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Finally saw a bear(s) in the wild!


NCeagle

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After all these years of hiking and camping in places where bears are common, I've seen lots of damaged garbage cans and coolers and many other things that proved bears were around, but I had never actually seen one.  Boy, did that change in a hurry at Lake Powhatan campground in Asheville, NC a few days ago!  I had one leg out of the trailer headed to pick up my hat that I had left on the table next to my bike when I saw one!!  I had my iPhone in hand and snapped a shot while stepping quickly back inside with a heart rate that was probably looking like I had just finished a marathon.  🙂  

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But wait, the story doesn't end there.  I'm peeking at the bear through my door window (I have the Zarcor you can see through) and here comes two cubs right behind her.  I stick my arm back out the door and snap this picture:

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Wow.  Even though mama isn't very large by bear standards, I'd not want to get between her and the cute cubs.  I had just gotten done riding my bike and I had my bear spray on my belt as I always do when hiking or riding in bear country.  I did not have either on me stepping out of the trailer thinking I was grabbing my hat and coming right back in.  Lesson learned!

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Cute cubs! 

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Do they use bear proof trash containers there? Whenever I see those I don’t leave the Ollie without my spray. Those three were headed for the fire ring, most likely some fool camper cooked food or burned trash in it. If they become habituated to humans they will have to be relocated. 

Black bears are unpredictable, I dislike them, but I fear the big brown ones more😳 I used to ride my KTM along the ID/MT border and saw many small black bear butts as they disappeared into the trees a hundred yards in front of the bike. But once we stopped for a break (always ride with others!) and saw fresh grizzly tracks in the thick dust, the edges of those huge paw prints were still crumbling. I always carried spray and a big revolver, but I am not sure I would have ever had time to deploy either. I did remove both one time, when a moose and her baby blocked the forest road and we were not able to proceed for twenty minutes. They finally ambled away. I hate moose too… I have never had to use my spray or the gun, fingers crossed. The rangers at Glacier had to drive away two grizzlies from the campground with rifle shots when I was there.😳

My personal observations make me believe that 99% of campers are clueless about the dangers of large wild animals.

John Davies

Spokane WA

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50 minutes ago, John E Davies said:

Do they use bear proof trash containers there? Whenever I see those I don’t leave the Ollie without my spray. Those three were headed for the fire ring, most likely some fool camper cooked food or burned trash in it. If they become habituated to humans they will have to be relocated. 

Black bears are unpredictable, I dislike them, but I fear the big brown ones more😳 I used to ride my KTM along the ID/MT border and saw many small black bear butts as they disappeared into the trees a hundred yards in front of the bike. But once we stopped for a break (always ride with others!) and saw fresh grizzly tracks in the thick dust, the edges of those huge paw prints were still crumbling. I always carried spray and a big revolver, but I am not sure I would have ever had time to deploy either. I did remove both one time, when a moose and her baby blocked the forest road and we were not able to proceed for twenty minutes. They finally ambled away. I hate moose too… I have never had to use my spray or the gun, fingers crossed. The rangers at Glacier had to drive away two grizzlies from the campground with rifle shots when I was there.😳

My personal observations make me believe that 99% of campers are clueless about the dangers of large wild animals.

John Davies

Spokane WA

They do use bear proof trash containers there and preach to everyone about not leaving trash of any sort around.  People are people though - the guy in the camp sight right next to mine left a 3/4 jar of peanut butter in the burn ring along with all his other perishables.  Riding my bike around I saw several dog bowls with food/water out in the open. Fortunately the rangers patrol and come around quickly after check out and clean up after some of the idiots but you're right - they may need to be relocated eventually which is sad for the bears.

Definitely glad it wasn't a big brown bear!

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Beautiful! Great pix. We’ve not seen black bear in TN, VA, PA and NY state parks, but when we were sipping coffee one morning at our house in Williamsburg, VA, a fine looking black bear wandered right by us and into the woods…and we live in a community! Pulled my phone out a bit too late, but got a blurry picture of him just before he disappeared.


 

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We have black bear on our property,  but rarely see them. Usually just their signs--scat, claw marks on trees, overturned rocks, chewed water lines from the spring collection system, etc.

I usually don't have my phone handy when I spot one, (or, I'm too busy grabbing the dog to get a photo) but I  did get this one from a distance,  last year

 

Screenshot_20220807-113511_Messages.jpg

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We have an abundance of black bear (no brown bear) in WNC. if you see an active bear notice in a campground, or bearproof trash cans, you might just want to lock your car doors. This video from local ABC channel this year shows why:

https://fb.watch/eLBFXziB2j/

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Screenshot_20220807-113831_Facebook.jpg

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When we were at Lake Powhatan in April we noticed that a few campers just didn't care/understand the very clear bear warnings about not leaving out anything to attract them. The warnings are very specific and yet we saw coolers left out and food items left on the picnic tables. The sad thing in your great photos is that mama bear is teaching her cubs that places where people are equal food.  Sooner or later there will be trouble and the bears will be the losers.  Paula

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@GraniteStaters, the bears were here first, imo. We are the interlopers.

Irresponsible campers should get fined, imo. I think there's a ranger shortage these days..  Irresponsible campers make it harder on everyone,  especially the bears, in the long run, as you said. 

Only the first photo was mine. The others are screen grabs  (and the link) from Facebook. 

 

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20 minutes ago, SeaDawg said:

Only the first photo was mine. The others are screen grabs  (and the link) from Facebook. 

My comment was referring to the photos NCEagle took at Lake Powhatan.  🙂  We were pretty surprised that we didn't see any rangers checking on the sites for food and coolers left so easily available for the bears because when we made our reservations the rules stated, in no uncertain terms, what they expected from campers re bears and food/scented items, even saying that anything not stored in a hard sided vehicle or bear locker would be confiscated.   I think you are right about there being a ranger shortage. Every campground we stayed in on that trip had signs looking for staff.  Paula

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Thanks. I agree. Short staff, etc, overwhelmed by more and more  numbers of campers,  especiallythe inexperienced,  untrained ones will only lead to more bear destroyed.  

Even before covid, decades before, I'd be saddened by half burned trash in the fire ring. And not just in the US. Canada, Australia,  etc.

We've often thought a license to boat would be a good idea. We got our daughter into uscg auxilliary school at 10, I think, so she'd know the rules just weren't ours. 

Maybe a training course to camp? 

My observation has been, the cheaper the campsite, less staff, more infractions. Quite probably because of less staff. (Unless, of course, said campsites are really, really hard to get there. Then, it's mostly diehards who understand and follow guidelines. )

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Seadawg is exactly, right we have an abundance of bears. Here in East TN I know bear hunters and resource officers.  They all say the black bear population has exploded all over the Appalachians.  The people population has also increased.  Encounters are much more prevalent.  In our hikes, especially in years past, we've had bears cross our path very close on two occasions deep in the woods.  Once one stepped out of a laurel thicket and almost bumped into my wife with my toddler daughter on her back.  My wife froze, and fortunately it scared the poor bear, who was I think an adolescent, as much or more than us.  He ran off barking like a dog.  We just hoped momma wasn't close.  This was a time when bears were fewer and not as accustomed to humans and the food they carry.  Now even hikers in the deep woods and AT are having serious problems with bears. I totally agree with John Davies, I always now take my spray and where I can my weapon. Especially these last few weeks, the local media have focused on the issues you all have described concerning human contact, feeding, carelessness etc. Now it's leading, more often, to the death of the bear instead of relocation.  Now the slogan is " A fed bear is a dead bear".  Sad.

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On 8/7/2022 at 6:45 AM, John E Davies said:

I always carried spray and a big revolver

My BC friends carry "bear bangers" when in grizzly country. They think they're better than either spray or a revolver. I think sometimes some of them carry a revolver but not typically. 

I don't carry spray in black bear areas. The only documented attacks on humans in WA state in a long time that I know of have all either been a result of hunters shooting but not killing bears or unleashed pets running back to owners with bears following. I have a friend who found himself between a mama and two cubs in a berry patch across the trail up on Desolation Peak in the North Cascades. He sang gently to her as he backed away from being inbetween them, and continued down the trail with his heart racing. My encounters have all involved them running quickly away, though in one of those the bear sprinted down the trail right at me before darting off to my right down a game trail he/she obviously knew was there. That was stimulating - this encounter btw was on the West Coast Trail which runs between Port Renfrew and Bamfield on Vancouver Island.

For sure the ones that have become habituated are riskier due to their comfort level being around humans but I think that risk is more manageable than the risk from grizz.

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17 hours ago, John E Davies said:

Bear bangers, not for me….

https://thenelsondaily.com/news/letter-trouble-bear-bangers-41792

John Davies

Spokane WA

Yeah my friends have used them in the wilderness not in town. And they’ve indeed had cause to use them at least a few times each. One did have a story of poor aim, where they overshot and the bang happened on the far side of the bear. Fortunately the grizz decided to just take off in a sideways direction rather than coming right at my friend but he said it made him spend some time practicing doing a calm careful aiming of the device for any future encounters.  
 

My understanding is that they’re not legal in much of grizzly country in the US anyway. But aim is an issue with spray and revolvers too. You can also overshoot with spray. And as a revolver toting guy we met in Montana’s Bob Marshall Wilderness said to me when I asked about the revolver, you’re better off NOT carrying one unless you’re trained and you practice with it regularly - hewas a local who also did elk hunts out there and had a great story of a night where they all hovered on the outskirts of their camp while a grizz tried to get at the elk they’d shot and had hung high in camp. The bear never came at any of them so of course they didn’t shoot it. Sounded like a rough night.

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