View Full Version : Bears and wildlife in SNP
Me and my brother will be hiking the AT in SNP in the end of March. From what I have read on various shelter threads bears and wildlife are almost guaranteed to be encountered. My question is are there any areas that we should completely avoid staying overnight and are there any special precautions we should take hiking through the park? What kind of activity will the wildlife have this time of year? We will be using a bearvault 450 and always store all food and anything with scent in them(toothpaste, wet wipes, hand sanitizer, etc.) and keeping them it at least 100 yards from camp at all times. I have never hiked with bear spray and not sure if it is needed but wasnt sure of what the norm was for the area and time of year. Any tips or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you all for your time.
Just hang your food bag on the poles or use a tree or boxes in some of the campgrounds. You don't need a bear vault on the AT. Don't hang your food 100 yards away, you're likely to lose track of where it is.
I doubt there will be much bear activity at that time of year. Pretty sure females with cubs will probably still be in hibernation. If there are any males out, they probably will not be moving around a whole lot looking for food. There metabolic processes haven't returned to normal, yet. That takes 2-3 weeks. I saw 14 when hiking through SNP and had no trouble with any of them. To summarize, you don't need the bear spray, hang your food on the provided poles to keep any animals from getting it, relax and enjoy your hike.
Not too many bears out at that time. For the most part they just want your food when they are out. hang you food properly and you won't have any trouble. These are just black bear and they are generally not aggressive. Bear spray definately not needed.
Bears in March? Hardly. No issue, imo. Good time to go, enjoy.
Although late March is likely too early to see the black bears in Shenandoah you just never know what with the mild weather we've been experiencing this winter.
To answer your question about storing food and black bear density in SNP , I would definitely still hang your food to keep vermins from chewing a hole in it , and why not , bear cables are at every hut / shelter inside the park.
Shenandoah has a ratio of 1 bear per square mile according to a park ranger I spoke to last summer and that means roughly 300 bear , making a bear sighting from Spring to Autumn pretty good.
Traveling down the Skyline Drive the last week of September I saw 9 bear in 40 miles , and encountered another one on the trail on the 2nd day of my hike.
Speaking about aggressive behavior , the bear I came across on my hike was literally on the trail foraging for food , would not move and the 'CLANGING" together of my hiking poles peeved him enough that he stood on his back legs and snorted at me. So best be aware that bears have become accustomed to seeing people in the park and may exhibit actions of defiance and downright aggressive behavior . I slowly backed up and gave this bear more space and became an observer while he took his time deciding to move along.
March is a little early to see bears, but not out of the question. Every bear I have seen in the park has run away from me upon noticing me. If I notice a lot of fresh scat on the trail, I just try to be more aware of my surroundings, make plenty of noise, and try not accidently end up between mama and babies. Sometimes you can smell them before you see them, similar to a big wet dog that has rolled around in crap is the best way I can describe it. Have a great hike! March is a good time for great views because the haze has not set in yet.
The bear in the SNP are like the deer in Michigan. My son and I hiked the park last summer, and whenever we saw a bear (7 of them), they took off running. Use the bear poles. Leave the bear vault and spray for when you hike in grizzly country (TOTALLY different scenario!!!!).
should you see a bear, just toss a couple of chipmunks at them.