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Bear proof? Think again!


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Years ago, a friend of mine returned from to her backcountry campsite to find a black bear with a cub on its shoulders, and a second cub on its shoulders, tugging away at her food stash, which was suspended from a rope about 7 or 8 feet above the ground.

Bears can be experts at finding food. A bear got into my backpack once whie I left it unattended for maybe 10 minutes , and did a masterful job tearing into just those compartments where there was food,neatly opening packs of Swiss Miss, and extracting the contacts; great tongue work.

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Years ago, four of us took off for a long trip in the central sierra (where the bears do their advanced studies of people). Our methods were fully 15 years out of date, being counterbalancing bags of food over either thin branches far from tree trunks, or across ropes between trees.

We spent our first night being assaulted by a family of bears, hanging, and re-hanging our food a couple of times during the night as the bears took Kamakazi falls to break off thin branches and fall 30' to the ground with the food.

We hiked out to re-stock, and mentioned this to the rangers. They said that (in that valley at that time), the only way to keep your food was to sleep on top of it and throw rocks all night. They were busy that season taking down all the wires between trees, since the bears had started chasing people around to keep them busy while the cubs walked across the wires to get the food (circus time?). They have since placed steel lockboxes in cement bunkers at regular intervals along the more popular trails through that part of the sierra.

Last summer when I was hiking in the sierra, I saw many signs at trailheads posting that it was illegal to carry food backpacking in anything but "bear-cans", and it was also illegal to leave food in your car.

I believe the photo.

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Had a similar situation while backpacking in the Adirondacks years ago. After a very long day backpacking, we thought we had found the "perfect" branch to hang the food from. Heard a thud (a bear falling to the ground) in the middle of the night and were left with instant rice and dog food the next morning. We had little choice but to hike out (after eating the rice and feeding the dogs).

While paddling in Glacier Bay, Alaska we were given "bear-proof canisters" that fit in the kayaks. They had to be stored far from the tent. All cooking, eating, food prep, tooth brushing, etc was done well below high tide line and again well away from the tent. Fortunately, we did not encounter any grizzlies, but one of the potential camping beaches was "closed" due to a human/bear encounter. Unfortunately, it's often true that "a fed bear is a dead bear" and even well intentioned people can be outsmarted by these guys.

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