Where to Put Bear Canister at Night
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Jun 10, 2015 at 2:34 pm #2206081Hikin’ JimBPL Member
@hikin_jimLocale: Orange County, CA, USA
>"once they've got your food, you're just not going to drive them off."
Well, then I stand corrected. :)
Sierra bears have the reputation for being pretty blasé about thrown rocks, but it's worth a try. Nothing to lose certainly.
Black bears only
Um, yeah. lol.Jun 10, 2015 at 2:42 pm #2206083Hikin’ JimBPL Member
@hikin_jimLocale: Orange County, CA, USA
I have had Yosemite bears come through my camp and not touch the Bearikade – apparently they know what it is and they know not to wast any time on it.
Yeah, and I've heard similar stories on other forums, which is why I was surprised to hear Lori's report that it's important to drive them off.
Lori is right though that bears are pretty stinking smart, so maybe it is good advice not to let them play with the danged things.Jun 10, 2015 at 7:31 pm #2206173James NaphasBPL Member
I'm in the 50-100 foot camp, though that's dependent to some degree on terrain. There are places to camp in the sierras where you have a spot of level-ish ground surrounded either by steep rises, drop offs, water, or all three where 50 feet won't really work.
I've definitely had a bear come through my camp, though it didn't wake me up, and I've also seen bears out on the trail a couple of times in the Sierras.
I can also attest to the fact that putting a canister in a bag is a bad idea. A former boy scout in the troop I used to be associated with decided to hang a garcia in a bag from a tree. The bear was able to pop the lid. It looked like it used a claw tip on the "button" you use to open the lid, only it managed to break that little tab off and then tear the lid off. FWIW, I never realized how integral that thing was to securing the lid. With it gone I could almost pry the top off with my fingertips.Jun 10, 2015 at 8:21 pm #2206193jscottBPL Member
@bookLocale: Northern California
I'm convinced that Sierra bears know about bear canisters and just move on when they see one, looking for someone who's made a mistake with their food (left it out or gettable.)I did have one bear in Lyell Canyon, who was famous for being aggressive, just tip over my bearikade, probably to see if the lid would fall off (I'm guessing s/he'd found bear canisters that were left unlatched before.) Or s/he might just have wanted me to know s/he'd been there…
I know that bears must have roamed through my camp many nights. They always leave my canister alone. bears are smart and don't want to waste their time.
Back when I used to hang my food I saw many times the ingenuity of bears when it comes to getting food. They think things through.Jun 11, 2015 at 9:15 am #2206302Bruce WarrenBPL Member
I have another suggestion. I use static-shielding zip bags that block all smells so you can set the canister near you with no danger. They are sold at Uline.com for packaging circuit boards. The plastic is coated with a thin layer of metal so no smells get thru. They look reflective silvery, not the pink ones. I have tested them with the local racoons on my porch. I set out a normal ziplok bag with catfood inside and a static-shielding bag with cat food inside. The rip open the normal bag and ignore the static-shielding bag. One time there was a muddy fooprint on the static bag but it was still sealed.
You can use several small anti-static bags inside your bear canister or one big one that you put the entire canister inside. You do have to be careful and not smear food smells on the outside of the bags. And you have to change out the bags frequently because you will scratch and scrape them which will let smells seep out. Another benefit is that oxygen and moisture do not leak thru. I have had Oreos last 9 months inside one of those bags and still be crunchy.Jun 11, 2015 at 10:07 am #2206320John S.BPL Member
Those shield bags are food grade? I sorta doubt they are for food being in touch with the material but maybe you know for sure.Jun 11, 2015 at 2:13 pm #2206399BeanBPL Member
change out the bags frequently because you will scratch and scrape them which will let smells seep out
I'd think even metallic bags the contents eventually permeates out, wouldn't it? Even keeping it scratch and scrape free, you'd still need to swap out frequently for new ones, right?
so you can set the canister near you with no danger
For me it isn't danger, but more assuming there is some intelligence behind the guideline of 100 ft. Maybe it helps train bears not to associate obtainable food with people and so helps cut down on bear and people interaction, which ultimately saves bear lives. So, I try to observe it, at least when it isn't a total pain in the ass.Jun 11, 2015 at 7:43 pm #2206523JohnBPL Member
@johnnyh88Locale: The SouthWest
What about going for a day hike? Do you leave the canister in camp or pack it with you? I guess another option would be to pack all your food/smellies for the day hike, and leave the empty bear can at camp.
In other areas, I would normally just hang my food for the day.Jun 12, 2015 at 9:09 am #2206665
Perhaps I should mention a little bit about my background since I'm new, and since my experience may bias my approach in ways that make it not entirely relevant to most readers. Most of my backcountry time in bear country has been in Alaska (about 30 years) and I currently live off the road system on the Alaska Peninsula with more brown bears than people (outside of commercial salmon season, anyway) and with no black bears. I am working part of this summer and fall as a ranger in Katmai NP.
So as you can tell I'm used to the more naive "country bears" and not the "street-smart" bears of more traveled areas. And while I have often dealt with black bears while living in other parts of the state, they are not an issue here. I've also never had to worry about humans rifling through my bear bear barrel but am now forewarned next time I travel outside!
While it may not be much of a threat to have black bears messing with a bear barrel near camp I think it is always, always, always a bad idea to have bears touching any gear, no matter how photogenic the moment may be. Even if the probability is low that the bear is an immediate danger to you, as with black bears (though even then it is only a probability), any time a bear gets to mess with your stuff it is an interesting new thing to her, and she will be all the more inclined to seek out human campsites in the future. Running bears off after watching or photographing for a while will almost certainly do zero to discourage them in the future. Shooting them in the butt with a rubber shotgun slug or pepper spraying them in the face *might*, but surely setting them up for that kind of thing is unethical. I really don't like to sound preachy or judgmental, esp. being new to the forum, but any kind of exposure to gear in any way that lets bears touch it, bite it, etc. only contributes to their delinquency, which makes it much more likely that the bear will eventually have to be shot. It also contributes to the possibility of a human being hurt, esp. in brown bear country.
The only reason a place like Brooks Camp in Katmai can exist is because of rigidly disallowing any contact between bears and gear that humans can carry, and not just human food.
For those and other reasons, I think that tent site location is by far the most important thing with bears. The biggest problems that can happen involve the tent of course, and visually the tent drawing them is the most likely thing to bring them to the barrel. So my approach is to scout the area I want to pitch within, locating all bear trails and routes of passage, and then hide my tent from view of those trails. The ideal site is one that is hidden from the usual travel routes for bears but does not allow a bear to come on it suddenly if they do go off route for whatever reason. This is basically what they teach rangers at Katmai, with the provision that if you are going to be in camp for only a night or two it's important to think about wind direction between your setup and the routes of bear travel. Longer than that and the wind direction will change enough that it won't matter.
I know some old hands here who, when they are able to get a good current running through a of the heavy-duty bear fence (not the backpacking models), will keep bear barrels in the perimeter of the fence, though they don't cook inside the fence. If I'm backpacking I just stash the barrel out of sight in some alders or willows 50 to 100 feet from my tent. Other than the general location of your site for overnighters there's not much to be done about scent with bears, so the main thing is that they don't see the barrel. "Scout their routes then hide everything."Jun 12, 2015 at 9:30 am #2206677Dale WambaughBPL Member
@dwambaughLocale: Pacific Northwest
All of this drivel is why I want an electric bear can!
Bears repelled: check
Small critters repelled: check
Two legged snakes repelled: check!Jun 12, 2015 at 9:35 am #2206681
Excellent idea, but an electric tent would be more awesome still.Jun 12, 2015 at 9:52 am #2206688Dave AyersBPL Member
@djayersLocale: SF Bay Area
I'm with David and Lori. I put the can in sight within decent throwing distance, perhaps 20 meters. I put the can on a rock slab with my cook pot on top. I keep a few throwing stones near my sleep spot. Bear (Marmot, etc.) gets nosy and knocks off the pot which makes a racket hitting the slab. I wake and utilize my throwing skills in concert with yells and flashlight. Bear learns to stay away from human food. Also works if you have overflow items in a sack or use an Ursack. May not work if you have a lousy throwing arm.Jun 12, 2015 at 10:02 am #2206693
Comment deleted by author after he realized he was being a jerk.Jun 12, 2015 at 10:25 am #2206713
I have chased off black bears, but only in situations where there was no other option, and it's not something I would ever want to include as a built-in part of a plan. In other words, I would never set up camp with that as a working part of my system. For one, the plan basically counts on a bear having time to mess with the canister or whatever before something is done, and that is plenty of time to put human stuff on the bear's list of cool things to look for in the future, whatever happens next.
And while black bears may go with the plan and run off when something is thrown at them, I would ever count on that as anything other than a way out of a completely unavoidable situation. Some won't be intimidated. Counting on the general timidity of black bears has a long and uninspiring history in human/bear interactions.
Even with the highly habituated brown bears of Brooks Camp, only the Bear Management Team (and not rangers) are allowed to chase them off, and even then they never chase off boars. Any camp system that counts on throwing stuff at any brown bear, let alone a sow with cubs or a boar, is for all practical purposes suicidal.
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