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Re: Bear Activity

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avatar Bear Activity
July 30, 2014 11:23AM
Recently, bears have caused significant damage to property and caused numerous incidents in wilderness areas particularly along the John Muir Trail near Little Yosemite Valley. Never leave packs unattended with food items inside, even if they are in a canister. If you plan on leaving your pack, even for a short time, pull out your canister and place away from packs.

Bears continue to be an active presence in campgrounds throughout the park including in the Tioga corridor campgrounds. Please be aware that bears can enter campsites at any time of day, so be sure to always keep food within arm’s reach and never leave food unattended. If you see a bear during your visit please report it to the Save-A-Bear Hotline at 209 372-0322.
avatar Re: Bear Activity
July 30, 2014 09:30PM
Yikes.
Re: Bear Activity
August 06, 2014 09:08PM
I meant to post this (bear information) after returning from a (great) trip roaming around the area between Tioga Rd and the north rim of Yosemite Valley.

When getting our permit at BOF entrance, we had the usual discussion with the "permit ranger". I still have no idea how they decide who needs the full Spanish Inquisition (no one expects the Spanish Inquisition) and who doesn't. We've been there so many times that we recognize many of the rangers. I can answer most questions before they are asked. (Maybe they think I'm a wise-guy?) Yet, we needed to prove our understanding of how one is to conduct oneself in the Yosemite back country. Anyway, in the course of the "do you have an approved bear canister? which one? how do you use it?" discussion, we heard the following. I'm only parroting (chickening?) what I heard:

"On the rim above Tenaya Canyon, there have been consistent reports of bear activity. Apparently a bear has learned that if a canister is found, and it is pushed off the rim into the canyon, it will break open, releasing its contents for an easy meal".

I promise, I'm not making this up. And it came from a NPS ranger wearing all the proper NPS ranger attire standing behind the counter in a NPS facility. Really.
avatar Re: Bear Activity
August 07, 2014 06:26AM
I wonder if this is the same bear that was mentioned in these reports last year, doing this at Snow Creek.
Re: Bear Activity
August 07, 2014 09:50AM
Quote
ags
(Maybe they think I'm a wise-guy?) ... Anyway, in the course of the "do you have an approved bear canister? which one? how do you use it?" discussion, we heard the following. I'm only parroting (chickening?) what I heard:

"On the rim above Tenaya Canyon, there have been consistent reports of bear activity. Apparently a bear has learned that if a canister is found, and it is pushed off the rim into the canyon, it will break open, releasing its contents for an easy meal".

I promise, I'm not making this up. And it came from a NPS ranger wearing all the proper NPS ranger attire standing behind the counter in a NPS facility. Really.
Confused...Yes, there is a bear at the Snow Creek overlook campground, (Great campsite BTW) who has learned to toss/roll bearcans over the ledge, then goes down below and collects camper-food that has spilled from broken bearcans..
You seem agitated as to how the Ranger informed you of this ongoing, food-storage situation at Snow Creek?
What words would you have liked better as to not encourage your "wise guy" type reaction?

RE: The Spanish Inquisition treatment mentioned -
Yes, it does get old and you would think that as all previous wilderness permits are displayed on their computer screen, the Rangers might cut you some slack.
Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't...still, the entire process only takes a few minutes and if that's the worst thing that happens to you all day...so be it.
Chill out! You are in Yosemite!



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/07/2014 11:48AM by markskor.
Re: Bear Activity
August 14, 2014 09:51PM
Please re-read my post. The part about "how do they (the rangers) decide who to fully question, and who not to question?" is one part.
The report of a bear demonstrating enough intelligence to know to toss a canister over the rim for a fun snack is a separate topic.

I have no problem with the ranger informing me of the bright bear. I enjoyed it, in fact. I learned something new - a good thing. Regardless of mild or full questioning, I always enjoy a chat (of varying length based upon my schedule and any other waiting behind me) with the rangers. That's how I've come to recognize them. I don't know this read as a complaint on my part, but it is not. Also, I am never, ever rude to the rangers (for many reasons, not the least of which is that I can't imagine anyone battling for that low-paying job that doesn't share a good deal of my love for the outdoors, and wilderness) despite being questioned or not. I was not being a wise-guy, but wondered if my quick answers to the almost-memorized questions was seen by the ranger as me acting like a wise-guy.

I do continue to wonder how rangers decide who to question to what extent. In this case, the person in front of me was sporting all-new equipment and didn't know much about the area, yet was only mildly questioned. I don't think it takes much to realize that I've been camping at large all over Yosemite (and beyond) for many years, and respect and treasure the opportunity to do so. It may well be that the "seasoned regulars" might be part of a profile of "this is *my* park and I know what I'm doing, I don't need any bureaucratic ranger telling me how to act" and thus causes the additional questioning. Or not - I have no idea. Consider it a rhetorical question.

We do agree on some points though:

1) Yosemite (and many other places) are a treasure and I'm always grateful to be there. I make it a point to conscientiously never take for granted the great privilege I have to be able to wonder through such a place.
2) Snow Creek overlook campground is beautiful.
Re: Bear Activity
August 16, 2014 08:27AM
ags,

As a person who has volunteered for the Forest Service for the last decade, I just wanted to share with you some observations.

Very frequently, it is the "frequent flyers" or old veterans, who are the most problematic in the backcountry. They backpacked when there was no requirement for bear cans, when it was fine to dump soapy water into lakes and streams, when it was a good idea to use your food as a pillow.

After all, they know "the truth", they are veterans, and, by God, then don't need no stinkin' Ranger to tell them how to gather wood and build their (illegal) campfire.

Seriously. You won't believe what we hear. I've not worked in the Parks, so have not had to give any lectures, but I've certainly given a lot of backcountry education.

One of the problems that we run into a lot, is in areas where there are a number of groups camping. Even if it is not permitted, we'll see veterans ignite their own campfire, and the other groups see, then follow suite, figuring it must be ok, and ESPECIALLY if they have some interaction, and the veterans let it be known that anyone can and should have a fire.

It's a problem/
Re: Bear Activity
August 24, 2014 01:59PM
Just back from a week in Emigrant. Maybe it was just what I needed for an attitude readjustment. After re-re-reading this thread, and the reply above, I just want to set things straight.

1) @Ken M: that make sense. I was wondering if exactly what you describe is part of what rangers have to contend with. The experienced folks may be as bad as (or worse than) the first-timers.

2) I can see how my original post could have been read differently than I intended. Poor attempt at humor and obscure quotes on my part, coupled with challenges of the written word without voice and facial expressions. I didn't intend to sound like I was complaining or upset at all. I don't mind answering the questions, even all of them, even every time, even if not consistently required of everyone else. I was just curious about why sometimes there are few, sometimes more.

Three new questions:

1) With bears (at least one) so smart as to toss canisters over the edge at Snow Creek, how does one protect food there? The only thing I can think of is to put the canister a long walk away from the edge. It doesn't seem possible to wedge it somewhere/somehow so that the bear can't move it, they're so strong. I'm guessing a canister wouldn't get carried, but batted along on the ground; the longer the distance and more obstacles the less likely it will become a bear snack. I'm really just curious (and still amazed at the intelligence this demonstrates bears have) - although beautiful, I'm not likely to overnight in such a heavily visited area.

2) I've theorized that the "bear problem" (actually, I wonder if it's not better considered a "human problem"winking smiley was initiated years ago when Yosemite officials would feed bears - I'm guessing that was seen as a way to increase visitation back in the day. (at least, I've read accounts of that being common practice in the 60's - along with the Glacier Point firefalls). I'm thinking that, and the higher concentration of humans (and thus association of humans and food) in Yosemite, and the prohibition of hunting, are the reason why the "bear problem" is much worse in Yosemite than just to the north in Emigrant. Anyone have other explanations about this? Is the premise correct that it isn't such a problem outside of the Yosemite area? [BTW: I brought my canister to Emigrant anyway just for peace of mind. I've been in places where rodents are an issue, and a canister offers protection that hanging doesn't. It was nice not to worry about food protection, even though there was a *lot* of bear poop and tracks, but I suppose they steer clear of people - which brings me back to my theory of why that is (or is that even true?).]

3) I've also wondered just what is the problem with the biodegradable soaps? (I'm not suggesting it's OK to use in bodies of water.) I use Camp Suds. It's made from "vegetable-derived ingredients". I have a ritual of jumping in the lake/stream to get wet; fill a 5 gallon basin with water, walk it >100 feet away, soap up and rinse off with a sponge. I don't mind that effort, I'm happy to be clean. Still, is the problem one of magnitude? When 10 people use Camp Suds in a stream it's OK, but when 100 or 1000 do it's a problem because it's changing the pH of the water? Clearly whatever vegetables are used to make Camp Suds aren't native to the area either, and it does take some time for the ingredients to biodegrade. Also, I can think of many "natural" compounds that are not good to be adding to a stream - arsenic and mercury come to mind, and they are naturally occurring. Just wondering.

Home less than a day and I already want to get back out...
avatar Re: Bear Activity
August 25, 2014 02:54PM
Quote
ags
1) With bears (at least one) so smart as to toss canisters over the edge at Snow Creek, how does one protect food there?

Just make sure someone else's canister is closer to the edge than yours... tongue sticking out smiley

Seriously, only way I can think of is to find a way to corral the canister with large rocks and downed trees and such, not a tight fit that might allow the bear to get some leverage but just enough to impede the pathway to the edge. Also, at least at Snow Creek, I heard that this bear rolled canisters off a particular spot -- doesn't do any good to send the canister tumbling down 3,000 feet, it picked a spot where the can would fall 50-100 feet and then the goodies were easily accessible. I'm not sure where that spot is, but if you find out then it should help to camp away from that spot.

Last year Chick-On and Old Dood and I saw a ranger up that way with a rifle sticking out of her pack, looking for Roller Bear. Was relieved to learn the rifle was a paint gun only.
Re: Bear Activity
August 25, 2014 05:22PM
"Roller Bear" - now that's funny. First image that crossed my mind was the women's roller derby/wrestling matches that would occasionally be on Saturday night TV. A bear on skates, with a cape and helmet, of course. smiling smiley
Re: Bear Activity
August 25, 2014 08:04PM
ags said: "I've also wondered just what is the problem with the biodegradable soaps?"

Here is an explanation from this REI page on water quality and purification.
"Soap residue contains nutriments that can spur algae growth in otherwise pristine water, and algae can spawn populations of disease-causing microorganisms. It's a problem that's on the increase, according to backcountry water researcher Robert Derlet."
Re: Bear Activity
August 25, 2014 09:35PM
Link to another website -- a recent bear escapade in the Thousand Island Lake area:

"... I got out of my tent with my headlamp on and could hear its breathing and grunting, but could not see it. I started yelling to get it to move on but no dice. So then I called for help from the many surrounding campsites that were in earshot but not eyesight, including the group above me that invited me to dinner. No response. Then I began to freak out because I could still hear its breathing. That's when I decided to take off down the trail in my socks to search for help.

At this point one can say I probably overreacted, but my adrenaline was pumping."

http://www.trailjournals.com/entry.cfm?id=471598



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/25/2014 09:38PM by KenS.
Re: Bear Activity
August 26, 2014 06:59PM
"As it turns out, the bear tore down a bear bag hung several hundred feet above my camp that had been set by the Californians with whom I ate dinner. The bear got away with a package of mayo and some toiletries and left behind an entire bag of teriyaki chicken. It then proceeded to move through other camps throughout the night, looking for additional spoils. "

"I was wondering if exactly what you describe is part of what rangers have to contend with. The experienced folks may be as bad as (or worse than) the first-timers."

Ags, the above is exactly an example of what is run into. First timers have no experience hanging food. The regulations prohibit it (in the area where this happened), and generally first timers tend to do what they should because they have outsized concern about bears.

However, experienced folks have years or decades of experience, they "know better" "they know the truth about bears", etc, etc. Occasionally, they may be actually militant and aggressive over the issue, although that is rare.

As in the description above, the bear was trained to look to hikers for food at night. Now that bear will continue to repeat that behavior, with the occasional reward acting as conditioning for repetitive behavior.

In all likelihood, they've killed this bear. it will become more aggressive until it has to be put down. Very very sad.
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