WhiteBlaze Pages
A Complete Appalachian Trail Guidebook.
$10 for printed copy(paperback). $6 for interactive PDF. $2 for printable PDF.
Read more here WhiteBlaze Pages Store

Page 1 of 3 1 2 3 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 44

Hybrid View

Previous Post Previous Post   Next Post Next Post
  1. #1
    Registered User ldsailor's Avatar
    Join Date
    02-25-2016
    Location
    St. Petersburg, FL
    Age
    72
    Posts
    718

    Default Another explanation for food bags being taken by bears?

    So, I have been reading all the posts about food bags being taken. Even those that have been properly hung are falling victim. Ursacks are being shredded as the bears try to get what's inside, and even some food bags protected by supposedly "odor proof" bags have been taken. I've read about this not only here but on various Facebook groups for many of the long distance trails here in the USA.

    Then I read about all the hikers who sleep with their food. This seems most prevalent with PCT hikers, but many hikers along the Colorado Trail, which I hiked last year, also are sleeping with their food. Few if any of these hikers sleeping with their food report problems.

    This has all got me to thinking. We talk about the great sense of smell bears have, but maybe there is something else going on here. Is it possible the bears are visually associating hanging bags from trees as a food source and not necessarily depending on smell? That would seem to support those hikers who profess that the best way to protect their food is to sleep with it.

    Just something to think about. Comments?
    Trail Name - Slapshot
    "One step at a time."
    Blog - www.tonysadventure.com

  2. #2

    Default

    yeah for sure, I live close to the Smokies and the park service has long used cheap test tents with motion activated game cameras to monitor aggressive behavior. I've seen the test tents get ripped to shreds with nothing in them and in most cases the tents have never had anything in them

  3. #3

    Default

    I believe that food kept in a food bag "scent proof" and kept in tent while sleeping is OK. Its what I have done forever. Unless bear cables are available or a bear box then I use it. But if you have a snickers bar in your pocket, it voids this comment. I believe that the bear still smells me and my foods presence, but my scent outweighs his curiosity. I believe this because I routinely hear bear activity outside my tent.... Heavy breathing, shadows in the moonlight, brushing up against my tent etc...not squirrels hopping around in the leaves.

    Now where this sleeping with my food is going to get me in trouble is when I come across a bear where he chooses to investigate my food source over being steered away by my scent. A problem bear.
    Trail Miles: 4,317.5 - AT Trips: 72
    AT Map 1: 2193.1 Complete 2013-2021
    AT Map 2: 270.2
    Sheltowee Trace Map: 167.0
    BMT Map: 52.7
    Pinhoti Trail Map: 31.5

  4. #4
    Is it raining yet?
    Join Date
    07-15-2004
    Location
    Kensington, MD
    Age
    45
    Posts
    1,044
    Images
    62

    Default

    Keeping your food in your tent may very well lower the chances of a bear taking your food but would seem to greatly increase your chances of having a direct encounter with a foraging bear.
    Be Prepared

  5. #5

    Default

    A "camp" bear will investigate anything in the campsite. I've had a half-full platypus reservoir, left hanging on a nearby branch, ripped open by one of these bears overnight. As for hanging, I gave that up several years ago after a bear got my bag (hung PCT) and use a bear can. I sleep a lot easier.

  6. #6

    Default

    I seem to remember reading bears have fairly poor eyesight. Spotting a bag in a tree in the dark is a stretch. Some bears in the ADK's learned to sniff out the rope holding the bag and deal with that first. Smell could lead them to the general area which food is hung, then by poking around could find the rope and break it, either on purpose or by accident. Also, you might think you have your food hung properly, but this is rarely the case.
    Follow slogoen on Instagram.

  7. #7

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    I seem to remember reading bears have fairly poor eyesight. Spotting a bag in a tree in the dark is a stretch. Some bears in the ADK's learned to sniff out the rope holding the bag and deal with that first. Smell could lead them to the general area which food is hung, then by poking around could find the rope and break it, either on purpose or by accident. Also, you might think you have your food hung properly, but this is rarely the case.

    Interesting. I was just reading that bears having poor eyesight is a myth. The below isn't where I saw that but I got a lot google results with a similar take when trying to find the article I was remembering.

    https://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cf...rticles_id=135

  8. #8
    GoldenBear's Avatar
    Join Date
    08-31-2007
    Location
    Upper Darby, PA
    Posts
    820
    Journal Entries
    62
    Images
    347

    Exclamation Bear eyesight

    I seem to remember reading bears have fairly poor eyesight
    You heard wrong.

    https://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cf...rticles_id=135

  9. #9

    Default

    Humans are walking cheese sticks to a bear black or otherwise. Thinking we should hang our food bags when we have a lb of food in our stomachs after dinner as we sleep in a tent is strange metrics. A predatory bear will eat a human no matter if the hiker is sleeping or hiking. And who hangs their food when actually hiking? Can't a bear smell the food inside our stomachs? How do we hang our stomachs?

    Random gear destruction by bears is gonna happen because they live in the woods and it is their home. Trailposts, tents, packs, boots, cars---anything human made and left in the woods may get torn apart.

    On Thanksgiving Day I woke up to a "love bite" from a black bear in my Hilleberg tent. Oops---didn't take any of my 40 lbs of food though.

    Trip 208 (110)-XL.jpg
    Luckily low on the perimeter.

    BEAR DAMAGE 006-L.jpg
    Bear Vault chewed.

    BEAR DAMAGE 004-L.jpg
    Thermarest Prolite chewed.

    TRIP 131 332-L.jpg
    Another Thermy eaten.

  10. #10
    Registered User
    Join Date
    03-10-2013
    Location
    Indiana
    Age
    58
    Posts
    475

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Tipi Walter View Post
    And who hangs their food when actually hiking?
    Love this. Although I don't presume to "know" any perfect right answer (nor would I trust one), I do have to say that I've thought about this particular point quite a bit. We always hear about bears making their bold & brazen food raids at night; we don't hear about bears taking down food bags during the day -- when they're simply hanging from a hiker's back.
    fortis fortuna adjuvat

  11. #11
    Registered User
    Join Date
    06-01-2011
    Location
    Hendricks Cty, Indiana
    Age
    66
    Posts
    905

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by TwoSpirits View Post
    Love this. Although I don't presume to "know" any perfect right answer (nor would I trust one), I do have to say that I've thought about this particular point quite a bit. We always hear about bears making their bold & brazen food raids at night; we don't hear about bears taking down food bags during the day -- when they're simply hanging from a hiker's back.
    I personally know a man who was thru-hiking the AT and -- he stopped to take a break, got out his gorp and while eating it, was hit in the back and knocked over. He turned around to see a bear running off with his bag of gorp.

  12. #12
    Registered User
    Join Date
    03-10-2013
    Location
    Indiana
    Age
    58
    Posts
    475

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Seatbelt View Post
    I personally know a man who was thru-hiking the AT and -- he stopped to take a break, got out his gorp and while eating it, was hit in the back and knocked over. He turned around to see a bear running off with his bag of gorp.
    Wow. Just...wow.
    fortis fortuna adjuvat

  13. #13
    Is it raining yet?
    Join Date
    07-15-2004
    Location
    Kensington, MD
    Age
    45
    Posts
    1,044
    Images
    62

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Seatbelt View Post
    I personally know a man who was thru-hiking the AT and -- he stopped to take a break, got out his gorp and while eating it, was hit in the back and knocked over. He turned around to see a bear running off with his bag of gorp.
    In No. Cascades NP I had a mouse pull a similar stunt. As I sat in the woods eating my GORP, nowhere near a shelter or campsite mind you, I heard something so I turned to see a mouse eating out of my GORP bag about 1' away.
    Be Prepared

  14. #14

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by BlackCloud View Post
    In No. Cascades NP I had a mouse pull a similar stunt. As I sat in the woods eating my GORP, nowhere near a shelter or campsite mind you, I heard something so I turned to see a mouse eating out of my GORP bag about 1' away.
    Dang BlackCloud, I was eagerly awaiting the part where the mouse knocked you over the head. Still a good story.

  15. #15
    Registered User theinfamousj's Avatar
    Join Date
    07-23-2007
    Location
    UNC-CH, NC
    Posts
    706
    Images
    60

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by TwoSpirits View Post
    Love this. Although I don't presume to "know" any perfect right answer (nor would I trust one), I do have to say that I've thought about this particular point quite a bit. We always hear about bears making their bold & brazen food raids at night; we don't hear about bears taking down food bags during the day -- when they're simply hanging from a hiker's back.
    When I was much younger I helped our at a black bear rehab. There, I was told that the black bears in our charge had a law of possession: that which is nearer me is mine, that which is nearer you is yours.

    Any famished bear will disregard this in order to live.

    But I found it mostly true. When we tried to get a cabbage to the bears to eat we had to bowl it more than halfway to our well fed rehab bears. Or had to leave it and walk very, very far away.

    But is it best practice to rely on this social norm of some bears? No way. I hang my food every time. But also, I don't sleep the X00 feet away from my hanging food. It is nearest to me so it is mine to a well fed bear. And for a famished bear it is far enough away that they eat the food and not my face. Also, I am only ever in black bear territory.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G890A using Tapatalk

  16. #16
    GSMNP 900 Miler rmitchell's Avatar
    Join Date
    09-13-2011
    Location
    Knoxville,Tn
    Age
    65
    Posts
    501
    Images
    4

    Default

    Another factor that I have not seen mentioned is the habit of some hikers of burning trash is fire pits and shelter fireplaces. Frequently there is partially burned foil from tuna packets' and freeze dried meals in the ashes of fire rings. No doubt this attracts bears and other scavengers to the campsites.

    Also a problem is that people throw leftover food and other non compostable items into the composting privies. I have seen damage to the bins where bears have attempted to tear into them to access the food residue and garbage. Evidently the smell of the poo is not enough to deter bears from trying to get to the food scraps.

  17. #17

    Default

    "Is it possible the bears are visually associating hanging bags from trees as a food source and not necessarily depending on smell?" I have no doubt that is happening sometimes.

    "I've seen the test tents get ripped to shreds with nothing in them and in most cases the tents have never had anything in them." Seen it myself. Bears will routinely investigate anything of interest. They are dramatically less likely to mess with human-occupied tents.

  18. #18

    Default

    Hey Colter, were you on the current season of Alone?

  19. #19

    Default

    Never mind I see you added it to your sig. I just started watching.

  20. #20
    Registered User
    Join Date
    10-17-2007
    Location
    Michigan
    Age
    62
    Posts
    4,928

    Default

    The OP has applied the "sleep with your food" rationale that has been around for years and discussed on every hiking forum ad nauseum. As Dr Tom Smith (one of the top bear biologists) puts it, the bear's desire to avoid you is greater than its desire to get your food. Bears thus learn the best ways to get unattended food (bags hanging from trees). Bears who go after tents have learned to do this from people who leave unattended food in tents. The use of visual visual cues by bears is confirmed by the use of bear canisters. Canisters reek of food odors, but once a bear learns they can't get in them, they leave them alone. People who sleep with food are teaching bears that tents are not a place to find unattended food. In an email conversation I had with Dr Smith several years ago, he confirmed that these hypotheses are consistent with bear biology. However this model has never been tested. That would require some agency to require people to keep all food in their possession at all times (with 100% compliance). However it is likely that no one will ever do this experiment, so we are stuck with multiple valid conclusions that are consistent with the data. Ultimately, Dr Smith said that while he knows bear biologists who use the "sleep with food" strategy, he does not and instead advocates for other methods of backcountry food storage, including canisters and electric fences (yes there are lightweight fencing options for backcountry use but I don't know of anyone who uses them).

Page 1 of 3 1 2 3 LastLast
++ New Posts ++

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •