26, 2012 at 4:53 pm #1871664
@skopeoLocale: British Columbia
The bear attack statistics are for bear attacks in general not just for backpackers.
Injuries from bear attacks include people working in the woods (loggers, miners etc.) and other sports like fishing, hunting, Mountain biking and trail running.
I think the fast moving sports like running and riding are worse than hiking because you are more likely to trigger the chase instinct before the bear figures out what you are.
So carry bear spray and try not to look like a meal :)
As far as changing your clothes after cooking, that's great if you carry a spare set of clothes but that's propbably a heavy luxury for most people on this site. I'd rather carry the weight of the bear spray than extra clothes.Apr 26, 2012 at 5:12 pm #1871673
@ouzelLocale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
"As far as changing your clothes after cooking, that's great if you carry a spare set of clothes but that's propbably a heavy luxury for most people on this site. I'd rather carry the weight of the bear spray than extra clothes."
That is a great argument for going cold food and only heating water for drinks. Saves the weight of the extra clothes and also reduces your fuel weight.Apr 26, 2012 at 8:20 pm #1871740
The 162 deaths were for all bears. Only 63 (less than 1 a year) people in North America (www.bear.org) were killed by black bears since 1900. Of that 63 all but 23 were by bears in captivity.Apr 27, 2012 at 3:38 am #1871787
@brooklynkayakLocale: Atlantic North East
Compare the bear statistics with lightning, falls, hypothermia, … and you see that bears are virtually no threat.Apr 27, 2012 at 11:26 pm #1872077
@kalebcLocale: South West
I have been face to face with about 8 black and 15 brown bears. The blacks are a joke, you can intimidate them by holding your pack over your head and making noise most the time. Brown bears are not interested in humans. The only chance an attack is likely is when you surprise them up close, especially a mother with sow. Bears are not out to get you, unless they are starving in a place like KatmaiApr 27, 2012 at 11:53 pm #1872079
"Bears are not out to get you, unless they are starving in a place like Katmai"
The best-fed bears that I ever saw were in Katmai, and three of them just ran by me on the trail like playful puppies.
–B.G.–Apr 28, 2012 at 12:13 am #1872083
@jtdmventerprises-netLocale: Los Angeles
That puts my concern to rest forever in black bear territory! You are much more likely to be struck by lightning than killed by a bear!Apr 28, 2012 at 7:37 am #1872136
@kalebcLocale: South West
I was referring to Timothy Treadwell and his girlfriend, doubt they used the 100yd triangle rule.Apr 28, 2012 at 8:38 am #1872155
Treadwell and his girl friend definately did not use the 100 yard triangle rule. That guy did almost everything wrong but got away with it for 13 seasons. I am not saying thats a good idea but if he got away with it that long people who take reasonable care shouldn't have too much too worry about.
According to the author of "Death in the Grizzly Maze" Treadwell may not have been killed by the straving old male that rangers shot over the body. His theory is that Treadwell was killed by a young subadult (the second bear shot by rangers). What he believes is that Treadwell finally pushed that young bear too far and it took him out in a defensive attack (not a predatory attack). After that the older male may have moved in and claimed the bodies.
Either way Treadwell and his girlfriend would probalby be alive today if they hadn't done so many dumb things.Apr 28, 2012 at 10:30 am #1872181
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
> They *can* tell if it is real food or just the smell of food.
My dog does this, too. Based on the "signal strength" of the smell, you'd think a crumb up close would smell like a whole cookie at distance, but scenting animals can tell. It has to do the ratio of fast-diffusing to slow-diffusing odor molecules. I find it to be so subtle as to be subconscious, but with experience, I can tell the size of a dead animal at distance pretty accurately. And human noses and brains (and my food gathering habits) are lousy in comparison.
Can you *see* a shiny penny far down the sidewalk? Yes. Would you divert to go get it? No. But if you saw something that even hinted at being a big bundle of currency, you'd put some energy into checking it out.
We see. They smell. They smell well enough to tell residual odors from an actual large amount of something tasty.
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