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Re: Preventing bear car break-ins

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Preventing bear car break-ins
June 09, 2008 01:15AM
We will be camping in the valley in 2 weeks and are reading up on all the bear safety requirements and recommendations. One question that I can't seem to find any information or answers on ... which maybe means it doesn't really matter much... but might as well ask.

With reading that bears will break into a car simply upon sight of anything resembling food or a food container ... do dark tinted windows or even putting dark material to cover the windows (blanket or something) make any positive difference? Or would it have the reverse effect, maybe even make the bears more suspicious (are they that smart??). Or no difference at all?

We will be extremely vigilant and remove EVERYTHING from the car and not even eat in the car on the (long) drive up to the park or have anything scented for at least a week prior (my husband is very concerned about the bears). Plus giving the car a good thorough vacuuming prior to arrival. But just in case we miss something ... or if a curious bear might take the old stains on our seats as spilled food (melted crayon, etc) ... would covering the windows even help? Or should we cover the seats with something (because of the stains).

Or am I overthinking all of this?? tongue sticking out smiley

Thanks for any advice!!!
Re: Preventing bear car break-ins
June 09, 2008 08:32AM
You do not have to cover the windows or the seats. Bears find food by mainly smell, not by sight. So even if you were to cover the seats or windows but still by chance had so much as a candy wrapper in the car, the bear would still smell it. So compliment yourself on a job well done by cleaning the car. Excellent prevention not to eat on the way. But you don't have to cover the windows or the seats. Overthink no more and enjoy your vacation.

avatar Re: Preventing bear car break-ins
June 09, 2008 10:45AM
beginner wrote:

> With reading that bears will break into a car simply upon sight
> of anything resembling food or a food container ... do dark
> tinted windows or even putting dark material to cover the
> windows (blanket or something) make any positive difference?
> Or would it have the reverse effect, maybe even make the bears
> more suspicious (are they that smart??). Or no difference at
> all?

I somewhat disagree a previous post. Bears can be visual. They have been known to recognize coolers, and can sometimes break into a car when they've seen a completely unused cooler that has no food smells. They have been known to completely ignore wilderness bear canisters, even if they can smell the food inside. They know there's no likely payoff and give up before even trying.

> We will be extremely vigilant and remove EVERYTHING from the
> car and not even eat in the car on the (long) drive up to the
> park or have anything scented for at least a week prior (my
> husband is very concerned about the bears). Plus giving the
> car a good thorough vacuuming prior to arrival. But just in
> case we miss something ... or if a curious bear might take the
> old stains on our seats as spilled food (melted crayon, etc)
> ... would covering the windows even help? Or should we cover
> the seats with something (because of the stains).

You need to do what you can. I think a lot of the stories have been overblown. For the most part, bears are looking for a payoff and won't go through the trouble if they don't sense there's a reasonably amount of food to be had.

> Or am I overthinking all of this?? tongue sticking out smiley

I've certainly overthought this. The basic rule is that food can't be stored in your vehicle when it's dark and bears. I've seen a ticket handed out for someone who stored "cleaning supplies" in a car overnight at the Yosemite Lodge parking lot. The bears will allegedly associate those smells with food. I was at Grant Grove (Kings Canyon NP) last year waiting for my cabin to be ready. It was 3:30 PM and I had food stored in my car, which I was going to put in my cabin. The area is known for bears that will break into cars. I asked a ranger about it, and she said I shouldn't really have to worry about it for the time being. It was plenty bright and there was a lot of foot traffic that would tend to keep the bears away.

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





Quote

How to Store Your Food...

In your car

You may store food inside your car (with windows completely closed) only during daylight hours. Do not store food in your car after dark: use a food locker. Remember to clear your car of food wrappers, crumbs in baby seats, and baby wipes. Even canned food and drinks must be removed from your car.

The Sierra black bear is generally different than black bears in other parts of North America. I remember going to Yellowstone and Grand Teton. The basic recommendation there was to store your food in a closed trunk and out of sight if you didn't have a hard-sided cabin. Some other parts of the Sierra Nevada range aren't known for bears breaking into cars. In the Cascades, bears don't typically break into cars. This is a learned behavior, which other black bears haven't learned in other parts of the continent.

Another thing is the apple orchard in the Curry Village parking lot. Some people have found their cars dented when bears climbed on their cars in order to reach some of the higher apples.

avatar Re: Preventing bear car break-ins
June 09, 2008 02:40PM
Back to the whole thing about bears and visuals. Bear often will go for packs that are unattended, even before sniffing for food odor. I was in the Valley backpackers' campground and met a kid whose pack was dragged away. Again - some bears have learned that it's useless to try and defeat bear canisters even if they do smell food.

My favorite story is about one bear that learned to recognize a particular car model and its break-in weaknesses. It would go after a specific style of GM F-body cars (Firebird/TransAm/Camaro) on sight, and became known as "Camaro Bear" until it was put down.

http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20040612/news_lz1s12outdrs.html

Quote

Camaro Bear: Name given to a Yosemite bear that one year broke into a Chevy Camaro, scored some good grub and proceeded to try to duplicate the successful binge by breaking into 27 Camaros that summer.

Re: Preventing bear car break-ins
June 09, 2008 03:13PM
Thanks for the info.
I'm going from Tuolumne Meadows to Sunrise HSC
(bear-boxes, so no prob)

Then over Clouds Rest, camp near the Half Dome Trail junction.
No bear boxes, so we plan to pack bear containers.

The next day, we'll take only a day-pack up half dome. My hiker's guide book recommends hiding the packs in some bushes.

Should I tie the bear canisters to a tree?
I suppose I should I tie the packs to a tree, too...





False zeal is against the sins of others; though he that has true zeal, exercises it chiefly against his own sins...
- J Edwards, Religious Affections
avatar Re: Preventing bear car break-ins
June 09, 2008 04:01PM
Sivert wrote:

> Thanks for the info.
> I'm going from Tuolumne Meadows to Sunrise HSC
> (bear-boxes, so no prob)

If you mean the backpackers' campground near Sunrise HSC, I understand that there aren't that many and it could be possible that there isn't available space (and/or another backpacker gets "territorial"winking smiley. I know that the bear boxes in Little Yosemite Valley can't be relied upon because there just aren't enough.

> Then over Clouds Rest, camp near the Half Dome Trail junction.
> No bear boxes, so we plan to pack bear containers.

I camped around that area last June. Saw this guy. Apparently sniffed around a neighbor's campsite and went on.





> The next day, we'll take only a day-pack up half dome. My
> hiker's guide book recommends hiding the packs in some bushes.

The usual recommendation in Yosemite is to empty the pack as much as possible and open any closures/zippers. I left my pack next to my tent. Keeping it open will allow critters to look inside and find out that there's nothing, rather than breaking/chewing into the pack and/or dragging it away. When I had a bear box at the Valley backpackers' campground, I stuffed my entire backpack into the box.

> Should I tie the bear canisters to a tree?
> I suppose I should I tie the packs to a tree, too...

Don't tie anything to a tree. Anything attached to your canister could make it easier to haul away and try to work on it where a bear has more privacy. Part of the rationale behind a bear canister is that there's nothing for a bear to grip. It should be placed on flat ground away from where it might get knocked into water or off a cliff.



Post Edited (06-09-08 16:05)
Re: Preventing bear car break-ins
June 09, 2008 07:03PM
Thanks for all the info. So I guess we'll just make sure the car's all cleaned out as well as possible and not park next to any car that is not! The other reason I was asking is we have one car with very dark tinted windows, but horrible gas mileage ... and since it's a long drive for us ... the only reason we'd take that one is if the windows make any significant difference. Probably not it sounds like.

Thanks again. This is a really great forum.
Re: Preventing bear car break-ins
July 09, 2008 06:36AM
A long time ago, I drove an MGA, a convertible sports car. It didn't have roll-up windows, but used removable plastic windows called side curtains. The doors didn't have handles. To open a door, you reached inside the hollow door and pulled a stout, rubber-coated wire.

In 1968, I drove to Yosemite with a friend. After a week in Yosemite Valley, we went to Tuolumne Meadows. It had rained along the way, so the soft top was up. We found a campsite and got out to stretch.

A large bear smelled the half gallon of milk we had sitting on the floor. She pushed right past us, lumbered up to the little car, slid the side curtain open with her paw, reached through the opening, and pulled the wire inside the door. Obviously, she knew how to get into an MG without shredding the top. She climbed into the car, sat on the seat, picked up the carton of milk, and drank it dry. Mr friend and I stood quietly, not anxious to startle the bear and have her trash my car. A few other campers saw the show and came over to watch.

When the bear had drained the milk carton, she dropped it on the floor, climbed out of the car, and ambled away.

"Ahh, that bear's not so classy, after all," said one of the observers with obvious admiration for her skills. "She didn't close the door."





Doug Parr
avatar Re: Preventing bear car break-ins
July 09, 2008 08:33PM
Hi,

When we were in the valley last week, I looked outside our tent at about 11:30 pm and saw someone looking in my car with a flashlight. I called out and it was a ranger checking for food storage violations. No problems, of course because every freaking thing with a scent was in the bear box. I always cover non scented items left in the car with a dark blanket.

On another night, I heard the ranger wake up the people in a campsite near us around the same time and tell them to move their visible cooler from their car to the bear box. The ranger waited around while they did this and then left. The people then proceeded to open the bear box and put their cooler back in the car. I could not believe it! They were very lucky nothing broke into their car!

We saw two bears in the campground in Tuolomne Meadows and one in North Pines. These sightings were in the early evening and late morning!

We also saw pictures of bear break ins at Camp 4 dated just two weeks before!

Robin

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