Aug 25, 2013 at 11:47 am #1306924
@rushfanLocale: Northern California
From Tom Stienstra's column in today's SF Chronicle:
'"Then, before the huge wildfire broke out near Groveland and the Highway 120 entrance to Yosemite (and closed the road), a ranger at the visitor center reported that a bear had broken into a dozen Garcia Bear Vault Canisters, the classic black ABS Polymer "bear can" that backpackers use, reported field scout Ben Toland from the scene.
"The bear was pushing them off drop-offs onto rocks," Toland said. "So far, only one bear seems to have this skill."'
Guess it's good I have a bear vault…Aug 25, 2013 at 11:50 am #2018466
Awesome. Metal canisters here we come. Better top that bear.Aug 25, 2013 at 1:14 pm #2018486
I had actually heard about this two weeks ago from a student who went backpacking in Yosemite. The bear was working in the area he was camped in, and he and his buddies had already chased it off several times that night, when a lady with a rifle came into their camp. Turned out she was hired by the park to tag the bear prior to removal. Her gun used simunition or paint balls, and the bear, which had been staying in the bushes around the camp, took off as soon as she arrived. (Before she came they could see the reflection of the bear's eyes in the bushes with their flashlights.)
The lady said the bear was pushing the canisters off a cliff to break them open on the rocks. She hung around for awhile, and the student and friends went back to sleep. No lady or bear in the morning, cannister okay.
If it's just Garcia cannisters the bear has been going after, it makes me wonder how my Bearikade canister would react to a drop onto rocks?Aug 25, 2013 at 1:27 pm #2018489
I think an ursack would be JUST fine in this scenario.
First, the bear has to get it off the tree… then even if he/she throws it off a cliff, while your food will probably be messed up, the sack will probably be fine.
BTW. This same technique is used by crows to crack nuts and with snails.Aug 25, 2013 at 1:27 pm #2018490
@burtonatorLocale: norcalAug 25, 2013 at 4:05 pm #2018532
@williamlawLocale: SF Bay Area
"Garcia bear vault" is kinda ambiguous.
I was in Yosemite last weekend. At the grill in tuolumne meadows enjoying a cheeseburger after our trip, we heard people at the table next to us talking about losing food to a bear. They were doing the JMT, first or second night out at Sunrise Creek. According to them, a bear opened a Garcia somehow. I don't remember the details they related exactly. The guy did say that the bear was tossing the canisters up in the air. "40 feet" was the distance cited, and it was quite the spectacle, according to the camper recounting the events.
My thought at the time was that the lid probably wasn't totally fastened (e.g., just one of the two screws), allowing the bear the get a claw under the lid. But who knows.Aug 25, 2013 at 4:26 pm #2018536
Kevin, check your Ursack thread
We had bald eagles that lived in the front yard. Terrible neighbors. Would drop oyster and clams on the roof to break them open. Would scare the crap out of you at times. Leaving bit of animals all over the place.
We had all better hope that this is an isolated incident and the bear has not taught any others.Aug 25, 2013 at 4:40 pm #2018544
@cameronLocale: Midland, Texas
It may not be politically correct but I think the best thing would be for the Park Service to shoot that bear ASAP. Even if we could design a "toss proof" bear can it would take a while and we'd have lots of problems in the meantime. Better to get rid of one bear so we aren't putting down more later on.Aug 25, 2013 at 7:56 pm #2018599
@millonasLocale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Maybe they should shoot the campers instead. But seriously, you have have a very different idea about the nature of wild places than I do, apparently. People are visitors. If they lose their food, then sucks to be them. But short of a rogue bear threatening physical harm "management" should not include killing wildlife that belongs there to make life convenient for people who don't. Better to ban *campers* from the area until the bear goes away.
Anyway, it is obvious they are trying to relocate the bear, so that is plenty active enough.Aug 25, 2013 at 8:13 pm #2018607
@justin_bakerLocale: Santa Rosa, CA
Your argument is philosophical and very principled, but it's not logical. Bears are not endangered animals in yoseite. If one becomes a problem then the best thing is to remove it.
Humans have been living in the wilderness in North America up until very recently. We are not just visitors. We are an integral part of our wilderness and the consequences of neglecting our forests are evident. When one animal threatens another, the solution is often violence. While you are so upset about one problem bear being killed, thousands of wild animals (including bears) are hunted for recreation and food.
I understand your sentiment but it's based in the false idea that humans are completely alien to the natural world. The true natural state of our wilderness included humans killing animals in self defense. It's just a bear, put down the hamburger.Aug 25, 2013 at 8:22 pm #2018610
@kat_pLocale: Pacific Coast
"We are not just visitors. We are an integral part of our wilderness"
I agree with this. We are animals too.Aug 25, 2013 at 8:39 pm #2018618
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
Luke: that was my thought, too. Eliminate this one bear somehow before other bears learn from it. Bears definitely learn from other bears. On salmon streams, a new behavior – diving, pouncing, etc – will spread from bear to bear and then each individual will select its best method (sometimes limited by its fishing spot which are hierarchal).
While relocating or killing this one bear isn't "fair" to that bear, when scores of other bears figure out how to defeat bear canisters, there will be many more "problem" bears requiring relocation and sometime being put down.
There are no shortage of black bears in Yosemite. There is an excess. With no natural predators anymore, they boom and bust with natural cycles of their food sources, but human food creates artificially higher bear populations.
"it's wilderness, blah, blah, blah." For the sake of the bears, I'd like to see steel storage boxes (discretely) positioned in all camping locations in problems areas of the Sierra. Hiking in Denali, grizzly bears don't care about humans – humans are never a source of food and if screw-ups happen, the NPS steps in with some serious negative reinforcement (rubber bullets, for instance). Since humans don't help or hurt bears, they are free to behave naturally and we are free to observe that behavior.Aug 25, 2013 at 11:19 pm #2018650
@millonasLocale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
"I understand your sentiment but it's based in the false idea that humans are completely alien to the natural world. "
Totally not true, and a great example of stereotyping someone you don't know a thing about. In fact I would have no problem having a mass kill off if it was deemed necessary for a good reason. I'd pull the triggers myself. And please don't presume to patronize me about the history of man's relationship to the environment. You are not talking to a child.
What I have a problem with is killing a bear for the sake of a bunch of fat-ass campers of the type that are careless with their food and like to congregate in large noisy clusters (how is that for stereotyping) that make for an easy target for such bears – killing it as a mere *convenience* for people who believe that their interests, however trivial, always trump everything else. A very few places are left where the campers ARE supposed to be visitors and it is not their prerogative to have their way in everything. A VERY few. Our National Parks are supposed to be such isolated places. Yosemite Valley has been turned into Disneyland, do we have to extend the hand-holding through the whole park.
Yes, I have a kind of grumpy Ed Abbey/Jack Turner-esque attitude about such issues, I admit, but I feel that when humans create a problem they should own it first, before they resort to solving it on a more self-centered basis. When I hear such suggestions being offered blithely I am sometimes filled with same kind of rage Jack Tuner wrote about experiencing at seeing someone in a zoo throwing food at the face of a mountain lion. If you don't know the story, he grabbed the young man by the throat and for a few seconds wanted to kill him. This comes not from some kind of touchy-feelly tree-hugging place, but from somewhere deeper and more primal. If you can't understand that, then you are doomed to forever reducing the deeper idea of wilderness into "just another tree-hugging ideal" that can be easily dismissed. Or most ridiculously, claim it is based on "the idea that humans are completely alien to the natural world". That is not even remotely what it is about. The deeper idea is in fact *centered* on preserving something important about *man's* relationship with the environment (and *for* man, not just bears) that has a far older provenance than what you are talking about.
The logical foundation of the default "kill the bear" solution, while not a big deal in this situation, is in fact writ-large the reason we have been so devastating to the environment over the past several centuries. I say fix the people and/or campsite first then if that doesn't work move or kill the bear – but not "hey that bear stole my sandwich .. kill it!". Now if the campers who lost the food had to hunt and kill the bear themselves, using pointy sticks and/or flint-headed arrows (yes, just like that had to do before snicker's bars and peanut butter in bear cans) I'd be all for it – in fact I'd pay to see it.
There are big questions in my mind that are pertinent here. A bear can not pick up a bear can (say that 10 times fast) – this is one of the design principles. Still less a black bear. Ergo it would have had to swat it like a big furry Maradona all the way to a fairly high cliff for the score. It would then have to be able to easily get to the cracked can. I think the conditions for such behavior to be successful should be *very* limited – I want to say impossible since I don't believe a properly closed Garcia can would crack easily in such cases. Of course the idea of a bear "throwing" a can is totally preposterous. Therefore put in bear boxes in that spot – end of problem. Or did the affected campers, as suggested above, just leave the lid attached incorrectly. Seems like there may have been too many episodes for that to be the case – or did the first can have a lose lid and the rest were just attempt by the bear to reproduce the success. I find it hard to belive all of them would have neatly cracked. I think there is some missing information here somewhere.
On the bummer side of things I think the Berikade might crack easier under such conditions, and possibly the bear vault about the same. Unless the bear was so choosy that it only went for Garcia cans – but how long could that last. Its all definitely an big issue – I don't want to minimize it – since the current whole foundation of having a lot of people camping in Yosemite is the zero-tolerance rule on access to human food.Aug 26, 2013 at 3:40 am #2018666
@rayestrellaLocale: Northern Minnesota
I think the Forest Service needs to make some “training” grenade bear canisters. They would be rigged with a pressure switch and loaded with capsicum. When a bear grabbed it or knocked it over it would use air pressure to blow out a cloud of pepper mist. At the same time a loud recording would start of a lady’s voice saying, “Oh look, a cute bear” over and over.
Soon every bear would be scared of canisters and tourists….Aug 26, 2013 at 6:12 am #2018676
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
Yosemite Valley is no longer wilderness. The correct solution is to remove all vendors from the park and blow up Hwy 120.Aug 26, 2013 at 7:01 am #2018683
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
"The correct solution is to remove all vendors from the park and blow up Hwy 120."
No, no, no,… then all those people will go someone else
Better to just call Yosemite Valley an amusement park and contain the damage. Those cliffs prevent people from leaking out and contaminating other areas.Aug 26, 2013 at 8:13 am #2018694
@redmonkLocale: Greater California Ecosystem
The problem is people think a bear resistant container is bear proof.
These same people let bears play with their ball of food.
Bear gets food, and refines the technique.
I'm do like the idea of eliminating wilderness travelers that stand by and watch animals play with their food. Perhaps a season ban into national parks on the first offense, and go from there.
I also like the idea of wilderness travelers filled with enough respect for the animals that instead of watching a bear toss a can around for amusement, they get up and chase the bear off. It beats having pepper bombs in the wilderness.
I am in the camp that thinks setting off pepper bombs amounts to distributing seasonings for the next bear to walk by, increasing interest in that area.
Bears are curious. The wilderness areas are filled with uneducated people. One of these is easier to change than the other.Aug 26, 2013 at 9:30 am #2018715
I'm in the crowd that thinks the bear should be eliminated. One- it's been proven time and again that you can move a bear and they will simply either return to where they came from or to an area that is similar to it. This bear has become habituated to humans- he will be a danger anywhere. Additionally, if this is a female bear, she will teach her offspring this trick. They will teach their offspring. Better to eliminate one bear than to have to deal with multiple bears that learn this.
I do like the idea someone presented of a "bear can bomb" filled with capsicum. The problem is that this bear has already self-rewarded enough that it's unlikely they will be deterred by one bad experience. Might be worth doing for other bears- leave some of those around, bear messes with them and they give him a face full, they learn to leave bear cans alone. Maybe.Aug 26, 2013 at 9:33 am #2018716
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
"I'd like to see steel storage boxes (discretely) positioned in all camping locations in problems areas of the Sierra."
That has been tried with some success. Brown-painted steel footlockers can be found all over in some of the parks. The problem is that this concentrates backpackers to the close proximity of the box. Plus, it is not LNT.
–B.G.–Aug 26, 2013 at 10:52 am #2018727
@aldoleopoldLocale: Great Lakes
Paraphrase "Lets kill the bears rather than letting them have the audacity to interfere with my camping trip".
When it comes down to that I'll just stay home. :-PAug 26, 2013 at 11:27 am #2018734
Im gonna start killing all those darn marmots for chewing through my food
And lets not forget the neighbourhood dog for keeping me awake at night
Leave no trace except for the bodies of bears that need to make way for our enjoyment
;)Aug 26, 2013 at 11:28 am #2018735
Dean L said: "Paraphrase "Lets kill the bears rather than letting them have the audacity to interfere with my camping trip"."
No. You can mock it all you want, but the bottom line is that this bear is going to be a danger to humans at some point. Is it man's fault? Yes. Should every effort be made to prevent bears from becoming habituated to human food? Absolutely. But placing the life of one bear over human safety is ludicrous. Note that I live in Alaska and don't camp in Yosemite. It's not going to affect my campout. But I don't want to read in the news later that some kid got killed because soft-hearted people felt it would be wrong to eliminate a problem bear. The bear will die then, for certain, and a person will have been harmed. When you add in the possibility of this bear teaching other bears how to do this, compounding the problem, there is only one logical solution.Aug 26, 2013 at 11:46 am #2018740
@aldoleopoldLocale: Great Lakes
I'm not willing to let a bear get killed just so you or I can recreate. I think you missed the point. I really don't care where you live. The ability of wildlife to live is far more important than your or my leisure time. If your daily life is so affected by the natural world, then perhaps you should move.Aug 26, 2013 at 11:52 am #2018744
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
Maybe if you don't let humans into wild areas to recreate, then we won't appreciate the wild areas so in hte long term will allow them to be exploited and more adversely affected.
If there are many bears, then killing one problem bear won't affect their long term survival.Aug 26, 2013 at 12:00 pm #2018747
Dean L said: "I'm not willing to let a bear get killed just so you or I can recreate. I think you missed the point. I really don't care where you live. The ability of wildlife to live is far more important than your or my leisure time. If your daily life is so affected by the natural world, then perhaps you should move."
I think it's just that we have a different view on the value of animal life vs. human life. You seem to view animals as our equals (or possibly more important) whereas I simply don't see their lives as being as important as human life. I'm all for conservation, but with what I consider reasonable limits.
My daily life is positively impacted by the natural world. I am perfectly content living and recreating where I do and have only had positive encounters with wildlife. I do thank you for your concern, however.
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