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Grizzlies in Yellowstone and Glacier

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Grizzlies in Yellowstone and Glacier

Old 03-26-22, 04:22 PM
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jamawani 
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Grizzlies in Yellowstone and Glacier

A Montana man was killed this week just north of Yellowstone.
Most likely by a grizzly bear - probably a bear just coming out of hibernation.

https://www.newsweek.com/hiker-kille...ontana-1692162

The victim was an experienced outdoorsman.
He probably came upon the bear suddenly.
Sows are especially defensive of their cubs just after hibernation.
And all bears are ravenously hungry just coming out of hibernation.
They do eat winter kill and roadkill.

This man may have done everything right, but he was still killed
Last summer, a cyclist was killed in the small Montana community of Ovando.
It seems that her group had used poor food handling and storage techniques.

https://www.krtv.com/news/montana-an...killed-a-woman

I've lived in Wyoming and Montana for 30+ years.
I've camped - usually solo - in bear country from Wyoming to Alaska.
I am horrified reading some cyclists' journals when I see the risks they take.
Cooking in their tents because it's raining.
Eating in their tents because the mosquitos are thick.

I am actually more comfortable camping in the backcountry in Alaska than Wyoming.
Because grizzlies and other bears are still hunted there and have an innate fear of humans.
Most Yellowstone and Glacier bears have little fear of humans.

In addition, grizzly populations have increased greatly in the past 25 years.
They were nearly wiped out in the early 1970s after parks stopped allowing feeding.
The National Park Service cut them off cold turkey and they lacked foraging skills.
But now populations are such that some areas may have reached capacity.
Human/bear conflicts have increased significantly in the past 10 years.

So, let me take a moment to remind people - especially those not from the Rocky Mountains -
of a few crucial safety practices when cycling through grizzly country.

<<<>>>

A) If you plan to camp only at designated campgrounds:

1. Never. Ever. Cook or eat in your tent. Not in Wyoming. Not in Kansas. Not in New Jersey.
If you have cooked and eaten in your tent, consider getting another tent.
You may not be able to smell the peanut butter and jelly, but bears can.

2. Nearly all national park and national forest campgrounds in bear country have bear boxes.
Use them. Put everything with any odor in them immediately. Toiletries & water bottles, too.
Place your tent upwind from the area where you will be cooking.

3. Prior to arriving, try to keep food and toiletries in specific panniers.
If food items have been in all your panniers at one time or another, then put them in the bear box, too.

4. Bears are curious and may know, already, that packs and panniers often contain food.
Keep as clean of a camp as possible - day and night - so bears have little reason to check out your campsite.

5. If the people in neighboring campsites leave food and coolers out, say something to them.
Sometimes people can get defensive with you, but rangers will fine people for doing so.
Maybe use a little fibbing and say you were threatened with a $100 fine the day before.

6. Forest service and park service rangers do haze and/or remove problem bears regularly.
So, if you stay in a developed campground, you should have minimal concerns - - -
Provided you use safe camping techniques.

B) If you plan to random camp or backcountry camp -

1) Follow all of the above, plus -

2) Backcountry camping in Yellowstone and Glacier is magnificent, but challenging.
You must get a reserved backcountry campsite. Usually, some are available the morning of.
Nearly all campsites have a bear pole. Verify. And you will near 50+ feet of lightweight climbing rope.
(Which also comes in handy as a clothesline, a tarpline in case of a quick rain storm, etc.)

3) Keep a triangular camp with your tent upwind 200 yards, cooking and bear pole 200 yards apart.

4) If you are random camping on national forests - know the rules.
Random camping is prohibited in Yellowstone N.P and Glacier N.P.
Random camping is prohibited in many national forest areas adjoining national parks.
Bicycles are prohibited in wilderness areas.

5. If random camping, know how to hang your food, how to select a tree -
Or carry a bearproof cannister or ursack.
And practice hanging your packs BEFORE you head out. (Trust me.)

https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-adv...g-storage.html
https://www.princeton.edu/~oa/training/bearbag.shtml

6. Some areas may require cannisters because of poor hanging for many years.
Hanging your pack from a branch is worthless - probably too low or a bear can climb up.
The single tree tie-off is better than nothing, but bears have learned to chew through the diagonal cord.

Remember, that a jar of peanut butter is a huge calorie and fat food source for little effort.
Once bears discover human food they quickly become habituated and usually have to be destroyed.
The most dangerous bears are those looking for human food.
Don't give them the opportunity.

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Old 03-26-22, 05:05 PM
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What's your opinion on Bear Spray?
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Old 03-26-22, 06:10 PM
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Bear spray is a relatively heavy item for emergency use only.
If you are doing the GDMBR - then yes, it's smart to have.
If you are just biking thru Yellowstone or Glacier and staying at campgrounds, probably not.
(If it makes you feel better, buy a can in Missoula and give it away in Lander.)
If you plan on some backcountry hiking or overnights, then yes.
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Old 03-26-22, 07:35 PM
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A decade ago when I rode into Waterton Park, I asked the staff at the entrance what to do if I was on my bike and saw a bear. They said pull in tightly behind the car in front of me and stay near that car.

On my way out of the park, there was no car immediately in front of me. I saw up ahead a couple cars were stopped in the middle of the road, I stopped where I was. And then I saw what they were looking at. I am not sure but I think it was a black bear. My camera had a strong zoom so I was much further away than it looks like from this photo. And I had no desire to get closer.



I hung a bear bell from my top tube for when I was quietly riding down roads, but the roads were too smooth, the bell stayed silent almost all the time.

A couple months after I came home from my trip, I read that someone in Glacier had been killed by a bear. His camera was nearby. They saw a photo on the camera of a bear at distance. Next photo, the bear was closer. And the next photo even closer. The bear was really close in the last photo.
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Old 03-26-22, 10:59 PM
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Killed by a grizzly in Yellowstone in 2015. His ex-wife was a student and good friend of mine. Rode the GAP up to have dinner with her in Pittsburgh in 2019.

https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-...-killing-hiker
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Old 03-27-22, 06:10 AM
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While my wife and I were riding across Canada we were in Alberta. A ranger driving the opposite way stopped us and said there were 2 bears ahead in the bush along the road. We used our bells and sang very loud to make our presence known.
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Old 03-27-22, 07:50 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Killed by a grizzly in Yellowstone in 2015. His ex-wife was a student and good friend of mine.
I do remember. I'm very sorry.
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Old 03-27-22, 07:54 AM
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The Sheriff stopped me and would not let me go up a pass near Yellowstone. It was quite late and he said there was a momma Griz with cubs up on the road. We had a very long "discussion" but eventually I ceded to his badge.
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Old 03-27-22, 10:01 AM
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A black bear walked between the food box and our breakfast on the way down to the river. It was a pretty exciting few minutes. Luckily I was getting something out of my bar bag, and was able to reach my camera.

We were in a campground in British Columbia, Canada when the bear walked by the green food box in the left of the picture, and went through the bright spot by the far end of the shelter. It did not slow down for the food box or my wife and daughters sitting at the table eating breakfast.


It was on a mission.


Alberta-- We felt pretty safe in this campground, but they still had food storage boxes.

Last edited by Doug64; 03-27-22 at 10:09 AM.
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Old 03-27-22, 10:21 AM
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Grizzlies definitely give me pause...

Black bears seem common on rides I've done through BC. Most often it seems like they are on the road ahead and either someone lets me know or one has enough room. So it looks more like this and making enough noise causes them to scamper off.

However, on one or two occasions they've been much more intent on foraging and don't leave, e.g. the bear below was on the Cassiar and briefly looked up when I passed on the highway but then quickly went back to eating.


I don't have it confirmed, but believe there was a night when a bear got into my pannier at a campground. I was cycling from Haines across the coastal range to Haines Junction and staying at a YT provincial campground. I had seen multiple bears the day before and stayed at the campground. Unlike other campgrounds there weren't bear boxes - though there were bear-proof metal trash containers. I considered whether to put my panniers in one of the trash cans underneath the trash bag but in the end decided not to because with my luck that would happen to be the time both trash and my panniers were thrown away...

I recorded the following in my journal the next day, "Something got into my food pannier at the campground, perhaps a bear or...? Zipper was broken, interesting claw marks on an apple and the pannier strewn open with jar of peanut butter on the ground. Fortunately nothing else, and I'd been careful to avoid food in the tent and park the bike 25ft away. My panniers weren't too tightly packed so was able to shift stuff around to keep everything from falling out."

Four years before that I cycled down the Alaska Highway and remember news later that summer that someone was killed by a bear at a campground near Laird Hot Springs. It caught my attention because I had stayed at that same campground two months prior and had also seen multiple bears in the area.
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Old 03-27-22, 10:35 AM
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Back in the early 1990s when I lived in Jackson, I rode up into the continental divide country in June.
It turned out to be cold and wet and muddy - - pretty brutal. And I was solo.
I did all of the things to set up camp right, glad I did.
At 3 a.m. I heard deep grunting sounds and something very large circling my tent.
Needless to say, I was wide awake, but really, what can you do?
The next morning there were dinner-plate sized tracks in the wet dirt.
And those telltale four claw marks above them.

Yes, I know, solo camping high up in grizzly country isn't advised.
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Old 03-27-22, 07:13 PM
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mev, that is a nice bear picture.

Last edited by Doug64; 03-27-22 at 07:31 PM.
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Old 03-28-22, 04:03 AM
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If anyone looking at this thread is interested in more info on how to carry or store food in bear country, Gauvins started a good thread a year ago on bear canisters.
Bear canisters

I mentioned in that thread that I had bought an Ursack, used it this past fall on a canoe trip in Northern Minnesota (black bear, not grizzly country). I am sold on it. That said, some national parks apparently do not allow Ursacks.
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Old 03-28-22, 05:40 AM
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Besides keeping your food and cooking away from where you sleep, everyone I ever heard of who works in bear territory carries bear spray; and that includes Japan, where I live. Sad to say that almost no hikers in Japan have even heard of it. We've met bears twice: once was literally face to face 50cm away. Luckily the bear was more surprised than us and scarpered away.
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Old 03-28-22, 05:54 AM
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Its not just the wild places out west. I was visiting Northampton, MA a couple of years ago. Riding peacefully along the paved trail in the NW section of the city, a residential area, I noticed two fat kids walking the trail about 75 yards ahead. As I approached I faltered then stopped. "That's no fat kid! That's a full grown mother black bear and her cub. Eh, what do I do now?" I'm told that a mad mother bear can attain great speed very quickly if motivated. I've seen a bear at full speed crossing an interstate median strip. FAST And I still hadn't turned the bike around let along picked up the pedals and gained speed. Fortunately they wandered off the side into the brush just after I stopped. I was not getting any closer by myself. A cycling couple caught up to me and I stopped them and explained. We agreed to ride together, big, fast and noisy. We did not see the bears again.

Reminded me of the night a bear came through the Massachusetts state park campground where I was sleeping. Did not come my way as I'd kept all the good smelling things in the car trunk. Lost an hour or two of sleep though. "if I get out of the tent and wave the bicycle around over my head, will that scare the beast?" Donno.
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Old 03-28-22, 07:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Prowler View Post
Its not just the wild places out west. I was visiting Northampton, MA a couple of years ago.
Funny. I just missed seeing one in the nearby Westhampton, MA, area a few years ago, but in a more forested area. Stopped to watch a snapping turtle laying eggs. by the side of the road. A local motorist who had stopped to watch told me he had just seen a black bear about a quarter mile down the road.

Last September I was camping at Taconic State Park in Copake, NY. The next morning I continued south along the Harlem Valley Trail. Turned out a guy I know had ridden the trail the day before and had to wait for this to move along.




Personally, I have seen a least a half dozen while touring. One encounter was extremely close. A HUGE black who had raided a dumpster was staring directly at me from about 25' away as I was about to leave camp in Northwestern PA. Not the way you want to start your morning. But after about 20 seconds he realized I what a badass I am and ambled off into the brush.

Saw this bugger the next day while riding the Pine Creek Trail.



On a day off during a 2019 tour I went looking for critters up the woods of Northwest Montana. Both grizzly and black bear territory. Got lucky. I had given up and was on my way back to camp when I decided to stop and wait a bit longer. Not five minutes later he strolled out of the woods. Didn't even see me until I let out a "Yesssss!" That gave me time to fire up the camera. After checking me out for maybe a minute he continued on.


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Old 03-28-22, 07:59 AM
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Years ago I was touring through Yosemite with a friend. We put all of our food in a bear box, but left a bottle of Dr Bronners soap in a pannier on one of our bikes. Woke up in the night to a black bear pushing on our bikes, then with one swipe of the paw he cut into the pannier and pulled out the soap. Bit into it and didn’t seem to enjoy it, and turned back to the bikes and messed with them more until I yelled and the bear took off. This would’ve been a much scarier encounter had it been a grizzly.
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Old 03-28-22, 08:35 AM
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Well, we have the "Touring Pics" thread and now the "Bear Pics" thread!

I didn't have to take a bike trip in Montana to get my photo. This mom posed for me right outside my back door in NH. Two cubs are in a tree nearby. She returned the next day and started tearing up my entry steps to get to a hornet's nest. Taken in a hurry so it's a little out of focus ...



Yes pdlamb, the hornets were more of a threat than the bear!

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Old 03-28-22, 09:12 AM
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Originally Posted by BobG View Post
Well, we have the "Touring Pics" thread and now the "Bear Pics" thread!

I didn't have to take a bike trip in Montana to get my photo. This mom posed for me right outside my back door in NH. Two cubs are in a tree nearby. She returned the next day and started tearing up my entry steps to get to a hornet's nest. Taken in a hurry so it's a little out of focus ...

So, was it worth losing your steps to get rid of the hornets?
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Old 03-28-22, 01:30 PM
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We've had at least three bears that we know of come through Philly in the last 5 years. All three managed to avoid getting shot. A couple of years ago I was finishing a tour Went into the woods along a very popular trail to take a nature break before I got into the heart of the city. There was a little creek back there. Saw bear tracks in the mud.
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Old 04-06-22, 09:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Tandem Tom View Post
While my wife and I were riding across Canada we were in Alberta. A ranger driving the opposite way stopped us and said there were 2 bears ahead in the bush along the road. We used our bells and sang very loud to make our presence known.
So bells and white people singing make Bears happy?
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Old 04-06-22, 09:19 PM
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Bears along the NCR must be part of the Wine & Cheese crowd. I never see any bears.
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Old 04-08-22, 01:15 PM
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This was the picture on the front of my birthday card that was sent from a friend. Thought some of you might get a smile from the manipulated photo. How do I know it was manipulated; they don't have giant grizzly bears in the UK

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Old 04-08-22, 02:41 PM
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I do not remember where I saw this, but thought it was cute, saved it to my hard drive.



But I do not expect bears to run very fast during hibernation season. So, this might also be fake.
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Old 04-08-22, 02:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
This was the picture on the front of my birthday card that was sent from a friend. Thought some of you might get a smile from the manipulated photo. How do I know it was manipulated; they don't have giant grizzly bears in the UK
If that was the UK, why was the bicyclist on the right side (in this case, the wrong side) of the road?

That said, both the bicyclist and the bear were in focus, but the ground at the same distance from the camera as the bear was out of focus, the yellow line just behind the bear is well out of focus compared to the good focus of the bear claws. Photographers call the range that is in good focus the depth of field. I think it would have looked less manipulated if the bear was less in focus.
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