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Old 04-17-2012, 09:56 PM   #1
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Bears

Hi. Anybody on this forum live in grizzly bear country? Lee and I are heading through the Rockies and up to Alaska this summer. I'm wondering what kind of precautions we need to take beyond the obvious clean campsite. What do we need to do to secure food inside our hardside? Lee built us a great food locker in our remodel but it's not airtight and thus not odor tight. We'll have lots of dried grains and beans with us and canned foods. But we'll also have plenty of crackers, cookies, dried fruit, chocolate and nuts, along with spices and condiments like hot sauce and salad dressing. Do these need to be kept in plastic bags or bear proof containers. Don't think our little camper would keep out a determined bear. Want to take smart precautions but not sure what those should be. Thanks in advance for your input.

Courtenay
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Old 04-17-2012, 09:57 PM   #2
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Bear spray!
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Old 04-17-2012, 10:17 PM   #3
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Old 04-17-2012, 10:27 PM   #4
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Most of the campgrounds will have Bear Boxes of large size for food, grill, etc. use them and follow ranger recommendations. Dont cook IN the a-frame, pretend it is a tent for all intents and purposes.
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Old 04-17-2012, 11:10 PM   #5
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I know that the provincial campgrounds in the Alberta Rockies will actualy close some paths if a bear is close. The park rangers also set off bear bangers as well. When one is in bear country just keep a clean site. Don't leave pets outside unattended. When I am walking my dogs I make noise and have bells on my dogs collars. From what I hear if a bear hears you they usually just go the other way. If your making noise less chance of startling them. And Bear spray is a good idea. Also ask the locals. They will give better advice than I. Enjoy the Mountains. I can't get enough of them.
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Old 04-17-2012, 11:43 PM   #6
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When I did my first ever RV trip, it happened to be in AK (I know, that's not how you want to start out,) so I got the bear lecture a few times in Denali. They do make bear-proof canisters to put food in, but you'd need a lot of them. Ziplock bag, inside a drawstring bag, hang it on a line out of the bears reach. Previous posts about noise are good, too. They have poor eyesight and great sense of smell, so when the see you, you're potential dinner to them--until you shout,yell, etc...then they know something's not quite right. That might not always save you, but it helps. I also like the 44 mag suggestion! Good luck, and take pics!
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Old 04-18-2012, 01:08 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by imabmwnut View Post
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If you try to take a handgun across the boarder into Canada and get caught be prepared to go to jail, have a court hearing and say good bye to your camping trip as well as losing your gun and any chance of coming across the boarder again. It is the same for Canadians going into the US with any kind of a gun except the penalty is far more severe if a Canadian is caught entering the US with a gun.

Bear attacks are very very rare. You have a better chance of being struck by lightening. The ones that do make the news make it sound like everyone is being eaten alive.

If you are in a campground the rangers are patrolling it and chasing away any bears that might appear. If you are on your own off the beaten path in a TT or Camper, there is very little likelihood that you will have a bear knocking on your door.

But it still happens occasionally so read the pamphlets they hand out at the park gates, have bear spray with you if you plan to walk in the woods or alpine meadows and make a bit of noise before you go around a corner if you are on a path.

If you are in a tent and a bear is sniffing around it in the dark it can be a bit unsettling but if you were careful to leave all your food in the vehicle or when available, in containers or in a tree stand you will be OK.

99.99% of your bear encounters will end with the bear running away. The most dangerous is with a sow with cubs. I got between a griz and her two cubs a couple of years ago and I slowly backed away while talking to her in a soft gentle voice.

If a bear does come to sniff your camper it will be because it thinks no one is home. Bears are opportunistic. Once you make some noise it will usually take off or at least run a ways away to reassess the situation.

If you want to see lots of bears you need to head north in late May or early June when they are eating the green grass along the highways. You will see dozens of bears a day at that time. In the summer you will be lucky to see the odd one and then it is usually just before dark or sometimes early in the morning.

If you have never been through the Rockies you will be awed by the beauty and majesty of creation. If you don't sing, your heart will sing for you and every bend of the road will open a new vista even more glorious than the past one.

All the best.
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Old 04-18-2012, 06:50 AM   #8
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Bear spray is much more effective for the average person than a handgun.
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Old 04-18-2012, 08:02 AM   #9
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Bear spray is much more effective for the average person than a handgun.
Hitting something with a handgun while running away is a LOT harder than it looks on TV.

WASP spray works in a pinch. Tight high pressure stream and it burns like heck in the eyes.

If you do have pepper spray for personal defense in your camper, NEVER use that term crossing into Canada. BEAR SPRAY is allowed; Personal defense sprays are forbidden.

If they ask if you have any personal defense items in your camper the answer for pepper spray is "No, just bear spray."

Oh, and if you DO have that .44 in the camper FORGET crossing the border. Campers are now getting "screened" at some checkpoints with drive through devices similar to airport scanners. Suspect areas or items will get your camper flagged for the "Full Monty." Life will suck for a long time.
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Old 04-18-2012, 08:45 AM   #10
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Guns a definite no-no. Seems like in '09, going across in Montana, we were asked about bear spray. Wayne
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Old 04-18-2012, 09:39 AM   #11
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Bear spray is sold in almost every Kmart or Walmart here in Wyoming. They run about $40. Don't confuse the "purse" sized pepper sprays with the bear sprays. There is a big difference in size and effectiveness between the two. For $40 it is pretty cheap insurance and piece of mind.
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Old 04-18-2012, 10:10 AM   #12
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Thanks everyone for weighing in. Sounds like we need to be careful about storing aromatic foods in the trailer. Dry and canned foods mostly okay, don't you think? Already have UDAP bear spray on order and as long time tent campers we have whistles and an air horn. The big difference for us with the trailer is that we store and prepare food there, and perhaps in griz country we should rethink the cooking plans and cook outside. We never took any food into our tent and kept food locked in our motorcycle trailer parked well away from the tent; also always changed clothes and left cooking clothes in locked motorcycle trailer. Guess we'll return to some of our tent camping precautions. We'll leave Messers Smith and Wesson at home. No desire to incur border issues. Appreciate the wise council on not overblowing the risk.

Courtenay
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Old 04-18-2012, 10:38 AM   #13
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Here is some interesting reading for you. I have seen first hand that canned goods etc aren't necessarily safe. Several years ago I hunted elk east of the park boundry of Yellowstone. We had bears in camp nearly every night. They got into the canned goods and bit holes right through the cans. A bears sense of smell is unbelievable. Also don't asume that your vehicle is necessarily a safe place to store food. My dad lives in central Colorado and had the door of his Ford F-150 ripped open by a black bear to get at some food he had left in it. A bear proof container or hanging your food and utensils is the only sure bet.

Bears and Food Storage - Yosemite National Park

BWCA Can bears smell freeze-dried food? Boundary Waters Gear Forum

http://www.lwwf.org/index.php/resource-guides (read the PDF "Recreating Guide")
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Old 04-18-2012, 11:59 AM   #14
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Just remember you do not have to run faster than the bear, you just have to run faster than the person next to you......
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Old 04-18-2012, 01:06 PM   #15
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As my wife, who lived in Alaska says, the only thing that runs away from a bear is food.
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Old 04-18-2012, 02:06 PM   #16
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Sign spotted in a park in Canada:

Warning
Due to the recent frequency of human-bear encounters, the B.C. Fish and Wildlife branch is advising hikers, hunters, fishermen and any persons that use the outdoors in a recreational or work related function to take extra precautions while in the field.

We advise the outdoorsman to wear little noisy bells on clothing so as to give advance warning to any bears that might be close by so you donít take them by surprise.

We also advise anyone using the outdoors to carry pepper spray with him in case of an encounter with a bear.

Outdoorsmen should also be on the watch for fresh bear activity and be able to tell the difference between black bear feces and grizzly bear feces.

Black bear feces is smaller and contains lots of berry seeds and squirrel fur. Grizzly bear feces has bells in it and smells like pepper.
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Old 04-18-2012, 02:48 PM   #17
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I'm not sure if your getting across the boarder with the bear spay, i would strongly suggest you check into that. Here in Canada, bear spay is allowed .. only carried in a holster, or belt latch. If bear spray is pocketed .. hidden or likewise, it is considered a consealed weapon, and depending how new or keen the officer is that your dealing with .. could spell some real problems for you. Also .. go over your food lists and ensure you purchase only what you need in the USofA, and the rest in Canada, and dispose of it coming back through your boarders.
We are not weapon friendly here at all.
Nor are we wood friendly ... just 3 weeks ago I had my luggage pulled apart by our boarder police because i brought back wooden trinkets from Cuba.

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Old 04-18-2012, 03:49 PM   #18
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I prefer the throwing food in the neighbours site after they go to bed method!!

While on the trail, I adopt the take someone that is slower method!

Easy now, I'm just kidding.

I usually have my dog with me and she alerts me to many things. I have yet to encounter a bear while hiking or the like but have had one in my site. My neighbours had mini fridges outside their tents. (previously posted story). It ran away when I shone the flashlight in its eyes.
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Old 04-18-2012, 03:56 PM   #19
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Being I camped in Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, and etc...

The best advice I can give you. Do Not Put Any Food in your A Frame Camper. I would go as far as do everything you can to not prepare food or eat in your camper.

The best and safest way to store food is to place in a bear locker, your second choice is your vehicle. If it is in the vehicle put it in storage totes that lid fairly tight and place a blanket over the whole thing.

When speaking with Rangers from the NPS they informed me that bears have figured out that small campers, especially Pop Ups with fabric sides are an easy pick for food. Reason be is that there is a false since of security by the campers in comparison to the tent campers.

If you cook food, it is important to dispose of all scraps and clean all surfaces well. That is why I suggest to cook outside as much as possible, it will make your life so much easier.

Bear Spray is not an option, it is a must. I have not been to Canada so heed to the rest of the advice in regards to law, but when I am in the US I have Bear Spray (first line) and I carry my .45

Now to be honest I carry the .45 for the sole purpose that it carries 10 rounds.... I will shoot 9 at the bear to try to stop it, but in all honesty save the last one for myself when it does not work.
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Old 04-18-2012, 04:04 PM   #20
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Lee,

You mean to tell me the Aliner crowd hasn't come up with a grizzly mod yet?...
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