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  1. #1
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    Default First instance of a bear attacking an occupied tent on the AT?

    While reading Flatfoot's 2013 AT Journal, he writes on April 5:

    "Woke up at 7:00 am sharp when the lights came on. Someone announced pancakes were ready so everyone got up quickly. When I stepped outside into the "living area" I found two girls, Sandy and Maddie, stretched out on the flood in their bags. They said they had no where else to go. I remember meeting them the night previous at dinner. There was no more room in the hostel and all cabins were rented so they continued on in the evening an additional 3 miles up the trail and made camp. Unfortunately they slept with their food in the tent and were attacked by a bear. The area between Neel Gap and Tesnatee Gap is known for very aggressive bears. They grabbed all they could, their sleeping bags, and returned down the mountain to the hostel.

    ...

    About 2 1/2 miles up the trail I came across Sandy and Maddie returning from their previous bear ravaged campsite with their packs and what was left of their tent and other belongings. They were headed back to Mountain Crossings but I don't know if they bought more gear or called it quits. I haven't seen them since."

    I've read about attacks by grizzlies. I've read about attacks by black bears out west. I've read about black bears on the AT raiding unoccupied tents for food. But this is the first I've read about a black bear on the AT attacking an occupied tent. I'm hitting the trail on Monday and had planned to sleep with my food in an opsak, but this has me second guessing.

  2. #2

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    Why should we be surprised? A bear that looses it's fear of humans is a dangerous bear. They want our food. We don't want them that close to us. It's a problem.

  3. #3
    Registered User The Old Chief's Avatar
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    http://trailjournals.com/entry.cfm?id=406421

    This also happened the night of April 5th in the same area.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Old Chief View Post
    http://trailjournals.com/entry.cfm?id=406421

    This also happened the night of April 5th in the same area.
    Wow... that just makes my heart stop. Just reading that.....

  5. #5
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    I am glad they were not hurt, but I think we need some more info before this is entered in the record books.

    If a bear actually attacked someone in a tent, they would most likely be seriously injured. Even if the bear was not trying to hurt someone, just the act of trying to get to the food would cause some serious injury.

    So I guess what I am saying is were they actually attacked, or did the bear just poke his head in and scare the crap out of them? Still scary, but not the same as being attacked.

  6. #6

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    I've had problems with bears just north of Neels Gap in the past. I woke up from a nap to a bear sitting about ten feet from me waiting to be fed like a puppy dog! I chased it away, but it kept coming back and so I packed up and move a mile or two down the trail and didn't have any more problems.

  7. #7

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    I've said this before, but the "bear vault zone" is arbitrary. They very easily could have extended the area from Neels to Low Gap Shelter.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by max patch View Post
    I've said this before, but the "bear vault zone" is arbitrary. They very easily could have extended the area from Neels to Low Gap Shelter.
    Canisters through this area do make sense....matter of time probably.

  9. #9
    Registered User AngryGerman's Avatar
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    You would think that if you have prepped for a NOBO thru-hike the one thing I wouldn't forget to check would be bear habitats and frequently visited shelters and/or hang your food, properly, in a tree not in your tent! I just cruised through there in early FEB and some NOBO's had experiences with bears already while I walked 2184 miles to not see a single freaking bear or have one mess with my food. I even hung my food bag from my hammock at times just to see if I could entice a black bear to come and play with AG. As a matter of fact, in all the years I've been hiking on the AT I have yet to see a bear; I've seen everything else you could imagine but a measley bear, huh! Must be my scent!

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Old Chief View Post
    http://trailjournals.com/entry.cfm?id=406421

    This also happened the night of April 5th in the same area.
    I wonder how far this hot dog cart was from the incident. I also wonder what is meant when they say the people were "running" a hot dog cart. Were they charging a fee, was it free, donation, magic. Just wondering.
    "Hiking is as close to God as you can get without going to Church." - BobbyJo Sargent aka milkman Sometimes it's nice to take a long walk in THE FOG.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by aficion View Post
    Canisters through this area do make sense....matter of time probably.
    The problem is once a bear learns that "tent = convenience store" it does not matter if food is in the tent, the bear will stop in for look.

    Unfortunately the only solution at this point is to remove the bear or bears that have tents on their list of nightly stops. Sadly that probably = dead bear.

    Canisters may be an option after that to make sure more bears don't learn to equate tents with food, but for now, without removing the bear, they won't do much of anything.

    I still don't see this as an attack. Just a shopping trip.

  12. #12
    Registered User FarmerChef's Avatar
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    Sounds a bit suspect to me too. Not that I doubt they had an encounter with a bear but it doesn't seem consistent with bear behavior. He probably swatted at the tent or fly and tore it with his claws. That could be pretty frightening but wouldn't constitute an attack.
    2,000 miler. Still keepin' on keepin' on.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jalum View Post
    While reading Flatfoot's 2013 AT Journal, he writes on April 5:

    "Woke up at 7:00 am sharp when the lights came on. Someone announced pancakes were ready so everyone got up quickly. When I stepped outside into the "living area" I found two girls, Sandy and Maddie, stretched out on the flood in their bags. They said they had no where else to go. I remember meeting them the night previous at dinner. There was no more room in the hostel and all cabins were rented so they continued on in the evening an additional 3 miles up the trail and made camp. Unfortunately they slept with their food in the tent and were attacked by a bear. The area between Neel Gap and Tesnatee Gap is known for very aggressive bears. They grabbed all they could, their sleeping bags, and returned down the mountain to the hostel.

    ...

    About 2 1/2 miles up the trail I came across Sandy and Maddie returning from their previous bear ravaged campsite with their packs and what was left of their tent and other belongings. They were headed back to Mountain Crossings but I don't know if they bought more gear or called it quits. I haven't seen them since."

    I've read about attacks by grizzlies. I've read about attacks by black bears out west. I've read about black bears on the AT raiding unoccupied tents for food. But this is the first I've read about a black bear on the AT attacking an occupied tent. I'm hitting the trail on Monday and had planned to sleep with my food in an opsak, but this has me second guessing.
    We camped at White Oak Stamp on March 26th, a few days after the people posted about losing a bear bag and needing a ride back to Neels. 4 of us slept with our food and 2 hung without an instance. But this is a couple of miles north of the problem area. Sounds like the bear(s) has/have developed a taste for the resupplies from Neels. They know people have got food and probably lots of it.
    "Hiking is as close to God as you can get without going to Church." - BobbyJo Sargent aka milkman Sometimes it's nice to take a long walk in THE FOG.

  14. #14
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    Is it worth taking the risk? Why not just hang food or use a canister? This is a moot point for me since I'm hiking this spring with a Bearikade to practice packing and using my gear for the JMT later this summer. It does weigh two pounds but there is zero hassle with hanging and no worries with bears. And I don't mind the weight since I'm training for a hike where I'll have to carry lots of food weight for my last resupply. I'll be taking my Bearikade with me to SNP for my section hike. I have never seen a bear along the AT either but don't want to be greeted by one in my shelter.

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by atmilkman View Post
    I wonder how far this hot dog cart was from the incident. I also wonder what is meant when they say the people were "running" a hot dog cart. Were they charging a fee, was it free, donation, magic. Just wondering.
    The only place on the AT in GA where you can buy a hot dog is at Neels Gap and they were past that. So it either had to be a trail feed at one of the road crossings or they went into Helen or Hiawassee. Thats a good a guess as we can make.

  16. #16
    Registered User gunner76's Avatar
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    Tent with food inside ....Bear Fortune Cookie
    Hammock Hanger by choice

    Warbonnet BlackBird 1.7 dbl


    www.neusioktrail.org

    Bears love people, they say we taste just like chicken.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by bear bag hanger View Post
    I've had problems with bears just north of Neels Gap in the past. I woke up from a nap to a bear sitting about ten feet from me waiting to be fed like a puppy dog! I chased it away, but it kept coming back and so I packed up and move a mile or two down the trail and didn't have any more problems.
    Did you tell to the bear that your WhiteBlaze name is bear bag hanger?

  18. #18
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    I don't know what constitutes an "attack" by a black bear seeking food or interested in odors from a tent but THIS IS NOT THE FIRST TIME A BLACK BEAR HAS BEEN INTERESTED IN GETTING SOMETHING TO EAT FROM SOMETHING THEY WERE ATTRACTED TO INSIDE A TENT! I personally have had black bears seeking food from inside my tent AND I AM SURE IT DID NOT BEGIN WITH ME EITHER! Look at it this way. Let's say someone showed up in your living room with a piping hot pepperoni pizza and hot wings and proceeded to eat it in front of you while you were hungry. WOULD YOU BE MORE THAN A LITTLE BIT CURIOUS ABOUT GETTING A CUPPLA SLICES AND A FEW WINGS? Damn well right you would want some of that! Bears are reacting in a similar way.

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dogwood View Post
    I don't know what constitutes an "attack" by a black bear seeking food or interested in odors from a tent but THIS IS NOT THE FIRST TIME A BLACK BEAR HAS BEEN INTERESTED IN GETTING SOMETHING TO EAT FROM SOMETHING THEY WERE ATTRACTED TO INSIDE A TENT! I personally have had black bears seeking food from inside my tent AND I AM SURE IT DID NOT BEGIN WITH ME EITHER! Look at it this way. Let's say someone showed up in your living room with a piping hot pepperoni pizza and hot wings and proceeded to eat it in front of you while you were hungry. WOULD YOU BE MORE THAN A LITTLE BIT CURIOUS ABOUT GETTING A CUPPLA SLICES AND A FEW WINGS? Damn well right you would want some of that! Bears are reacting in a similar way.
    Yeah, not uncommon really, unless someone was actually attacked, which does not seem to be the case.

  20. #20
    Registered User Kookork's Avatar
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    The smelling sense of the bear is about seven times stronger than blood hound. With this much olfactory sense power it is like they have X-Ray power to scan every tent from outside and see what is in the tent from outside( like a airport security scan machine).
    If there is the left over of the food or open snack bar wrap or food in the tent and the bear is hungry enough it will try to grab a piece of the food. They are intelligent animals and by experience they know that hikers are not a direct and immediate danger to them. It is a matter of time that this type of incidents happens more and more in the future unless we hiker really start to believe that we need to hang our food far from the tent and leave nothing smelly inside a tent.

    This incident is not a bear attack to human but it can turn to it in the future.

    Holly ...., my comment is way too long to follow. Sorry.

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