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The Bear Truth

GanjaGuru

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Years ago I was, like most people, terrified of bears.
I had never encountered any but I had heard lurid stories of course--attacks, maulings, etc.
Scary stuff.

I was a volunteer for the U.S. Forest Service for decades. Most of the time all I did was pick up trash at drive-in campgrounds.
Then I got offered a dream deal. A campground host at a popular back-pack campground, but I could drive in via a gated and locked dirt fire-road.
My duties would be to stay there Sat & Sun. and do stuff like give nature talks and talk of Indian lore and give hiking advice.
I go out there with the Forest Service for a look-see on a weekday. What a cool place! Next to a stream w/trout, nice outhouses, a group area off to the side.
So when I'm out there with the Forest Service and they're telling me about the place and they say "Oh and btw, there's a bear that comes here once a week or so, usually on the week-ends."
YIKES!
I'd be spending the night in my van with my dogs, but ya know, bears can actually tear their way into a vehicle. That's right, a car is no protection, to a bear the steel is like cardboard to a person. And bears can easily kill dogs with a single swipe of their hairy arm.
So anyway a friend stops by as I'm getting ready to go out for my first night at the remote campground. I take out my Ruger .22 pistol and put in 1 bullet.
My friend says "do you think a .22 bullet will do anything to a bear."
And I say "oh the bullet isn't for the bear, it's for me, cause if a FOUR HUNDRED POUND OMNIVORE tears into my van and kills my dogs, I'm gonna shoot myself in the head so I don't get eaten alive."

As it turned out though, it was a common 250 lb. harmless campground she-bear.
She actually had a name (Ginger, due to her coloring). Ginger would casually walk into the campground like it was hers (which of course it was). If no one was there she'd tear through the trash cans, if someone was camped there she'd walk towards them.
Most people under that circumstance will back away from their table. And for every step backwards they took, Ginger would take a step forward. If the person stopped, so would she. If YOU walked towards HER, she'd back off, but most people don't react that way. No one in their right mind would walk TOWARDS a bear whaddareyanuts?
Anyway Ginger would keep walking forward as people backed away from their table, and Ginger would figure okay they don't want this food anymore I'll have it.
And then she'd leave.
The Forest Service, Boy Scouts and others who spend a lot of time in the woods recommend you yell, wave your arms, bang pots and pans and throw small rocks if a bear shows up.

Fear people, not bears.
 

Hick

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mmmmm, "Dumpster, garbage, campground" bears. The type bear that is actually the most dangerous. Bears that have lost the "natural fear" of man. Bears that have learned the presence of man means food.

I have a 'tale', too.
Several years back, I was invited on a pack trip into the Montana Bitterroot range for a week of trout fishing with a reputable outfitter. My cost was pretty much, what it would cost me to showup on his doorstep with my fishing rod. How could I refuse.
I arrived late the evening before we were scheduled to set out. "Mack" filled me in on the next mornings agenda and I riddled him with questions on the tackle, gear, ect. that I should include/exclude from the panards. Next am on our way outta' town, we stopped at a li'l Sporting Goods, bait shop, gas station that caters to pple heading out into the wilderness, for a few last minute items and fuel.
I wandered through the store looking for anything that I might have neglected to throw in, or that might come in handy during the week. I came across a rack of "Bear Bells"..? A small bell, about 2-3 inch square, attatched to a fiberglass rod about 2 feet long, in such a manner that it could be tied to a backpack frame, and would 'jingle' as the hiker walked along. I picked one up and 'jingled' it just about the time Mack came in the door. He looked at me with a wide grin, kinda; shook his head and went to the counter to pay.
I hustled on outside to the truck 'n horse trailer, giddy to get this trip underway. On our way on up the moutain to the trailhead, I asked Mack about bears. He said we would be going into an area with a lotta' black bears and even a few 'grizz's'. The thought of seeing, possibly even photographing a good grizz peaked my interest, shall we say. I immeadiatly started with questions. "How big are the grizz here?".."What's the easiest way to distinguish between them?".. "Think we'll see any?"..to which Macks replies were usually one or two words.(Mack don't say a whole lot)
Well, eventually, we got headed up the trail, packstring in towe. Mack leading off, the two pack horses next, and I bringing up the rear. Several times along the trail, I saw huge piles of bear scat and silently wondered to myself.."black or grizzly??"
About 2 o'clock we stopped along the trail for a lunch break of coldcut sandwiches and piece of fresh fruit. Just so happened right nearby was another of those huge piles of bear crap. Mack caught me 'eyeballin' it.."Black bear." he says, in no uncertain terms. Well, now being as Mack was offering some information freely, I felt it was the time to pursue the subject a bit further.
"Black bear?..How can you tell?..the size?..
"Nope" he says.."by what's in it." "That pile ain't got no bells in it, thats black bear."
 

Mutt

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nice read you two. My turn. :D


I lived in Deer Lodge Montana. (God what a backwards place). Well, I was about ten yrs. old. My dad and I went hiking all the time. We went deep into the woods one saturday. I was lookin down at the ground and seen some prints. I was like cool wonder what they are. I followed 2-3 until I could get a clear impretion of the print. then I seen a print about 16" across. right next to a tree. I looked up the tree and it was scraped. about 14' off the ground. These were really fresh scrapes. I heard about 20 yds away some branches rustling. a grunt (growl) not sure. Then in a clear spot. I just seen lots of brown fur. needless to say our hike turned in to a runnin marathon back to the truck. All we had was our knives. (I am not Indian, screw that "bear wrestling" shit). biggest damn print I ever seen. I figured scraping 14' off the ground it was going to be one huge ass bear. and my size @ 10 yrs old I was a snack. My dad being the crazy fucker he is wanted to see if he could see it. But changed his mind when he seen I was already hauling ass. hahaha
 

GanjaGuru

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Even though the grizzly bear is California's official state animal (and on our state flag), there are no more. The white man killed off the last grizzly bear in California in 1917.

You know how to tell a black bear from a grizzly?
First go up and kick a bear in the ass.
If it chases you up a tree and eats you it's a black bear.
If it knocks the tree over and eats you, it's a grizz.

I gotta disagree with you Hick on campground bears. They have lost their fear of man yeah...and?
You hear of a lot of reports of campground bears eating campers? I haven't.
In fact, the last bear/person encounter I heard of in the area I used to haunt that resulted in injury was when a kid, despite being told repeatedly NOT to bring food into the tent went to bed with a chocolate bar under his pillow.
Bears have a highly developed sense of smell. A bear on midnight patrol of that campground smelled the chocolate. He went into the tent and moved the kids head off the pillow with his paw, took the candy and left.
The kid had 4 or 5 tiny tiny puncture marks on his head from the bears claws, when the bear had moved his head off the pillow.
Obviously the bear's intent was not to harm the 10-year old kid.
Nevertheless the bear was tracked down and slaughtered.

I would sometimes laugh at campers reactions to Ginger. Often she'd lurk on the outskirts of the campground at night until all the campers lights were out, then raid the trash cans and picnic tables.
People would hear something and shine their flashlights and freak.
Hard to blame them. Even though I knew she was harmless unless molested, it still would send a shiver up my spine to shine my flashlight over at the rattling trashcans and see a pair or yellow/red eyes about 4' off the ground reflected back at me.
But she would walk past my tent close enough so where I could hear her breathe and she never bothered me.
Because bears aren't after poeple. In fact, they don't recognize people as food source; we're not on their list. They're after our food.
When a bear comes into a campground he/she's in scavenger mode. They don't want any trouble. Which is why they're easily chased away.
Your family dog is much more dangerous than a bear when it comes to biting/injuring people.

On hunting bears:
I can't understand why people hunt bears.
They taste TERRIBLE.
Someone gave my friend 2 bear paws (supposedly a delicacy). He tried crock potting them and they stank up his house. So he calls me up and asks if I wanted them to feed my dogs so I drove over, got them and brought them back home, sat them on the ground and called my dogs over.
Now, my dogs weren't picky eaters. They would eat their own vomit, and cat shit, but they weren't the least bit interested in bear meat. In fact Rusty sniffed the bear paws and looked at me as if to say "you don't expect us to eat that do you?"
 

skunk

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hey i used to be a sasquatch hunter does that count lol. but anyway i think bears are like any other animal or people they are issued there own brain and are tought what they know and at any given moment any animal /person can and will ignore what they were taught. like humans /sharks/bears/dogs/lions/aligators ect. were not suppost to be on there food list either. but i do believe anything hungry enough will be provoked to eat anything to survive . they say sharks just take a bite out of people because they think were a seal and leave us alone because they didnt like what they tried . i say ** they know thats all it takes is 1 bite out of a seal and its dead and ill come back later and finish it off later.
 

Hick

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Black Bears have increased in population in a number of areas in the USA. The number of attacks by these, usually passive, bears has increased proportionally. Especially as we humans encroach on their habitat. Recorded killings by black bears this century total only 35 across North America. Most of these killings were unprovoked acts of predation. How likely is a black bear to be a killer? The 650,000 black bears of North America kill fewer than one person per 3 years, on the average, despite hundreds of thousands of encounters. To put this in perspective, for each death from a black bear across North America, there are approximately 17 deaths from spiders, 25 deaths from snakes, 67 deaths from dogs, 150 deaths from tornadoes, 180 deaths from bees and wasps, 374 deaths from lightning, and 90,000 homicides in the United States alone (data from the National Center for Health Statistics, 1980-1983). Source: http://bear.org

When bears become nuisances (usually due to unknowledgeable campers) we have to catch them in our live trap and bring them down 77 kilometers of poor logging road.
http://www.usscouts.org/safety/safe_bea.html

No one has been killed in an attack by a California black bear, and attacks are so rare that each merits full investigation by the state. But regardless, attacks are on the rise.

Mono County, October 2003 – A 43-year old Orange County man was struck across the face and chest by a bear at a private recreation facility in Mono Village. According to witnesses, a sow bear, with two cubs behind her, approached the victim as he stood motionless and completely quiet next to the short stairway to his cabin. For unknown reasons the sow lunged at the victim, striking him at least once. The man sustained cuts on his eyes, cheek, and inside his mouth. The sow was later shot and killed, and the yearling cubs were allowed to disperse.

Los Angeles County, July 2003 – A male hiker was knocked down by a bear at a remote campsite along the Pacific Crest Trail in the Angeles National Forest. The hiker had just reached the camp, which was empty, dropped his pack on a picnic table, and was looking for a place to hang his food. As he walked back toward the pack, he heard a noise behind him. As he turned he was knocked to the ground by a bear. After standing over him for a few seconds, the bear grabbed the backpack and began dragging it off. The man shouted at the bear and threw rocks until the bear finally retreated without the backpack. The hiker received only minor bruises and was not seriously hurt.

Los Angeles County, July 2001 – A woman was bitten on the arm by a bear at a county-run tree farm near La Verne. The bear, which was earlier spotted climbing on a nearby trash can, reportedly walked up to the woman while she was seated at a picnic table and bit her on the arm. The woman was treated at a hospital for puncture wounds. The bear was later shot and killed by Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies. The bear weighed approximately 85 pounds and was estimated at one to two years of age.

Kern County, August 1998 – A man and woman were attacked by a sow bear with two cubs while they were sleeping outside in the Piute Mountains. They reported being awakened at 5:30 a.m. by a noise, then saw the bears within a few feet of them. When the man sat up to see what the bears were doing, the sow attacked. The man sustained extensive damage to both his forearms, as well as deep cuts to his back and more superficial wounds to his legs. The woman sustained a cut underneath her eyelid and superficial wounds on her legs. Both were treated at a hospital. The sow was later shot and killed, and the yearling cubs were released nearby.

Mono County, April 1996 – A man received a bite on the buttocks from a young bear. Further details are not known.

Shasta County, April 1995 – A 13-year-old boy was injured and received eight stitches on his head after being bitten or pawed by a bear in his tent. The boys indicated that they did not have any food in the tent. The bear had also gone through their backpacks (located 25 feet away) and eaten some canned goods and toothpaste. According to the three boys in the tent, they had hung the food from a tree the night before. Attempts to locate the bear were unsuccessful.

San Bernardino County, August 1993 – Two separate incidents occurred within three days of each other. In both cases, the bear — or bears — grabbed a child by the head and attempted to drag him away. In each incident, both victims were 13-year-old males and were sleeping on the ground in sleeping bags at the time of the attack. The bear also inflicted minor injuries on three other campers immediately prior to the attacks. The attacks occurred at two group campgrounds approximately two miles from each other and the attacks ended when other campers aggressively came to the victims’ aid. More than 100 people were sleeping on the ground in the immediate area at the time of the each attack. Both campgrounds were either clean or moderately clean. However, the area is interspersed with cabins and garbage is available nearby. Natural foods were available and abundant at the time of the attacks.

Within two hours of the second incident, two bears were tracked with dogs and killed. Both bears were young, healthy males weighing about 200 pounds each. The necropsy performed later indicated that both bears were disease free. Residents in the area felt that the same two bears were observed with a sow the previous summer and that these animals had been feeding on garbage and handouts.

Shasta County, May 1993 – A man was injured by a bear while sleeping in a campground near Shasta Lake. He was sleeping on the ground when he stated that he woke up to a bear drooling on him. When he sat up, the bear swatted him on the head and ran. The victim was given three stitches. Garbage was plentiful at his camping location. The victim left the hospital before DFG employees could investigate the incident. There is no further information available.

Siskiyou County, August 1991 – While archery hunting for deer in the Marble Mountain Wilderness, a black bear attacked and mauled an adult male. After the victim observed the bear, he began photographing her until he noticed that she had cubs. The bear charged him and he attempted to escape. She caught him and bit him repeatedly around the shoulders.

Trinity County, May 1986 – A 35-year old man was attacked at around 3 a.m. while camping in a tent in the Trinity Alps Wilderness. The victim felt that he was caught in the middle of a fight between two boars when one bear attacked him in his tent. The bear left when the victim hit the bear with a tentpole. Two bears then returned and acted aggressively toward each another before they finally left. The victim sustained several puncture wounds to his shoulder and lacerations to the back of his head.

Siskiyou County, September 1986 – A long-time resident of a small rural community was injured while feeding a bear at his residence. The victim had been feeding bears at this location for more than 30 years.

*July 1996: In Angeles National Forest in Southern California, a bear entered a campground at night and bit a woman's foot while she was in her sleeping bag. No report was made, the campers went back to sleep, and four hours later, the bear returned and bit the head of an 8-year-old boy, one of the most serious bear-caused injuries ever recorded.

*April 1996: In the town of Mammoth in the eastern Sierra, a bear approached a man working on his pick-up truck at his home, bit him in the butt, then ran off.

*June 1995: At Desolation Wilderness near Lake Tahoe, a bear approached a camp late at night, apparently in search of food, reached out and gashed a 13-year-old boy, leaving him with scrape wounds and a headache.

*April 1995: In Shasta-Trinity National Forest, a man found what he thought was an abandoned cub but was actually a 70-pound yearling, put it in his vehicle and said he was driving it to an animal protection facility. In the two days that followed, two women joined on the trip, and while driving in the town of Mt. Shasta, received minor injuries from the yearling while in the car.

*August 1993: In San Bernardino National Forest east of Los Angeles, two near identical but separate incidents occurred within three days of each other at campgrounds. In each case, a bear grabbed 13-year-old males who were sleeping and tried to drag them away. Though the boys were scared, only minor injuries were inflicted.

*May 1993: At Shasta Lake near Redding, a man camping with garbage littering his campsite woke up to a bear drooling on him. When the man sat up, the bear swatted him on the head, leaving a small gash that required three stitches, then ran off.

*August 1991: In the Marble Mountain Wilderness in Siskiyou County, a man was trying to photograph a bear within a few feet when he suddenly noticed it was a female with two cubs. The bear charged him and bit him around the shoulders. When the film was developed, it included a photograph of a bear with an open mouth one foot away.

*May 1986: In the Trinity Alps north of Weaverville, a man camped in a tent found himself caught in the middle of a fight between two bears. One of the bears attacked him, biting him in the shoulder and swatting him once in the back of the head. The man hit the bear with a tent pole, the bear retreated, fought again with the other bear, then left.

*September 1986: In remote Siskiyou County near the Oregon border, a man who had been feeding bears at his house for 30 years was cuffed around but otherwise uninjured.
 

Mutt

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No one has been killed in an attack by a California black bear, and attacks are so rare that each merits full investigation by the state. But regardless, attacks are on the rise.
Just a comment on this. the mt. lion is also on the rise for attacks. I firmly beleive and attest with my own eyes why. Our stupid ass society beleives that tree pulp is the way to go. I have seen whole sides of mountains worth of tress cleared. but a few scraggly ones left to keep it in the eyes of the law a "select cut" as "clear cutting" has been deemed illegal in many areas.
Well, in a nut shell. we take away there home and food sources by doing this. Sowhat are they going to do. look for a food source. We can thank mankind for the way the weather is and by the way nature is being. Mankind doesn't respect the Earth why should it respect us. Smog, clear cutting, deforestization, logging, paper companies, oil companies. Damn we wonder why ole Mother Nature is gettin a little pissy. IMO
 

Hick

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I would agree wholeheartedly mutt. Encroachment and habitat loss are paramount. Hunting (liscense fees, habitat stamps, use permits) plays a huge roll in the funding of preservation of habitat for all wildlife.
Cougars haven't been a 'hunted species' in CA for a couple of decades. Their "human encounters" are definately on the rise and will continue to rise as populations explode.

"No hunting".."No population control"
 

puffadder

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Although, in my younger days, I hunted just about any type of game that is available in Texas, I find that, the older I get, the less I want to kill something. Still, I've always made it a point not to shoot at anything that could make turds out of me if I miss.
 

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