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    Default Yellowstone NPS Report on Fatal Bear Attacks

    This is a long report, very worth reading, of how the NPS investigated the deaths last year of two hikers, at least one of which was a very experienced backpacker from Michigan. While it appears (but remains uncertain) that the killings were from grizzlies, the authors note that it could very possibly be consistent with black bears, although none were found in the areas involved and one of the killings appears likely caused by a sow with cubs, serving as a good reminder that blacks can cause the same kind of killings. It's also significant that one of the killings occurred right on the trail, probably while the hiker was taking a morning snack break.

    http://www.nps.gov/aboutus/foia/uplo...entsForWeb.pdf

    The Weasel
    "Thank God! there is always a Land of Beyond, For us who are true to the trail..." --- Robert Service

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    I couldn't get the link to open but from what I understand there are more black bear attacks than grizzly's. Never researached that though but have heard that on several nature/hunting type shows.
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    Registered User Juice's Avatar
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    estimates place the US Black Bear population between 339,000 and 465,000 and US Grizzly Bear population near 55,000.
    Buy the ticket, you take the ride. - Hunter S. Thompson

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    Quote Originally Posted by Juice View Post
    estimates place the US Black Bear population between 339,000 and 465,000 and US Grizzly Bear population near 55,000.
    If you don't count Alaska (or Hawaii ), the difference is probably vastly greater. Grizzly populations in the lower 48 are estimated around 1,000.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feral Bill View Post
    If you don't count Alaska (or Hawaii ), the difference is probably vastly greater. Grizzly populations in the lower 48 are estimated around 1,000.
    I've got a pretty good image of what a Hawiian Bear might look like!
    Buy the ticket, you take the ride. - Hunter S. Thompson

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    Atleast the nps dint kill the bears. Grizzly country is no joke.

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    Just tried the link and it opens.

    What is significant - and not mentioned in the ranger reports since it's not a "fact" for the investigation - is that the only disqualifier for black bears in these really terrible reports is the fact there just weren't any in the area. In other words, an attack on an experienced, informed, prudent backpacker could have been equally serious from a black bear, as recent history in GSMNP shows.

    These reports are also fascinating for the amount of information you get about "evidence" of bears, such as "day resting pads" and a lot of other things. It taught me a lot, including things that I'd seen along the AT that I didn't fully understand but now recognize as probable evidence of bears.

    Worth reading.


    The Weasel
    "Thank God! there is always a Land of Beyond, For us who are true to the trail..." --- Robert Service

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    Thanks, Weasel. Anyone who read this report to its end would have to learn something. The victim performed flawlessly, yet was attacked. He obviously did not have time to "play dead," so was finished off as he fought back. My concern is for those who may come across the presumably guilty bears in the future. I am sorry that the NPS did not (apparently) choose to do away with the bears that were evidently guilty.--Kinnickinic
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    I read the report and found no mention of bear spray. It seemed like the NPS didn't want to blame the victim, but it also seemed like this "experienced" backpacker failed to take along a basic tool of protection. No, there are no guarantees, but I heard of one study in Alaska that showed 90% effectiveness.
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    From what I've read (I've never been attacked by a bear and don't really want to become a hands-on expert) you have to treat grizzly and black bear attacks differently. If attacked by a grizzly, the best option is to play dead, cover up, roll up in a ball and protect your head with your arms and hands. Grizzlies are noted for mauling their victims to some degree but then often leave them without killing and eating them. In a black bear attack, experts say you must fight for your life, because black bears tend to kill and then eat anyone they attack. And while female bears will attack to defend their cubs, they will usually break off the attack once they think the cubs are out of danger. Rogue males are often the ones that kill humans for food.

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    Registered User SawnieRobertson's Avatar
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    I obviously need to spend today rereading the NPS report. My first ponderous reading told me that the victim was attacked from behind while sitting, eating half of a Zone bar and sipping water. (I became especially involved at that point as Zone bars and water are my energy fix until I stop for the day.) Anyway, one would have to have sufficient notice of the need for the "bear spray" to remove its protective cap, turn, aim, and let loose in the correct direction.
    Yep, even so I would want to be carrying the most effective bear spray available, but mostly I practice avoidance. It is a sad case but, as we teachers are wont to say, a "teaching opportunity."--Kinnickinic
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    No mention of bear spray does not mean the hiker did not have bear spray. The only thing that does is make one question if the hiker had bear spray. Although it seems obvious from the report that the hiker did not attempt to use bear spray, but that doesn't mean he didn't have it.

    BTW, I didn't read the entire report, so I'm not saying it's not in there, but if it isn't it should have been mentioned, even if the hiker did not have any, that should have been stated in the interest of giving a complete picture. And I'm not saying that the hiker was irresponsible for not carrying any.

    I know you're suppose to play dead with grizzlies, but to be honest I'm not sure I could do that, it just goes against everything I am. I'd poke the ****'ers eyes out -- if at all possible. If he attacked from the rear...well it's been nice knowing y'all
    "The aim of science is to make difficult things understandable in a simpler way; the aim of poetry is to state simple things in an incomprehensible way. The two are incompatible."
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    It sounds to me that Mr Wallace just happend to pick a very bad place to sit down to snack. He happend to be in an area with a high level of bear activity due to the near-by bison carcasus.

    Leasons from this incident: Pick a place to rest/snack where you can see all around you and keep a look out so a bear can't sneak up behind you. Keep your bear spray handy!
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

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    Quote Originally Posted by john gault View Post
    BTW, I didn't read the entire report, so I'm not saying it's not in there, but if it isn't it should have been mentioned, even if the hiker did not have any, that should have been stated in the interest of giving a complete picture. And I'm not saying that the hiker was irresponsible for not carrying any.
    Later in the file is a compete list of every thing found on his person, in his pack, scattered around the incident site, what was in his car, and what was at the camp site in the campground. The list goes on and on. I didn't read the whole list, but I didn't notice bear spray either.

    Personally, when I go out there this summer, I'm not going to carry bear spray either. Instead I'm going to use an air horn. Hope I never have to find out if it works or not to scare away a bear....
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

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    Quote Originally Posted by SawnieRobertson View Post
    Anyway, one would have to have sufficient notice of the need for the "bear spray" to remove its protective cap, turn, aim, and let loose in the correct direction.
    The report clearly states that Mr. Wallace had defensive wounds- he was alive and fighting back; he just had no weapons with which to do so.
    I love YNP; I love hiking in TNP.
    I will not leave the road without bear spray

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    The exhaustive list of his belongings makes the absence of bear spray conspicuous. Also, having encountered some 2 dozen bears through the years in the backcountry, I've NEVER seen one before either hearing and/or feeling it beneath my feet.

    To travel in grizzly country w/o bear spray is like hiking Mt. Washington w/o a jacket: STUPID.
    Be Prepared

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    Also of note (to me at least) is the interview of the hotel employee who said the deceased stated he was a "grizzly expert" and didn't need any bear talk.

    People often consider me paranoid, but I have taught my daughters and others who have hiked with me in grizz country to give buzzard activity a wide berth when possible, and to be extra vigilant when it is not. Also, we eat facing each other when there are two of us, and in a circle when there are more. When alone I pretty frequently "check six", and I eat with my back to a tree or boulder.....

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    I did wade through all 195 pages of the report. No mention of bear spray. Investigating rangers could easily see that many grizzly bears were active,feeding on other carcasses and resting regularly in the area. But how many of us would see or recognize the signs? The night before he died, the victim specifically told a ranger that he was a "grizzly bear expert" and didn't need the "grizzly bear talk" although she gave it to him anyway.

    Rangers and analysts suspect the man was attacked from behind. I wonder if I could sit down for a snack in the middle of bear country and never hear a bear coming until it was too late.. I wonder what those of us who want to live should do differently.

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by coffee kid View Post
    Rangers and analysts suspect the man was attacked from behind. I wonder if I could sit down for a snack in the middle of bear country and never hear a bear coming until it was too late.. I wonder what those of us who want to live should do differently.

    Yeah, it is hard to understand how anyone couldn't sense a bear sneaking up behind them until it decided to smack 'em across the back of the head. I wonder if he was hard of hearing and/or went into the woods smelling like a flower. Something must have attracted the bear(s) in the first place and then provoked the attack. Just one of those annoying little details we'll never know.

    I think the main thing to is keep your eyes and ears open. Make a little noise once in a while. Avoid using sented soaps for washing yourself and clothes. Try not to smell like something good to eat. If possible, protecting your back sounds like a really good idea. I'll have to remember that one.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

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    [QUOTE=john gault;1265805]No mention of bear spray does not mean the hiker did not have bear spray. The only thing that does is make one question if the hiker had bear spray. Although it seems obvious from the report that the hiker did not attempt to use bear spray, but that doesn't mean he didn't have it.

    BTW, I didn't read the entire report, so I'm not saying it's not in there, but if it isn't it should have been mentioned, even if the hiker did not have any, that should have been stated in the interest of giving a complete picture. And I'm not saying that the hiker was irresponsible for not carrying any.

    "No mention of bear spray" means there wasn't any. This is a NPS Law Enforcement Ranger report, akin to that of any law enforcement agency doing a forensic report. (Think CSI in the back country.) These folks are pros, trained both in back country skills as well as law enforcement. So if there was an empty (or unused, or any kind) bear spray there, it would be in the reports. And this isn't a "judgmental" report, i.e. coulda/shoulda/woulda. It is, as Sgt. Joe Friday was wont to say, "Just the facts, ma'am."

    TW
    "Thank God! there is always a Land of Beyond, For us who are true to the trail..." --- Robert Service

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