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Nov 3, 2015 at 11:00 pm #2235972
>>> Here's a quote from your post. >>> 80 reputable attacks (limited to Alaska and Canada) from 1915-2001 >>> 2015-1915 = 100 years. And that wasn't me, Buck, that was McNay. Did you catch the part where I mentioned that McNay's study popped up because it was published in 2002? Well, 2002 turns out to be after 2000. And it's still not cherry-picking. How in the hell is that cherry picking?!? So I suspect that you don't quite understand what cherry-picking is. iT is quoting a misleading subset of data to support a position. That's what you did, when you tried to limit your quotation of zero wolf fatalities to 'backpackers.' That is misleading. If I try to list all non-captive wolf fatalities I am doing the *opposite* of cherry-picking: I am trying to give as full and accurate an answer as I can. And FWIW I made no serious attempt to list them all- just enough to show that wolves are capable of human predation, which seems pretty clear, and which you have not denied. And I have agreed that they are rare enough in North America not to require worry except in some very limited places, not unlike cougars or sharks. Bears are a much more reasonable worry anywhere there are wolves. But clearly our discussion is getting confrontational. And that's probably largely my fault, even if I can blame a lot of it on the usual internet communication pitfalls. So if you have felt offended, my sincere apologies. No such was intended- I was merely trying to voice a contrary opinion and to back that up with data.Nov 4, 2015 at 7:09 am #2235995Buck NelsonBPL Member
Dean, I looked at your 80 wolf attacks dating back to 1915. There are instances such as wolves growling at people, including a wolf that growled at someone when they approached it with a raised stick, at least two cases of torn sleeves and no injury, a case that resulted in a bruise, an incident that resulted in a superficial abrasion; along with some real attacks. It seems "disingenuous" to refer to them all as "attacks" rather than than "encounters", which is what the quoted paper called them. If all those 80 instances qualify as an attack, I have been attacked twice by animals in the last two days, once by an Angus that was doing it's best to stomp me, once by a raccoon that was snarling at my face from about 18 inches away. And by those standards, I have been attacked by animals hundreds of times: growled at, scratched, bitten and charged. A person can't get a realistic idea of the safety of air travel by only listing crashes, just as a person can't get a realistic idea of the danger of wolves by just citing attacks over a hundred years without acknowledging the billions of person-days spent in wolf country where no wolf-related injury has occurred. As I've said wolves are POTENTIALLY dangerous (which you changed to dangerous when you referred to my quote.) Here's a list of fatal wolf attacks in North America. Most wolf experts agree that there have been two well-documented fatal attacks by healthy, wild wolves in North American history. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_wolf_attacks_in_North_America.Nov 4, 2015 at 1:25 pm #2236057Bob ShaverBPL Member
I have been attacked by deer, never by wolves. I saw some wild wolves in the north cascades while doing the Ptarmigan Traverse. They were impressive. Once I was tent camping near Stanley Idaho. Four of us were in a big tent watching a movie on a portable DVD player, the Harrie Potter movie which featured a werewolf. Outside the tent, within 100 yards, a pack of wolves were howling like crazy. There had to be 10 of them. It was kind of special. Another time I was alone at a hot springs in the winter, miles from the road, and I started hearing wolves howling nearby. I kind of wished I had something bigger than a Swiss army knife, but I never saw a wolf. I don't worry about wolf attacks in the backcountry. The deer attacked me by jumping straight up in the air, and coming down with all four feet on my sleeping bag. Luckily I wasn't in my sleeping bag.Nov 4, 2015 at 2:01 pm #2236065
Canada Pepper spray is both required and illegal. "Until Sept. 15, it will be mandatory for hikers to travel in groups of at least four. At least one of the individuals will be required to carry bear spray." http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2011/07/28/banff-national-park-bears-spray-groups-required_n_912597.html “If we find you with it and you’re hiking on the North Shore mountain trails that’s fine, but if you have it in a downtown nightclub then it’s illegal.” Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Vancouver+police+warn+criminal+charges+carrying+bear+spray+city/8048471/story.html#ixzz3qYguFx6X"Nov 4, 2015 at 2:47 pm #2236070Buck NelsonBPL Member
To clarify, the bear spray and group requirement is for part of one trail in Banff. Until Sept. 15, it will be mandatory for hikers to travel in groups of at least four. At least one of the individuals will be required to carry bear spray. "This is the first time we've required bear spray and it's only on this section of trail," Parks Canada spokesman Mark Merchant said Thursday.Nov 4, 2015 at 3:14 pm #2236076No Limu, just DougBPL Member
@sleepingLocale: The Cascades
Talk about spray. I'm more frightened of the handstand!Nov 4, 2015 at 10:52 pm #2236177Sharon J.BPL Member
@squarkLocale: SF Bay area
>Talk about spray. I'm more frightened of the handstand! I bet his ancestors inspired some tribal war-mask. So never mind pepper or mace, maybe I should carry a skunk with me into wolf territory.Nov 4, 2015 at 11:00 pm #2236179Ken ThompsonBPL Member
@hereLocale: Right there
Brings back memories. Not good ones.Nov 5, 2015 at 6:47 pm #2236309Nov 5, 2015 at 7:27 pm #2236316Greg MihalikSpectator
^^^ "Two grizzly attack this week in Montana not deterred by Spray" The headline is "Hunters report self-defense in two grizzly bear death" "The hunter said he first used bear spray to deter the attack then shot the bear in self defense." "The hunters said they first used bear spray on the charging bear but, as the bear continued to approach, they reportedly shot the bear in self defense." So – Two grizzly bears were sprayed and then shot. Was the spray ineffective? Because these guys were armed and willing, we will never know.Nov 5, 2015 at 7:37 pm #2236318David LorenzBPL Member
@nuclearwinterLocale: Northern Utah
Ok, so I need some help understanding this situation. It amazes me that in the 25 foot effective spray limit that apparently did not stop the bears…that both hunters under the attract were able to switch to there hunting weapons (assume bolt action rifles) and get a clean kill. I'm glad for their sake, but I have to think we are missing part of the story. Thoughts?? Am I'm off on this?? Also, when do bears generally hibernate? Is it purely weather dependent??Nov 5, 2015 at 7:56 pm #2236320Scott SMember
@sschloss1Locale: New England
Just ignore the scaremongering from David. Scientific reviews of hundreds of bear incidents have shown that bear spray is at least as effective as guns in preventing bear attacks. And I'd wager that a hefty percentage of so-called attacks in which the bear was shot were not really attacks but were just trigger-happy cowards who saw a bear and shot it when it didn't pose a threat. Gun paper showing ~80% rate of "success":http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jwmg.342/abstract Bear spray paper showing 90+% success: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.2193/2006-452/abstract Dumb news stories and the people that post them love to stoke irrational fires. Stick to the scientific evidence instead.Nov 5, 2015 at 8:23 pm #2236322AnonymousInactive
"Two grizzly bears were sprayed and then shot. Was the spray ineffective? Because these guys were armed and willing, we will never know." That sounds really suspicious to me. What is the effective range of spray, 50 feet or so? To spray a charging grizzly within effective range of spray and then still have time to get off a killing shot when it didn't work? Uh, I have to wonder about that. Maybe someone can explain that to me?Nov 5, 2015 at 8:24 pm #2236323AnonymousInactive
"but I have to think we are missing part of the story. Thoughts?? Am I'm off on this??" +1 Sorry I missed your post and posted the same thought.Nov 5, 2015 at 9:21 pm #2236331
Scott, all of the scientific studies that I've seen (including these) have major methodological flaws. (1) The sample is "bear spray incidents". There is no control. We have no way to know what the outcome of a "bear spray incident" would have been if no spray were available. It may be that only 10% of such close encounters would have led to injury in any case, and that bear spray does nothing at all. So the conclusion of "90% success" is unfounded and misleading. (2) Risk homeostasis. Even if it's shown that bear spray does sometimes deter a bear when it's 25 feet away, that's not sufficient. It may be that bear spray has only a limited effect, or that it is inferior to other strategies such as hiking only in large groups. If that's the case, the recommendation for bear spray use may lead people into a false sense of security, poor strategy and riskier behavior. They may feel safer with bear spray strapped to their waist, and therefore act in a way that makes a bear encounter more likely. It may increase their overall chance of injury. So, paradoxically, even if it's moderately effective, it might be that a policy of banning bear spray use could make people safer. It's not a simple problem to study rigorously.Nov 5, 2015 at 10:23 pm #2236345Scott SMember
@sschloss1Locale: New England
Oy, Ralph, that's some slick sounding BS there. How do you do a controlled study in this circumstance? You can't have people approach bears and see what happens. For many types of science, observational studies are all that's possible. But if you gather a large enough sample and analyze it correctly, you can draw some conclusions. The bottom line is that most people who deploy their bear spray come out okay. And we already know that the people who are attacked by bears are a vanishingly small percentage of the people who hike or camp in bear country. So there's nothing misleading about 90% success. Got any better data? Or do you want to volunteer for the "controlled" study? This is the real world, not a drug trial. Also, got any evidence for that inane "risk homeostasis" argument? You act as if hiking alone in bear country has a 40% death rate or something. I suspect that it's actually far, far below 0.01%. So, even if bear spray causes people to hike alone, not hang their food, sleep where they cook, and camp in areas of high bear density ,their risk of being attacked is STILL incredibly low, so low that it would be all but impossible to test your silly hypothesis without a huge sample size of trips. Most people I know who carry bear spray in grizzly country follow all the other rules about campsite selection, etc. It's way more likely that bear spray usage is part of a multi-pronged strategy that people use, not something that causes people to increase their risk in compensating ways. Risk homeostasis–what a joke.Nov 5, 2015 at 11:09 pm #2236352
"Got any better data? Or do you want to volunteer for the "controlled" study? This is the real world, not a drug trial." I'm not sure what point you think this makes. You agree that it's extremely difficult to design a controlled study of bear attacks. That doesn't strengthen the conclusions from the limited data that we do have. It just means we don't have much certainty. I wasn't expressing a strong opinion that bear spray does not work — we just don't really know. "Risk homeostasis–what a joke." If you are interested in learning about real counterintuitive effects that can occur in comparable scenarios, do some research on bicycle helmet legislation and "risk compensation" (another name for risk homeostasis). After all, it's "obvious" that bicycle helmets reduce head injuries for cyclists, right? But in any event, if you're going to continue to respond to a post made in good faith by throwing around insults, I'm not going to respond further. Shouting louder does not strengthen your argument.Nov 5, 2015 at 11:31 pm #2236355
interesting who's going to volunteer to be in the control group – no bear spray or gun, find grizzlies to walk up to… okay, now let's talk politics : )Nov 6, 2015 at 1:52 am #2236364
I do love it when people link something that I have already linked. "Potentially" dangerous is tergiversation. Bears, Taliban, and sarin could all be described as "potentially" dangerous. But, OK, Buck, lets just look from 2010: 2010 the fatal attack in Chignik, Alaska that I already mentioned 2011 the bowhunting grandma, who shot the wolf with her handgun, that I already mentioned. Uninjured. 2011 a Michigan conservation officer cornered and treed by a pack (admittedly he stumbled upon a kill that they defended). Uninjured. 2012 a man on a snowmobile who had his sleeve torn off, Tok, Alaska. Uninjured, other than his wardrobe. 2013 a bicyclist on the ALCAN chased and snapped at, used spray. Uninjured. 2013 that teenager dragged from his tent by his head, Minnesota. 2013 a man knocked off his bike by a wolf, which ran off when a car approached, Quebec. Only scuffs and bruises. 2013 a woman in Manitoba bitten on the neck while aiding another motorist. 2015 a Wisconsin deer hunter, wolf snarling and approached so close he kicked it in the face, then shot it. Uninjured. 2015 a large snowmobile group was chased and snapped at, eventually outpaced the wolf, Labrador. No injuries. So there's ten in six years (and yes I'm including clearly aggressive behavior that didn't result in injury because the humans fled effectively or defended themselves) including one fatality, found on a *very* cursory google search. Yes, still small potatoes compared to bear attacks in the same period, and I might validly be accused of cherry-picking in THIS case, but that's not my point. My point is that wolves will predate humans, at least in some situations. (And I only tergiversate there because most will hopefully be fearful of humans.) Just like bears. And just like bears people tend to over-dramatize the issue. Wolves are, however, much more rare than bears. The more extremist pro-wolf faction like to ignore otherwise credible reports of wolf attacks. (Mind you, I do sympathize with them and understand why they would want to dismiss attacks so as not to give the asinine rancher lobby any figurative ammunition.) They particularly try not to include listing attacks when wounds are not severe, including as just one example David Mech dismissing an attack on a 16-year-old girl in Algonquin who only suffered scratches due to the thick clothing she was wearing. I imagine that SHE considers herself to have been attacked, as well as damned lucky that her parents frightened the wolf off. These researchers also intensely wanted to be able to claim that no wolf had ever killed a human, so they tended to argue "you cannot say for certain this wasn't a bear," and not count such attacks. As I've said- if it didn't meet forensic standards to be proven as a wolf attack then they claimed that it was a bear no matter what other evidence there might be. Even when only wolf tracks were found and no bear tracks they claimed that the wolves only scavenged a carcass left by a bear. A couple even tried like hell to claim that the 2005 fatality was a bear before any of them saw the site or any evidence. That really makes me doubt their intellectual honesty. So now, considering that we've had two fatal attacks in ten years, trying to convince me that no human has been killed by a wolf in North America until 2005 insults my intelligence. These researchers also simply ignored credible historical accounts of fatalities that any reasonable person would have given some credence, for instance, just to pick two that are especially convincing: John Aububon- generally considered a keen observer- reported two men with axes attacked in Kentucky in 1830. The men killed three wolves before one was taken down and eaten. This was witnessed by the other man, who climbed a tree. Appropriate wolf and human remains were found at the claimed site. A newspaper article from Dakota Territory; “NEW ROCKFORD, DAK, March 7 – The news has just reached here that a father and son, living several miles northeast of this city, were destroyed by wolves yesterday. The two unfortunate men started to a haystack some ten rods from the house to shovel a path around the stack when they were surrounded by wolves and literally eaten alive. The horror-stricken mother was standing at the window with a babe in her arms, a spectator to the terrible death of her husband and son, but was unable to aid them. After they had devoured every flesh from the bones of the men, the denizens of the forest attacked the house, but retired to the hills in a short time. Investigation found nothing but the bones of the husband and son. The family name was Olson. Wolves are more numerous and dangerous now than ever before known in North Dakota." (Saint Paul Daily Globe, March 8, 1888) So those are two *witnessed* fatal attacks that were dismissed, supposedly for lack of evidence. Don't be complacent around wolves! You're not silly if you think they are dangerous- because they are. They are not cuddly pseudo-dogs. That's all I'm saying. I probably could have said that thus succinctly at the beginning, but now I'm growing one eyebrow over this debate. :) I can't state it any better, though, so I'll let Buck get last licks in and bow out, now.Nov 6, 2015 at 3:04 am #2236368
Be careful slinging mud like "trigger-happy coward," there, Scott. Such things tend to say more about you than about your subject. And between Ralph's considered critique and your puerile ad hominem response I certainly know who I'm more inclined to take at face value. This must be my day to be contrarian… You (and others) may not have closely read that article about the two grizzly/hunter incidents. It does not say that the bears were "charging", sprayed, and then shot as they "continued to charge." The article just says that the bears were sprayed but continued to "approach", which puts shooting them after spraying them rather more within the realm of plausibility. (I for one would keep my rifle ready in the other hand while spraying!) In most videos I've seen of bear sprayings the bear wasn't "charging"- it just got too close. In fact they usually seem to be ambling along quite slowly. If there is another, better description of the incidents then I may stand corrected, but even then might chalk the use of the word "charge" up to hyperbole. In addition, the described scenarios (stumbling upon a bear at a fresh kill and upon a sow with cubs) are believable and are proven factors that will lead to aggressive behavior. Might those hunters have been trigger-happy idiots? Yes, of course. Just like there are keyboard-happy idiots (myself included) there are trigger-happy idiots out there. But though the anti-hunting crowd like to promulgate this image of drunken morons out shooting everything that moves, in my experience that's rare. I am nigh certain that these guys knew that shooting a grizzly would incite an investigation, as indeed it did, so if they just decided to shoot a bear for the heck of it then they were knowingly lining themselves up for a lot of heartache. Can you speculate that the approaching bear was not being aggressive, but rather just curious? Yes, I think that you could reasonably speculate so. On the other hand I would certainly spray any bear that was approaching within spraying distance, wouldn't you? In fact, it seems like the responsible thing to do, so that it learns to fear humans. And if that negative reinforcement failed I for one might presume more than mere curiosity, because I would expect a spraying to deter curiosity. At the very least I wouldn't let one get close enough to get a taste, per se, before spraying. And if I ever had to shoot one, I would be saddened. The great advantage of spray, for me, is that it is non-lethal. For what it's worth Ralph has mentioned some valid criticisms about the bear spray studies. They are far from air-tight, but they are absolutely *valid*. For instance, I find it hard to believe that Alaska only averages 4 bear sprayings a year, and thus suspect a strong reporting bias. Do you have a source for the complete paper? I'd like to read it, and likewise for the firearm paper. Because FWIW from what little I can glean from the abstracts the spray study cannot be reliably compared to the firearms study. For the record I carry bear spray -and even that only rarely- and not a gun. Have I or would I carry a gun under some circumstances? Yes to both. Also, I haven't hunted since 1989. EDIT– hold on, I found full copies of the studies. Give me a moment to read- I may be editing this quite a bit. EDIT– Well, the authors were the same for both the firearm and the spray papers, and in both instances they are very upfront in stating that their data collection was very subjective- i.e. that a lot of it was anecdote. Since the firearm paper collected back to the 1880s whereas the spray paper only collected to the 1980s this is a potential source of very large selection/reporting bias. That said, the firearm study in particular clearly has value as all prior discussions of firearms efficacy vs bears were even worse. (For instance, the USFWS used to claim that 50% of people why try to protect themselves from a bear with a gun end up injured- a claim that seems dubious- and indeed the USFWS can't back it up with data.) Other than this presumed selection/reporting bias problem the studies seem well designed, and the authors tried to control for a lot of valid variables, even if they didn't break them out the way that we might like for purposes of this discussion. But at any rate the results are being massively misrepresented by the (for lack of a better term) pro-spray/anti-gun crowd. In the firearm/bear study 73% of their incidents involved people who for various reasons never even fired their gun! (There were no cases of not using the spray in the spray study.) However, 8% were people who couldn't disengage the safety in time, which probably makes them valid inclusions in "failures," so let's call it 65%. Another large group (27%) was "didn't have time to use the firearm," which I would need to compare to a similar datum for spray, but unfortunately as I mentioned no such incidents were included in the spray study and the issue was not discussed. In the spray study 13% of incidents did involve "ineffective" use of the spray- whatever that means, possibly user error- or were incidents of bears attracted to spray residue, but NONE in which the spray was not used. Apples and oranges- the data sets are not comparable. Really, this is an IMMENSE difference between the studies, because people keep comparing this "firearm failure rate" to the "spray failure rate" and it's utter baloney to do so! From reading the papers it is clear that the authors did not mean to compare guns and spray- there were enough differences in methods to make it obvious that such a comparison was not intended. They do conclude in the spray study that spray is an *effective alternative* to firearms. FWIW I seriously doubt that we will ever have a reliable denominator for either spray or firearms, which is what we really need to make this comparison, unless as has been proposed someone starts rigorously collecting prospective randomized data. :) As far as it being a discussion of factors that lead to attacks/injuries by bears both studies are fascinating reads, and I recommend them. All in all, not bad procedurally, and we are unlikely to get better data. As near as I can tell from my first read, the authors (in either paper) never quote an injury rate- just a "failure to stop aggressive behavior" rate. I would expect that if they meant injury they would have said "injury," as they do elsewhere. So, people quoting injury rates based upon these papers (as I have seen elsewhere) are making that up or are not actually reading the papers. It seems from their descriptions that "aggressive behavior" may have included merely continuing to raid garbage, camp food, or an animal carcass. They did differentiate between warning shots and intentionally shooting the bear, but only by their success at stopping the aggressive behavior- whatever that may have been- without breaking it out in great detail, so I don't know if garbage raiders got mostly warning shots or not. Logically one might assume that bears approaching a human might get intentionally shot at more often, but we don't know. OTOH, in the spray paper they do quote data that 18% of bears resumed aggressive behavior after being sprayed the first time, so I might argue for less than the proposed "90% success rate." Though they did study the number of shots fired in the firearm study they didn't break out a rate of continued aggressive behavior after the first shot. So again, we are unfortunately unable to compare. It's also interesting to note that in the firearm study the authors mention that in many of the interviews the people involved expressed a reluctance to shoot the bear (somewhat of a rebuttal of the "trigger-happy coward" stereotype) for various reasons including not wanting to shoot a protected species, fear of hitting the person being attacked, and not wanting to skin the bear and pack out the hide and skull as required by law. Also interesting is that there was another spray study (quoted by the authors in the spray study here) in which spraying a black bear INCITED a charge in 4.5% of cases. In the firearm study firing a gun incited a charge in only 1% of cases- but, again, were these warning shots or intentional shots? Hmm. Probably below the power of these studies to be definitive, but worth looking into if there is ever a rigorous comparison.Nov 6, 2015 at 7:59 am #2236391
The main reason that I think risk compensation may be a concern is the question of group size. That's something we do have reliable data on — and it's my understanding that Black & Grizzly attacks (perhaps not Polar Bears) on groups of 4 or more are almost unheard of. It would be interesting to see some post-incident interview data along the lines of – Were you aware that groups of 4 or more are almost never attacked? – If so, what factors influenced your decision to hike/hunt alone or in a smaller group? Bear attacks are so rare that even if this kind of risk compensation does occur, it would not generally be reasonable (let alone legal) to restrict activity to large groups by fiat. This issue might only be relevant for the highest risk areas at riskiest times of year. Still, for individual decision making – since risk compensation effects are a function of perceived risk vs actual risk – it may make things worse if we overestimate the effectiveness of bear spray without reliable data.Nov 6, 2015 at 8:57 am #2236410
more than 30,000 people in U.S. die each year from guns, according to wikipedia. 20,000 of those are suicide. risk of bear or wolf death is tiny in comparison. hard to argue that you lower risk by carrying gun. can't analyze statistically, for example most gun owners don't have exposure to wolves or bears, so if you go where bears and wolves are, maybe the risk would be more balanced risk of death or serious injury from bear spray must be much lowerNov 6, 2015 at 9:17 am #2236418
Note that 3 other grizzly were killed by cars last week in Montana too. Likely more information will come out, as it is a big deal to shoot a protected species. There will be investigations and we will eventually know more. I would imagine if one is surprised, one would use what is in your hand (if you are hunting, that would be the long gun), but if one has time to think, then best practices could be used. I am not seeing how one could switch quickly from spray to gun on a charging bear. Either they are lying, more than one hunter reacted, or the bears made repeated advances. Just bought some small pepper spray for jogging to protect my dog from the occasional roaming pit bulls and German Shepherds that want to chase off or destroy other smaller dogs. So far my dog has sustained bites only from a Shepherd, but has been humped madly by a pair of pit bulls with their fur up I couldn't get to leave. Put wolves in the same hazard category as an off leash unattended large dog or pack of dogs. Black bears and coyotes, the same. Grizzly and cougars get more of my attention.Nov 6, 2015 at 9:33 am #2236423
"one would use what is in your hand" if you want to use bear spray, you need to have it handy, like in a holster. Maybe practice drawing it. I could see a scenario for spray, then gun You spray the bear/wolf/cougar, it's temporarily effective and the animal backs off, then goes for you again, so you pull out gunNov 6, 2015 at 11:37 am #2236463David ChenaultBPL Member
@davecLocale: Queen City, MT
"What is the effective range of spray, 50 feet or so? To spray a charging grizzly within effective range of spray and then still have time to get off a killing shot when it didn't work?" Real world effective range of spray is 10 yards. Less with much wind. Given the limited description of the circumstances it seems unlikely spray was deployed in an optimal fashion. I also find it quite understandable why those involved went for their rifles. I probably would.
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