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Re: $ Bear Spary 40 bucks - Going hiking - DO I NEED IT?

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$ Bear Spary 40 bucks - Going hiking - DO I NEED IT?
May 13, 2007 01:19PM
I was in Yellowstone watching a bear come out of the woods towards a group of tourists. It is against the law for anyone in that state ( and probably California to ) to be within 100 yards of a bear without a forest ranger present.

I saw this ranger reach into his back pocket for some spray - he didn't spray the bear because it took off the other way. I am curious how this works against the bear.

But more importantly since I am going hiking soon up in Yosemite and I have read that there is more bear activity early this summer - should I invest in a can of this stuff? It is just so expensive - I'd imagine buying it at the Yosemite store would cost even more. - sports chalet wants 40 bucks for it. Eehhh.
avatar Re: $ Bear Spary 40 bucks - Going hiking - DO I NEED IT?
May 13, 2007 04:19PM
You don't need it in Yosemite.

Re: $ Bear Spary 40 bucks - Going hiking - DO I NEED IT?
May 13, 2007 06:02PM
Why wouln't I need it in Yosemite?
avatar Re: $ Bear Spary 40 bucks - Going hiking - DO I NEED IT?
May 13, 2007 06:12PM
movingzachb wrote:

> Why wouln't I need it in Yosemite?

Because the only bears Yosemite has are black bears. You can just chase them away if they're being pests. Make yourself look big and throw rocks or sticks at them. Yellowstone has grizzly bears and they're another story.

Yosemite bear:



avatar Re: $ Bear Spary 40 bucks - Going hiking - DO I NEED IT?
May 13, 2007 09:26PM
For the uninitiated , Black bears can be either black, brown, or honey colored (see photo above). They are basically herbivores. Usually yelling and waving your arms is sufficient to chase them away. If they have scented foodstuffs, you may have to scare them off 3 or 4 times before they get frustrated and leave for good.

Several years ago (1985), a fellow named Stephen Herrero published a book entitled "Bear Attacks, Their Causes and Avoidance." It started out as a study on Grizzlies for the Canadian government, but then he expanded it to include Black bears and the U.S. mainland. A quick web search shows that a revised edition came out in 2002.

If memory serves me correctly, a rigorous search of the records showed only six unprovoked Black bear attacks on humans in North America up to the time of his first edition. Unprovoked meaning excluding cases of a mother protecting her cubs or cases of gross human stupidity.

Grizzly, Brown/Kodiak, and Polar bears are rather healthy carnivores and Black bear scare tactics are best not attempted with them. (None of these species presently exist in the Sierras or Cascades.)

I heartily recommend Herrero's book to anyone interested in the subject.

A final note to anyone camping or even just passing through bear country: heed the posted/published advice on safe storage of food and remember that it is you that are the visitor in their backyard.
Re: $ Bear Spary 40 bucks - Going hiking - DO I NEED IT?
May 14, 2007 11:20AM
Another scenario is that the bear will ignore you completely if it is happily chomping away at your improperly stored food. The most important thing to do is store your food in a bear-approved canister or food locker and the bears will stay away from you. That means leaving NO food or scented items in your car or tent (including lip balm, sunscreen, etc). The bear is likely only interested in your food, not you. So keep your food & scented items locked up at all times. Close your food locker or bear canister like a refrigerator.. take stuff out, close the lid/door of the canister/locker. A food locker/canister doesn't do any good if it's open. Bring a box or a cooler to keep all of your food/scented items in, so when you get to a trailhead or parking lot, you can easily take it out of your car and put it in a food locker. We often use those plastic hanging file folder boxes.

Hanging your food is a poor choice. Bears are surprisingly agile and can climb practically anything.

I have two stories to share (both true)

Our cousins went car camping in Yosemite. Made a fire. Opened the bear locker to get some hot chocolate. Left if open while they were sitting there. Bear came, dragged their backpack into the woods. Luckily the bear dropped it and didn't steal it forever.

Story 2- We were backpacking and stored all our food properly. A large group of 20 people camped not too far from us (how nice of them). They had 10 bear canisters of food, but it was the first night, they didn't have room for all of the food in the canisters, and they hung their power bars in the tree. In the middle of the night, Bear came, scaled the tree, snacked on the power bars while these people were banging their pots & pans, blowing on their whistles, shouting, keeping us awake for half the night. Bear could've cared less. For the record, the bear spat out all the wrappers.

So even if YOU store your food properly, the yahoos next to you may not have done the same.

See this website for more information:

http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/bears.htm

"A fed bear is a dead bear"

It's your own fault if a bear gets your food. I feel more sorry for the bear who gets a person's food than the person who lost it.



Post Edited (05-14-07 13:26)
avatar Re: $ Bear Spary 40 bucks - Going hiking - DO I NEED IT?
May 14, 2007 01:30PM
A friend and I were sitting at a table eating dinner in a Valley campground. When I got up to get something from the bear box she suddenly said, "bear!". There was a bear sitting at the side of the table waiting for us to notice and run away.

I chased the bear away but he grabbed a bag as he left. When I later went and cleaned up the mess he made I found that he had bitten into a box of tampons and that was all he got.

Re: $ Bear Spary 40 bucks - Going hiking - DO I NEED IT?
May 14, 2007 02:44PM
Quote:

>>Hanging your food is a poor choice. Bears are surprisingly agile and can climb practically anything.

Story 2- We were backpacking and stored all our food properly. A large group of 20 people camped not too far from us (how nice of them). They had 10 bear canisters of food, but it was the first night, they didn't have room for all of the food in the canisters, and they hung their power bars in the tree. In the middle of the night, Bear came, scaled the tree, snacked on the power bars while these people were banging their pots & pans, blowing on their whistles, shouting, keeping us awake for half the night. Bear could've cared less. For the record, the bear spat out all the wrappers. <<

I have spent many, many nights in bear country with my food hanging from a tree branch, including Yosemite and King's Canyon and surrounding wilderness. The bears have never, ever gotten any of it.

It has to be done right, and judging by what others have done, about 1 person in 50 does it properly (that would be me, I guess). When it is hung right, however, I believe that it would take a very acrobatic and lighweight bear with wings on his shoulders to get it.

Now that the agencies have mandated the cannisters, I guess we're stuck with them - but I'd put my hanging technique up against a cannister any day.

Bruce Jensen





Wilderness forever,
Bruce Jensen
Re: $ Bear Spary 40 bucks - Going hiking - DO I NEED IT?
May 14, 2007 02:52PM
movingzachb wrote:

> I was in Yellowstone watching a bear come out of the woods
> towards a group of tourists. It is against the law for anyone
> in that state ( and probably California to ) to be within 100
> yards of a bear without a forest ranger present.

Technically, it is illegal to *approach* to within 100 yards in Yellowstone - if you stop and the bear gets a bit closer to you, it is OK according to rangers I have spoken with. We have watched bears many times in Yellowstone from closer distances, and the rangers have stated uncategorically that they were OK with what we were doing. The key word is respect and good behavior.

Last summer at Teton, in fact, they were letting hundreds of people get to within 50 feet of a momma grizz and her three babies. Very unusual, and I was concerned for the wildness of the bears.

> I saw this ranger reach into his back pocket for some spray -
> he didn't spray the bear because it took off the other way. I
> am curious how this works against the bear.

How close was the bear?!?!

The ranger, and you, should know that no group of 3 people or more has ever been attacked by a grizzly in Yellowstone, and no group of 4 or more has ever even been bluff charged. Just the same, it pays to be careful, but that ranger must have had a reason to be afraid.

> But more importantly since I am going hiking soon up in
> Yosemite and I have read that there is more bear activity early
> this summer - should I invest in a can of this stuff? It is
> just so expensive - I'd imagine buying it at the Yosemite store
> would cost even more. - sports chalet wants 40 bucks for it.
> Eehhh.

You won't need it. Just keep your food safely stashed, respect their space and the bears won't bug you.

Bruce Jensen





Wilderness forever,
Bruce Jensen
Re: $ Bear Spary 40 bucks - Going hiking - DO I NEED IT?
May 14, 2007 05:26PM
When I first started hiking in Yosemite I thought about buying bear spray...mainly because I often hike alone and the first thing any of the "attack prevention" lists always have is "never hike alone". Fat chance 8^).

After reading accounts of its use, I decided against it. It seemed like it was unnecessary for black bears to begin with, and even with grizzlies, it seemed that the person with the spray was often being the aggressor...perhaps emboldened by having the spray available.

The few bears I've seen while hiking were no problem at all. As Bruce said, they should be treated with respect. They're where they're supposed to be, and if you just use your common sense, they'll go on their way and leave you alone. While they get yelled and pot-banged out of campgrounds, there's no need to do that when they're out where they're supposed to be. Of course, if you leave your backpack laying around while you take a break, with food in it, you're asking for trouble (back to the 'common sense').

I suppose the one thing I do when hiking is to not be too quiet; whether scraping my feet a bit, tapping the trek pole on the ground, clearing my throat, or having my tin drinking cup dangling from my pack, just something so they, or any other wildlife can hear you coming.





Gary
Yosemite Photo Galleries: http://www.pbase.com/roberthouse/yo
avatar Re: $ Bear Spary 40 bucks - Going hiking - DO I NEED IT?
May 14, 2007 06:45PM
I was at Grand Teton NP last summer (where they do have grizzlies). I was just waiting for someone at one of the visitor centers where a few rangers were talking to each other about the bear spray they carry. One said he thought he'd be more likely to use it on a violent person (it's just an extra large can of OC self-defense pepper spray) than a bear. They had a lot of it for sale in Yellowstone and GT though. I went on a schedule guided hike by a naturalist (not a ranger) who did carry a can. She didn't think she'd ever need it though.

For the most part, even grizzlies aren't that interested in people. Bears in general will only see people as a source of (hopefully) unattended or easy to procure food. I'm not sure it's legal in Yosemite, although pepper spray is otherwise legal anywhere in California without a license. However - it's limited to 2.5 oz and the "bear spray" I've seen at REI must be marketed as only for use against bears and not people.

It might make sense in some places where the bears don't come across that many people and may freak out and become agressive. Up in Alaska, I hear some campers/hikers carry shotguns where it's legal, although I hear it's a PITA to file all the paperwork needed for shooting a bear out of season. Supposedly a bear thusly killed needs to be skinned and the skin and skull presented to Fish and Wildlife. That must be fun dragging a bloody bear rug miles in the woods.
Re: $ Bear Spary 40 bucks - Going hiking - DO I NEED IT?
May 14, 2007 08:18PM
I know a couple people up in Tahoe that carry one of those little compressed air canisters that makes the super-loud horn sound, like for starting races. Supposedly works for getting black bears to bail- small, light and cheap! (but obnoxious!)
avatar Re: $ Bear Spary 40 bucks - Going hiking - DO I NEED IT?
May 14, 2007 08:27PM
Jmesenburg wrote:

> I know a couple people up in Tahoe that carry one of those
> little compressed air canisters that makes the super-loud horn
> sound, like for starting races. Supposedly works for getting
> black bears to bail- small, light and cheap! (but obnoxious!)

A whistle is lighter, cheaper, and works very well.

avatar Re: $ Bear Spary 40 bucks - Going hiking - DO I NEED IT?
May 14, 2007 10:47PM
Be careful with the whistles. There is a temptation to use it when you don't want to.

Use one long burst from the whistle to scare the bear if you must. Chances are, if you are that close to a bear you'll end up scaring yourself more than you scare the bear. The idea is to keep the bears away.

Three loud bursts is a universal sign that you are in trouble. Keep that in mind before you blow hot meaningless air.

I have always carried a whistle and it usually winds up at the bottom of the backpack. I have encountered nine bears in the Sierra and none in Yosemite.

The tips prior to this post are helpful. Don't waste your money on bear spray. If you feel the need to have it, Fry's Electronics in California sells it for about $6 labeled "Bear Scare" or something like that...doubtful it would do any good since it only shoots maybe 20 feet anyway and a pissed black bear won't get within 20 feet of you if it has a choice. More on that later, I'll start a new thread on "Bear Encounters" in a little bit.

Vince
avatar Re: $ Bear Spary 40 bucks - Going hiking - DO I NEED IT?
May 14, 2007 11:00PM
To scare a bear I put the whistle in my mouth and blew while running at the bear. I didn't see her again for a good 20 minutes even though her cub was up a tree near me.

Re: $ Bear Spary 40 bucks - Going hiking - DO I NEED IT?
May 15, 2007 08:17AM
I am wondering where the mention of the 2.5 oz. limitation comes from - my bear spray cannisters are something like 10 oz. plus, and shoot 30 feet or so. The ones that REI sells.

I have never needed one despite many grizzly bear sightings. I have never considered using them with black bears.

Again, respect and and keeping one's distance are the keys to benign encounters. Most of the time you can just enjoy them from a safe distance. If you detect a rare case of aggression (in a black bear, this could be a bear walking sort of sideways in your direction), don't look them in the eye, back away slowly, and make modest sounds.

Most sensitive situations are bear with baby and bear with food/carcass. most other times are of little concern. Last spring we watched a blondish black bear in Yosemite Valley, near the base of Nevada Fall and at Happy Isles (the same young bear, I think), rooting around in old logs for very long periods of time. He was a good boy, doing what he ought, and paying no attention to the crowds of admirers.





Wilderness forever,
Bruce Jensen
avatar Re: $ Bear Spary 40 bucks - Going hiking - DO I NEED IT?
May 15, 2007 10:28AM
> I am wondering where the mention of the 2.5 oz. limitation
> comes from - my bear spray cannisters are something like 10 oz.
> plus, and shoot 30 feet or so. The ones that REI sells.

I found some mention here from a seller of self-defense OC pepper spray:

http://www.peacemakerpepperspray.com/page/894784

CALIFORNIA - It is illegal to purchase, possess, or use any pepper spray that contains more than 2.5 ounces net weight of aerosol spray

If this is true, it sounds like bear spray gets around it with clear labeling that it is not for use against humans. However - I don't see any legal consequences from someone using bear spray against a human attacker. The laws are really hard to follow. I looked up the California code (OC pepper spray is considered "tear gas"winking smiley:

Quote

12401. "Tear gas" as used in this chapter shall apply to and
include all liquid, gaseous or solid substances intended to produce
temporary physical discomfort or permanent injury through being
vaporized or otherwise dispersed in the air, but does not apply to,
and shall not include, any substance registered as an economic poison
as provided in Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 12751) of Division
7 of the Agricultural Code provided that such substance is not
intended to be used to produce discomfort or injury to human beings
.

12403.7. Notwithstanding any other law, any person may purchase,
possess, or use tear gas and tear gas weapons for the projection or
release of tear gas if the tear gas and tear gas weapons are used
solely for self-defense purposes, subject to the following
requirements:

(e) (1) No person shall purchase, possess, or use any tear gas
weapon that expels a projectile, or that expels the tear gas by any
method other than an aerosol spray, or that contains more than 2.5
ounces net weight of aerosol spray
.
Re: $ Bear Spary 40 bucks - Going hiking - DO I NEED IT?
May 15, 2007 12:49PM
Thus spake Y.P.W. :

>> > I am wondering where the mention of the 2.5 oz. limitation
> comes from - my bear spray cannisters are something like 10 oz.
> plus, and shoot 30 feet or so. The ones that REI sells.

I found some mention here from a seller of self-defense OC pepper spray:

http://www.peacemakerpepperspray.com/page/894784

CALIFORNIA - It is illegal to purchase, possess, or use any pepper spray that contains more than 2.5 ounces net weight of aerosol spray

If this is true, it sounds like bear spray gets around it with clear labeling that it is not for use against humans. However - I don't see any legal consequences from someone using bear spray against a human attacker. The laws are really hard to follow. I looked up the California code (OC pepper spray is considered "tear gas"winking smiley:<<

So it would appear, and I think you are right, else REI could not sell the stuff - next:

>>Quote:

12401. "Tear gas" as used in this chapter shall apply to and
include all liquid, gaseous or solid substances intended to produce
temporary physical discomfort or permanent injury through being
vaporized or otherwise dispersed in the air, but does not apply to,
and shall not include, any substance registered as an economic poison
as provided in Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 12751) of Division
7 of the Agricultural Code provided that such substance is not
intended to be used to produce discomfort or injury to human beings.<<

This discussion may exclude bear pepper spray as "tear gas" if that material is registered as an economic poison and is not intended to produce human discomfort...I wil not look this up ;-) Then,

>>12403.7. Notwithstanding any other law, any person may purchase,
possess, or use tear gas and tear gas weapons for the projection or
release of tear gas if the tear gas and tear gas weapons are used
solely for self-defense purposes, subject to the following
requirements:

(e) (1) No person shall purchase, possess, or use any tear gas
weapon that expels a projectile, or that expels the tear gas by any
method other than an aerosol spray, or that contains more than 2.5
ounces net weight of aerosol spray.<<

This seems to make the use of 10-oz. bear pepper spray illegal if an attacking human is the offending party; but frankly, if a guy is coming at me with a knife, he can just eat that 10 ounces of pepper spray, and I'll deal with the legal ramifications later.

Bruce Jensen





Wilderness forever,
Bruce Jensen
avatar Re: $ Bear Spary 40 bucks - Going hiking - DO I NEED IT?
May 15, 2007 01:09PM
Bruce Jensen:

> This seems to make the use of 10-oz. bear pepper spray illegal
> if an attacking human is the offending party; but frankly, if a
> guy is coming at me with a knife, he can just eat that 10
> ounces of pepper spray, and I'll deal with the legal
> ramifications later.

I'm not a weapons enthusiast or anything. However - I did read about a case where someone on a bicycle was being robbed and he drew an illegally obtained weapon (dropped at the scene) and killed the robber before fleeing on the bicycle. The police asked the shooter to contact them, as he wouldn't be charged for killing the robber as it appeared to be a legitimate case of self-defense. They said at most he might be fined (no jail time) for a misdemeanor weapons possession violation.

Someone using an OC pepper spray meant for bears - against a human attacker - would hardly be worth pursuing as some sort of weapons violation.

Re: $ Bear Spary 40 bucks - Going hiking - DO I NEED IT?
May 24, 2007 09:02AM
referencing back to the mention of Yellowstone Grizzlies. A man was attacked in Yellowstone yesterday

heres the article

http://www.foxnews.com/wires/2007May24/0,4670,BearAttack,00.html

avatar Re: $ Bear Spary 40 bucks - Going hiking - DO I NEED IT?
May 24, 2007 10:55AM
I think the lesson here is to not stand and face a sow with a cub. I would suggest that anyone who runs into a sierra black bear sow with cubs move away from the bears without spending a lot of time looking at them. Facing and looking are threat gestures.





Old Dude
avatar Re: $ Bear Spary 40 bucks - Going hiking - DO I NEED IT?
May 24, 2007 11:17AM
mrcondron wrote:

> I think the lesson here is to not stand and face a sow with a
> cub. I would suggest that anyone who runs into a sierra black
> bear sow with cubs move away from the bears without spending a
> lot of time looking at them. Facing and looking are threat
> gestures.

Let's see. Here's a guy who knows it's a grizzly sow with cubs, and he's sticking around to take pictures - alone.

I thought that most nature photographers typically carry huge lenses with extenders to stay as far away from potentially dangerous animals.

Re: $ Bear Spary 40 bucks - Going hiking - DO I NEED IT?
May 15, 2007 12:54PM
On this website:

http://www.counterassault.com/Personal_Protection/counter_assault_personal_prote.html

There is a note under laws that says:

"California: No person shall purchase, possess, or use any pepper spray that contains more than 2.5 ounces (70.875 grams) net weight of aerosol spray. (The OC10-2F, PDF-2 and SD-2 are all 40 grams, so we can ship these items to California. Our Bear Pepper Spray is legal and registered in California.) "

So I think that an exception is made for the 10-oz bear spray because it is for bears, as you suggested.

Bruce Jensen





Wilderness forever,
Bruce Jensen
avatar Clarification
May 15, 2007 12:57PM
I had to look up what "economic poison" means. It's an obscure term for pesticide.

The following article mentions that the EPA regulates bear spray as a pesticide. It would stand to reason that the California Dept of Agriculture (or other agency) might do the same.

http://www.missoulian.com/articles/2006/09/03/news/local/news03.txt

avatar Re: $ Bear Spary 40 bucks - Going hiking - DO I NEED IT?
June 07, 2007 09:36PM
a small air horn is what i carry in my fanny pack on day hikes.
avatar Re: $ Bear Spary 40 bucks - Going hiking - DO I NEED IT?
June 07, 2007 11:22PM
forrestranger wrote:

> a small air horn is what i carry in my fanny pack on day hikes.

I've always found a simple whistle works very well and is a lot lighter.

avatar Re: $ Bear Spary 40 bucks - Going hiking - DO I NEED IT?
June 30, 2007 06:43PM
Just an additional comment. I just got back and during one of the ranger activites I asked about bear pepper spray. I was told that they're generally not a deterrent when a bear is going after food, although they work well against charging bears. I was told that even though they're irritated, they might just keep on eating if they have a food source.

Also - weapons (save utility knives) are illegal in Yosemite and pretty much all National Parks. The public carrying of pepper spray has to be approved by each park superintendent, as it is in Yellowstone and Grand Teton; I was told this is not the case in Yosemite. I never saw any store selling bear spray in Yosemite, like I'd find in every gift shop in Grand Teton or Yellowstone.

I saw a grand total of six bears on my trip in Yosemite and Sequoia/Kings Canyon over the past week and a half - a cinnamon adult male, a jet black juvenile, and a medium brown sow with three tan colored cubs. In each case they never looked to be a threat to human safety.

I posted a photo of the adult male earlier.

The juvenile bear was seen about a week ago at the Valley backpackers campground. It must have smelled all the campers cooking breakfast. It just sat on a rock while dozens of campers were looking at it. A few of us went reaching for our cameras when it decided not to stick around.

The sow with cubs was in Kings Canyon NP. I noticed some rustling and saw the mother bear with a couple of cubs (they are cute and really do look like teddy bears) on a downed giant sequoia. I remembered the warnings that approaching a cub isn't a good idea - even with black bears. The mama bear sent a third cub up a tree right next to the trail. My hiking companion wanted to turn back and use an alternate route. I was prepared to shout down the bear if it charged, but cautiously stepped back and waited for the cub in the tree to climb down and return to mom. At that point the sow didn't even wait long enough for me to take a few more photos.

avatar Re: $ Bear Spary 40 bucks - Going hiking - DO I NEED IT?
July 02, 2007 10:19AM
movingzachb wrote:

> I was in Yellowstone watching a bear come out of the woods
> towards a group of tourists. It is against the law for anyone
> in that state ( and probably California to ) to be within 100
> yards of a bear without a forest ranger present.

Yellowstone's guidelines are different than those in Yosemite. They recommend a 100 yard separation between sleeping areas and food cooking/storage locations. In Yosemite they recommend 30 feet. In Little Yosemite Valley it's nearly impossible to meet those recommendations and nobody really tries.

The 100 yards recommendation from bears doesn't apply to Yosemite. They have no strict distance rules on how close you can get to a bear although "approaching" one is not recommended. The Yellowstone rules are likely there because the danger of grizzly bears is higher than for black bears. They could probably set a different limit for black and grizzly bears in Yellowstone, although I wouldn't think most people could tell the difference.

I wouldn't sneak up upon a black bear, but I have gotten close enough to take a photo with a zoom lens after determining that it didn't find me to be a threat. I showed my photos to many rangers and naturalists, and not one said that I had gotten too close.
Re: $ Bear Spary 40 bucks - Going hiking - DO I NEED IT?
July 04, 2007 06:08PM
szalkowski >>>"If memory serves me correctly, a rigorous search of the records showed only six unprovoked Black bear attacks on humans in North America up to the time of his first edition. Unprovoked meaning excluding cases of a mother protecting her cubs or cases of gross human stupidity."


What that doesn't state is the data base of official recordings of black bear attacks was only about three decades. Historically there were many more attacks earlier in pioneer days before black bears learned to fear European man. Another issue with the database is the tendency was to only record serious reported attacks. The suspicion is there were alot more where the injuries were minor or the people managed to avert an actual physical attack by scaring the bear off or finding protection and subsequently the news never reached beyond local levels. Today of course we humans find out about such attacks more readily because of the explosion in communication and media. In other words there have been a lot more cases where bears had an intention to attack.

A couple decades ago along Frog Creek during days problem bears were dumped down in Lake Eleanor, a very aggressive and powerful looking young male black bear stalked me with determination until I showed him how talented I was at throwing rocks and yelling menacingly. Although there are a lot of easily scared black bears, a few have definitely not gone to school and learned that was proper behavior.

Last year of course there were an unusual number of black bear attacks. To read more about some changes in the mindset of those studying black bear attacks.

http://www.bears.org/pipermail/bearfolks/2000-October/000447.html

...David



Post Edited (07-04-07 20:11)



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