View Full Version : Thru-hikers feeding the bears?
I just read a little piece on trailjournals.com about some thru-hikers tossing their foodbags outside their tents when a bear made a noisy approach at Gooch Gap the other day.
Whether they know it or not, this is the worst thing they could have possibly done. Not only will the bear become more arrogant and aggresive for human food and towards hikers, the bear will eventually have to be destroyed.
Throw rocks, not Snicker bars!
It sounded to me like that was a made up story to scare someone, or at least I hope so.
There was a bear at Abingdon Gap Shelter in '01 that was well on its way to a bullet in the head. There were 30 or so people at the shelter that night (including the Boy Scout Group) but the sheer volume of hikers in no way deterred that bear. In the night, the bear actually stuck it's head inside someone's vestibule and pulled out their water-bottle to use as a chew toy. It even jumped up INTO the shelter.
When I got to Harpers Ferry shortly thereafter on a side-trip to visit my wife, I told the folks at ATC about the bear. They told me they had heard of this bear; he was an old problem with hikers because they fed the thing so much the year before.
Don't know what happened to that bear, but it sure does make me angry when I hear about people doing something so completely stupid as feeding a bear!
Yeh, you'd like to be as supportive of your fellow hikers as much as possible but let's face it ...some of them should not be allowed out of their houses. They go out hiking without a clue of how to interact with the wild, dispose of waste, leave no trace, etc. It just comes down to no respect for your environment.
In 01 I slept up on the ridge about a mile north of the shelter. The bear came into my campsite around 1 am. I made noise and he ran off. It returned around 3 am. I made noise and he/she just looked at me. I was sleeping in my hammock w/o the fly. I felt like a big food bag. Fortunately I had read that the bear was in the area from the shelter register, so I hung my food bag. Which I seldom did. He/she looked around my site not really bothered by my noises, sniffed my pack and then after about 5 minutes moseied on down the trail in the direction of the shelter.
As for feeding the bears... I saw this done in the SNP by hikers hoping to get a photo op!! :rolleyes:
Day hikers who just stepped out of SUVs ... I hope not thru-hikers.
Day hikers who just stepped out of SUVs ... I hope not thru-hikers.
I just reread the journal entry and it just said hikers, not necessarily thru-hikers.
Regardless, it wasn't a very good move.
Too bad you couldnt shoot them and claim self defense...
I heard from some hikers in the Shenandoahs that a hiker fed a bear at a shelter, then ended up spending the night on the roof of the shelter because the bear was mad that the hiker didn't have any more food and didn't react well to that at all!! DO NOT FEED THE BEARS--as stated earlier, it's not only dangerous to the hiker, it's dangerous and very bad for the bears. As stated before, a fed bear is a dead bear.
Sly, anyone who feeds a bear endangers not only themselves but everyone who encounters the bear afterwards. yes, the hikers who feed bears deserve to be shot.
I had stayed at the house of some trail maintainers in Pa. right before Delaware Water Gap. I hate to say anything bad about them since they seem like really nice people and they fed me dinner and let me stay over but......it still bugs me to this day. They talked about feeding the bears out side their house (which is only 1 mile from the trail) leftover macaroni salad. You would think that thru-hikers and trail maintainers of all people would know this is wrong. I guess they won't learn until a bear kills their child playing out in the yard.
I can top that story. I live next door to a Forrest Ranger. He has a collection of photos he has confiscated from people who go to illegal dump sites. They are pictures of children, that their parents have taken. The children are sitting on the Bears. I don't expect you to believe this, because I would never believe it, if I had not seen the pictures. I truly do not think they were doctored photos.
When I stopped at one of the waysides in Shenandoah National Park, there was a bear called Roscoe that frequented the wayside. And the manager there was feeding it. Go figure.
Last year, I was camped in a clearing adjacent to the A.T. next to the side path that goes to Plum Orchard shelter, Georgia. As I was breaking camp , a USFS "ridge runner" came down the trail about the same time as a group of hikers who had spent the night at Plum Orchard returned to the Trail. They began to talk.....and the "ridge Runner" informed them that he was "monitoring" bear activity in the area. Now, his method of "monitoring" is what continues to disturb me.His method involved nailing cans of sardines to trees at various intervals along the trail ..........then returning later to see if a bear had found it. He pointed out to the hikers that a bear had recently been here as he removed an empty can of sardines from a tree not 200 yards from where I had spent the night. Now this disturbs me for a whole bunch of reasons....not the least of which is that sardines are one of my favorite foods on the trail and I know that I had at least one can in my food bag at the time. My point is this.....does this practice constitute "monitoring" bear activity or is it actually "attracting" the bears to the
Trail? Also, does this not fall into the category of "feeding the bears human food"? Does anyone know if this is a common practice by the USFS and does this disturb anyone besides me?
Stonewall that's just plain nuts. The ridgerunner is an idiot!
That's the way I feel..........I just hope that the practice is isolated to this one individual and not reflective of general USFS actions.
If someone nailed cans of food to trees along the trail, how does he know that thru-hikers weren't eating them?
But, I must admit that the whole idea is contrary to everything that the USFS and others have been educating hikers about.
Using this technique along a popular backpacking trail in an area with a history of bear problems seems questionable, but it is a technique that has been used in other areas. In California, bears are expanding into urban areas, and this technique was used to find that a breeding pair of bears lives about 60 miles south of San Francisco.
"Fish and Game officials are convinced that the recent bear sightings are not a fluke, largely because they are keeping track of their movements through the use of "can of sardine" monitoring stations scattered about in several counties. In wilderness areas, the monitoring consists of nailing an unopened can of sardines to a post or tree."
Wouldn't you think that if the can was unopened the bears would not be able to find them? Maybe they dip the cans in peanut butter first.
When we were approaching Griz country last summer I told one of my partners that ate sardines that he may want to change his ways to be safe.
A few days later, after resupply, here he is eating sardines.
"Pappy I thought you were going to skip the sardines for a while?"
"I've been burying my cans."
I suppose that driving a nail through an un-opened can of sardines would allow the scent to escape.
TedB.........Based on your comments, it appears that this is a technique of "bear monitoring" that is in widespread use throughout the country by the USFS.........so, would it be better for me to lodge a complaint directly with the USFS or would it be better to inform the Georgia AT Club of the incident( and my feelings about putting cans of sardines so close to the trail )......and let them handle it.?
Let me clarify ..... the cans of sardines were nailed to trees 5 to t0 feet off the trail and on the back side of the tree so they weren't visible to someone who wasn't specifically looking for 'em.