What really happened in this interaction and supposed shooting of grizzlies by a hunter?

Outcome of grizzly attack a mystery, hunters urged to carry pepper spray. By John McGill. Glacier Reporter.

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

57 Responses to A weird grizzly-hunter (shooting?) story

  1. avatar Mike says:

    Wow. Very interesting story. East of Babb is pretty much the prarie. I spent a lot of time in this great area. If the story was correct, this grizzly family was out of the mountains.

    You can always count on a few “hunter kills grizzly” stories every year. The bear bait Bitterroot grizzly story was especially appalling.

    Something is not adding up in this story.

  2. Mike said,

    “Something is not adding up in this story.”

    I certainly agree!

  3. avatar Linda Hunter says:

    I have always wondered about something like this – the grizzly bluff charges a hunter and stops and turns it’s head, then looks to the hunter for an acknowledgment that they should call it a draw and the hunter, not understanding, just shoots, wounds the bear and starts a real attack. Then I have always wonder how many times a hunter sees a grizzly up close and just shoots even if the bear is being polite and pretending to graze and then the bear charges . . . maybe there are a lot of people who don’t believe in pepper spray but there is also no reason to tell the whole truth if you are the only one there. . you know the bear won’t tell it’s side of the story. And you can always put a few bullets in the front of the bear afterward . . just wondering.

  4. avatar chuck parker says:

    I just got an email from Steve Herrero confirming that there is “no published data” on the effectiveness of firearms for self defense from bears. “Field use of capsicum spray as a bear deterrent” (Herrero & Higgins, 1998) is all about bear spray–there’s no data on firearms. “Efficacy of bear deterrent spray in Alaska” (Smith, Herrero, Debruyn, Wilder 2008) is all about bear spray–there’s no data on firearms. State and federal agencies, along with the Center For Wildlife Information and the rest of the bear spray cult, have been deceiving the public and endangering hunters. Google “bear spray vs. bullets” and see the big lie on the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service “fact sheet.” They claim that research by Herrero concludes that “a person’s chance of incurring serious injury from a charging grizzly doubles when bullets are fired versus when bear spray is used.”

    Horsefeathers. If people would take the trouble to read the published research on bear spray, they’d see that it tells us bear spray can be a useful tool for non-hunters. Between Efficacy of bear spray deterrent in Alaska (72 cases) and Field use of capsicum as a bear deterrent (66 cases) there’s just one (1) case where a hunter used bear spray.

    The obvious question is, why don’t hunters use bear spray? Non-hunters and the bear spray cult respond that hunters are just red neck dolts who refuse to believe the amazing statistics on bear spray effectiveness. Hunters and firearms experts would say, bear spray just ain’t a realistic option for big game hunters who get charged after startling a nearby grizzly.

  5. avatar Wendy says:

    Two sets of cubs? I am no bear expert but I have never heard of a sow with cubs from two separate years at the same time.

    Sounds like a bear died for no good reason, although I am glad neither the man nor his son was injured.

    There may be LOTS left out of this story, but based on what is contained above, I’d like to see the following:
    Before he goes out in the woods again, this man ought to be required to take a bear behavior and identification course. I’d like to see a requirement that hunters in grizzly country carry and know how to use bear spray. Same requirement for backcountry hikers.

  6. avatar Wendy says:

    Chuck says “Hunters and firearms experts would say, bear spray just ain’t a realistic option for big game hunters who get charged after startling a nearby grizzly.”

    Hey Chuck – Can you explain what you mean? I am not a hunter but have several friends who hunt elk/deer/moose.
    What makes bear spray “…not a realistic option” for a big game hunter – in your opinion?

    I know many people who have been charged by nearby grizzlies which they accidentally startled, and all lived to tell about it. Some used bear spray and one simply screamed.

  7. avatar chuck parker says:

    Well, if you have your rifle on a sling over one shoulder and you get charged by a griz, you won’t have time to use it, so the thing to do is carry your rifle in what’s known as the 2-hand safe carry. So, you’ve got a rifle in your hands and bear spray in a hip holster when a grizzly come bursting out of the brush in full charge. How do you use bear spray when you’re holding a rifle in your hands? You’ve got a second or 2 to make your move and defend yourself. Every move you make should be something you’ve practiced so often it’s instinctive. After 5 or 10 or 30 years of hunting, after years of pointing your shotgun at a rising pheasant, flicking off the safety and shooting, after years of pointing at a spooky whitetail deer, flicking off the safety and shooting before the buck takes off, would you point your rifle at the bear, flick off the safety and pull the trigger, or . . . instinctively let go of your rifle with one hand and reach for bear spray with your free hand?

    Hunters use their rifles because it’s what they’re trained to do, and because trying to use bear spray would take more time. Time you don’t have when facing a charging grizzly.

  8. avatar chuck parker says:

    Questions for Linda Hunter: “I have always wondered about something like this – the grizzly bluff charges a hunter and stops and turns it’s head, then looks to the hunter for an acknowledgment that they should call it a draw and the hunter, not understanding, just shoots, wounds the bear and starts a real attack.”

    Same situation except it’s a hiker with bear spray. I don’t think hikers know more about the subtle nuances of bear behavior than hunters, nor do I think getting sprayed is a pleasant experience for the bears. Granted, hikers with bear spray don’t kill bears, but I’m not thrilled that they make bears miserable.

    Bluff charge? You might want to take up bluff charges with Tom Smith, Larry Aumiller, Terry Debruyn, Rick Sinnott and 30 other bear savvy people who sat in on the Alaska Interagency Bear Safety and Education Committee back in 2000 and said bear safety literature in Alaska should not include the phrase “bluff charge.”

    In Bear Attacks, Herrero says, “grizzlies do not indicate whether their charges are false or real.” It could be that grizzlies with .00000007 nanoseconds to fight or flee in response to a perceived threat from a person who encroaches on their personal space make a conscious decision to “bluff charge”–stop short of making contact–or it’s possible that when the person/people being charged stand still, their body language tells the bear, “touch me and it will cost you. I’m ready and willing to defend myself.”

    here’s an easy way to test the bluff charge theory. Run from a charging grizzly. If the bear has already made a conscious decision to “bluff charge,” your actions would not matter. Linda, would you run from a charging grizzly?

  9. avatar vicki says:

    Okay, I agree with the above comment about COY and older cubs. It doesn’t sound legit. Sows won’t breed or even come into estrus if they still have cubs, right?!. I suppose it could happen, but that many bears together sounds if-y at best.
    If the story is real, I am glad there were no human injuries.

    As far as “learning to use bear spray” come on. It takes two minutes, which is far less than the time it should take to learn to sharp shoot on the fly to defend your life against a bear.

    I have been hunting, hiking and fishing since I was old enough to walk and hold up a chipmunk .22. I’d say bear spray is far easier to learn. You just hold it out in front of you and pull the trigger. It’s spray is designed to scatter enough that it creates a shield of spray in front of the user. It is the equivelant of a chemical shotgun. It could be second nature in no time, to anyone who has ever tried it.

    I have taken several self defense courses, several firearms courses, and have shot in many combat pistol matches. I know this…no one can take your bear or pepper spray away and shoot you with it. And it is more likely to hitthe target because of it’s spray pattern than a bullet is. Most people think using a semi-auto pistol is great for self defense also, but a revolver is often said to be the best pistol for self defense, based on how it fits into the palm, and how it angles when held in a defensive position. It just goes to show you that there is a lot of info, but it is only helpful if people have it. You can have options but if people don’t have to learn about them, they will often base choices on misinformation.

    So, maybe there should be some mandates about hunter eductaion, carrying defensive equipment, and training for it’s use? I’d pay the extra six dollars a year for the training.

    This is why hunting is actually hunting. You are putting yourself in harms way, you place yourself in the food chain.

  10. avatar Mike says:

    Chuck, if you can’t figure out bear spray in two minutes you shouldn’t be allowed to carry a loaded fire arm.

  11. avatar Mike says:

    Also, while it sucks when people get mauled by bears, is it really that surprising when someone who is going out into the woods to kill things is killed instead?

    Isn’t that the way of nature?

  12. avatar SAP says:

    Here we go again . . . Ralph, could you post links to last year’s ultimately tedious threads about bear spray (I think they centered around the Vic Workman incident).

    Here’s what I had to say about the “how-do-I-use-bear-spray-when-I’m-carrying-a-rifle” question last year:

    “Maybe I’m in the minority, but I don’t actually have a round in the chamber of my rifle until I see or hear elk within range. So if I DID drop the rifle, it’s not “loaded” in the sense that most firearms safety instructors are referring to — that is, there is really no chance of accidental discharge.

    And since I don’t carry a round in the chamber, that makes bear spray the better choice for me by far.

    I’ve heard stories of extreme stress where hunters shooting dangerous game (cape buffalo, elephants, bears, big cats) have lost motor control and simply cycled the action without firing a shot.

    Would I do that? I don’t want to find out. My drill is, go for the spray. I can do that faster than I can shoulder my rifle and work the bolt.”

    OK, with that said, I agree with some of what Chuck Parker is saying. Staunch bear spray proponents (let’s stop calling them a cult, ok?) often talk as though there was a lot of data out there proving that you’ll get badly hurt if you choose a firearm as your primary defense against bear hazards.

    There are some anecdotes — notably, one Frenchy Duret north of YNP in 1922 — of people definitely getting killed by a grizzly that they had non-lethally shot. (In fact, I think Duret may be the last armed human to have been killed by a bear in the GYE).

    But is there much besides the occasional anecdote like that? Unless someone can show me hard evidence to the contrary, I think it’s a big leap to say that choosing a firearm is demonstrably more risky than choosing bear spray.

    Bear spray is a good tool, it’s easy to use, it seems to work well, and it doesn’t kill the bear. For those reasons, I choose bear spray. If you don’t trust bear spray or you don’t value bears that much, your choice will probably be different.

    A big caveat: I suspect that a lot of bears that are killed supposedly in defense of life were actually more-or-less shot on sight. Why do I think that? Because I am skeptical that there are that many guys out there who could reliably stop a charging grizzly with a scoped rifle.

    Talk to outfitters and game wardens, or see for yourselves, a lot of the hunters afield couldn’t hit a chest freezer off-hand at 100 paces in a low-stress take-your-time situation.

    If anyone wants to do a quick little project (not me — I’m going to drink beer and watch documentaries tonight!!), go through this Wikipedia list of fatal bear attacks in North America.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fatal_bear_attacks_in_North_America_by_decade

    See how many (besides Frenchy Duret) got killed after trying to defend themselves with a firearm. The answer may be surprising to all of us. NOTE: presence of a firearm does not prove that the person actually used it. Also: firearms dramatically improved around 1870, so pre-1870 incidents may not be that instructive about the efficacy of firearms.
    – – – – – – – –
    SAP,

    I think I will do that — put a link to the very long discussion of guns versus bear spray; one kind of spray versus another, etc.

    If this thread doesn’t turn up new information, I will end it and the links can be enough. Ralph Maughan. Webmaster.

  13. avatar vicki says:

    I don’t know if bear spray is really the key issue in this article. I think what bothers me most is that the article seems to be a stretch. All those bears, especially two with injuries, together should have left a good amount of evidence to track them by.
    Seems a bit odd from start to finish.
    Look, bear spray, no bear spray….nothing is better than simple precaution, but when faced with an actual attack, your best defense will be common sense. No one can sell that, or license it. Without it though, you are bear scat.

  14. avatar Mike says:

    Man that list of bear attacks is gruesome. I’m especially shocked at the grouping of attacks in Glacier and the Yellowstone area in the 80’s. Must have been a “bad batch” of bears that decade.

  15. SAP,

    I think I will do that — put a link to the very long discussion of guns versus bear spray; one kind of spray versus another, etc.

    If this thread doesn’t turn up new information, I will end it and the links can be enough.

    Note: I also added this message to SAP’s comment.

  16. avatar vicki says:

    If you consider how many millions of people visit the places where most of the attacks occured, it seems a small number.
    Gruesome, yep. But would anyone stop hiking juste because there is a risk? Or do you minimize your risk, and still camp.

  17. avatar chuck parker says:

    How’s this for new information?

    “In 96% (69 of 72) of the bear spray incidents the person’s activity at the time was reported. The largest category involved hikers (35%) followed by persons engaged in bear management activities (30%), people at their home or cabin (15%) campers in their tents (9%) people working on various outdoor jobs (4%) sport fishers (4%) a hunter stalking a wounded bear (1%)” Efficacy of bear deterrent spray in Alaska, The Journal of Wildlife Management, 72(3) p.641-2

    To ignore that quote and chant that research by Herrero concludes “a person’s chance of incurring serious injury from a charging grizzly doubles when bullets are fired versus when bear spray is used” puts you on the board of Ron Gillette’s Idaho Anti-Wolf Coalition and the George Bush Science Foundation on Global Warming.

    Sorry if the tedious facts from peer reviewed, published research on bear spray don’t jive with the 10 commandments of the bear spray cult.

  18. avatar jburnham says:

    This story references unpublished data comparing firearms vs. bear spray.
    http://www.dailyinterlake.com/articles/2008/03/30/news/news01.prt

    According to Thomas Smith, “If you take 300 incidents of guns being used in Alaska over the last 100 years, what we’ve found is that 67 percent of the time, the guns delivered,”.
    This is in contrast to the findings in “Efficacy of Bear Deterrent Spray in Alaska” which says “Of all persons carrying sprays, 98 percent were uninjured by bears in close-range encounters,”.

    “Bear spray cult” is quite a stretch. Even without published data on effectiveness of firearms, bear spray has proven effective, is easy to use, and is non-lethal. It’s not fanaticism, it just makes sense.

  19. avatar chuck parker says:

    It is a wierd story. A grizzly charges from 60 yards away and the guy has time to reach into a backpack for a .44 pistol? No way, especially if the guy happened to be wearing the backpack.

    Mike–not that I trust newspaper articles, but it does say the incident happened on a “side hill east of Babb, above the St. Mary River.” That could mean it happened on the sparsely wooded hillsides just outside of Babb and Glacier Park, not miles out onto the prarie. On the Blackfeet rez, all grizzly bears are shot on sight.

    I’m familiar with the area. I once lived in East Glacier Park, MT and coached the fighting “Bobcats” grade school basketball team. We played in Babb. The coach at the time was Russ Pannoni. I told my team we were playing Russ Pannoni and the little Babbilonians.

    I also had a few beers in the (in)famous Babb Bar on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. In The Grizzly Years, Doug Peacock mentions that drinking in the Babb Bar was far more dangrous than hiking with grizzlies in Glacier Park. I concur.

  20. avatar Mike says:

    Yeah east of Babb is the low ridge country outside of the mountains. They probably weren’t miles out, but definitely outside of the larger park and res mountains. I had no idea the Blackfeet shot grizzly bears on site. Is this official policy or just local ranchers?

  21. avatar chuck parker says:

    jburnham–thanks for noting that there’s no peer reviewed, published data on firearms. The 67% success rate for guns you mention has not been peer reviewed and published. It goes back 100 years and includes Alaskan homesteaders shooting a bear in their garden with a .22, and trappers in 1923 shooting a 700 pound grizzly with a dilipated .25/35 Winchester lever action. Incidents like this tend to skew the statistics on the effectiveness of guns. It’s not the same as big game hunters armed with modern rifles shooting at charging grizzlies they startled. SAP chooses not to hunt with a round in the chamber, which means that if he startles a nearby grizzly and it charges, he won’t have time to shoot. But many hunters, perhaps most hunters, do have a round in the chamber, safety on. This is perfectly acceptable in terms of firearm safety. For all these hunters, it’s much, much quicker and far more natural to point their rifle at a charging grizzly and shoot than to let go of their rifle with one hand and attempt to deploy bear spray with their free hand. That’s a technique that would take hours and hours of practice to master because it runs counter to every instinct hunters develop from the time they’re kids with a BB gun.

    Comparing the published stats on bear spray to unpublished data on firearms is, at best, comparing apples to oranges. If you’re carrying bear spray while hiking in Glacier Park and you get charged by a bear, of course you’re going to reach for bear spray–it’s your one and only option. You can’t carry guns in the park. Legally.

    If you’re outside the park and you’ve got a gun in your hands and bear spray in a hip holster when a nearby grizzly charges, you’d have to be insane to let go of your rifle and reach for bear spray with your free hand. This technique is not taught by the Montana, Wyoming, or Idaho fish and game departments during hunter education and/or firearm safety classes. Ask SAP.

    I hope this new information doesn’t offend the bear spray cult. I understand that bear spray is as holy, holy, holy as the Bible or the ten commandments.

  22. I thought the contradictions in this story were more interesting than pepper spray.

    That’s why I posted it.

  23. avatar chuck parker says:

    Ralph–the story does not add up. Whether a bowhunter uses bear spray or a pistol for backup, it won’t do them any good buried in a backpack because they won’t have time to use it during a sudden encounter with a nearby grizzly.

    Pistols do not have adequate power to stop a grizzly–Dirty Harrys’ fabulous .44 mag does not have power of a midwestern deer hunter’s .30/30, which nobody would recommend for self defense in grizzly country. But “high powered” pistols like to .44 mag and .454 Casull produce so much recoil and muzzle blast they’re difficult to shoot. 99.999% of all bowhunters would be better off with bear spray than a pistol.

  24. avatar sandy valencour says:

    No offense to anyone but I have been going back to babb for 40 years and lived there awhile. I have seen many grizzly across from babb on the hill as we would sit and watch elk. Have “hunted” that area for elk and saw a few grizzlies. We have never killed a grizzly. Don’t eat it so why kill it. My husband was a Blackfoot and was born in Browning. The do NOT kill them on site, only an idiot would do that as a few have tried and only wounded a sow with a cub, so they killed the cub and the sow terrorized everyone for a few nights but no one killed her. I saw 7 grizzlies in a 2 week period….not one shot. Saw a silver tip going up after sheep so we went and warned the sheep herder but we didn’t kill the bear. This idiot couldn’t have been from the area and as far as I know, no white guy can kill a grizzley so that may be why the story sucks. Most people that live there can a read a bear. I have walked those hills and mountains and never had a problem. If you go way back in then you should carry a gun for safety if you are alone. Straight across from babb above the river is woods and a clearing on top and then more woods. Have hunted that area many times up to duck lake. Beyond duck lake it is sparse but grizzlies will got there too. They can work their way around thru coolies. They will skirt babb. And my father in law worked in the babb bar and my friend owns it. It is now a supper club with great steaks. I just don’t believe his story. Natives carry guns because they always have, a just in case thing. Sometimes a horse will get hit by a car and if they can’t find the owner, they may have to kill it. Blackfeet give plenty of room and respect to the grizzley and it isn’t on anyones menu. I have never met anyone out to kill a griz. Everyone from that area hunts for winter meat and there never used to be any laws for a season. They used to hunt year around to keep food on the table. Then some fools started killing to sell meat and the natives started passing laws to protect their food source.
    If any native works in the park, they carry bear spray but don’t know of any of them that have had problems. The oldtimers don’t carry anything…
    I have been at Many Glacier watching griz and watched the idiot people running up the hillside to “greet” them. Nothing like watching dinner running at you. Usually the park rangers are close by if they know a griz is in the area and on horseback so they can chase down the idiots. These people make me so mad, because they are totally stupid and I find I root for the bear most of the time.
    I lived up by Many and had bears often. Wolves would just watch, black bears would raise hell, griz just went on through

  25. avatar sandy valencour says:

    Pannoni has a place just north of St Mary’s on the right that has nice cabins for rent. They are small but nice. I stayed there a few years back as his place is next to my x husbands house. So if you get lonesome for his company, anyone around can tell you where he lives. Can’t remember the name of the cabins but it is way before you get to Sisters cafe. By all means go to the Babb Bar Supper Club. Bob Burns used to have one of the best cooks in 13 states. It is decorated inside with logs and history from his wife Charlene. Since I am in Washington state, it was the best cheapest meal I have had in a long time. I had the steak for 2 meals.
    Oh and I heard the berries are scarce this year in the mountains. I know we don’t have many and we have black bears come right in town north of Seattle , east and south of Seattle hitting bird feeders. They are bringing in cubs with them. I called home and they told me about the berries as I always ask. Fishing isn’t too hot either so maybe the bears are going farther looking for food before winter. Didn’t hear about anyone losing cattle to bears but could have taken some sheep. Sheepherders aren’t too chatty nor come into babb often

  26. avatar Linda Hunter says:

    Leave the computer for a while and look what happens. Why is pepper spray such a hot issue? Chuck you asked me way back in the thread if I would run from a charging grizzly. In all my close up work around brown/grizzly bears I have been able to keep them from having to charge me. . but I was charged several times before I learned to as Sandy says above to “read a bear”. The times I have been charged I stood still. I don’t think I would use pepper spray if a bear charged me during the first charge. I would stand my ground and watch, if it came the second time I would use pepper spray and if I had a gun in my hand instead I would use it then, on the second time. I really don’t get this “pepper spray” cult thing. What it comes down to is not pepper spray or gun but being able to “read a bear” and not getting charged in the first place.

  27. avatar caleb says:

    The only real reason for a person to carry a gun is to defend themselves against other people. This guy just wanted to shoot a grizzly and make it sound like he was a hero and did it legally.

  28. avatar Save bears says:

    Caleb,

    I would have to say that is a bit of a stretch, I doubt he would put his young son in harms way so he could shoot a grizzly bear…

  29. avatar caleb says:

    A lot of people in Wyoming are stupid and can’t comprehend things like that. I know because live here and see them every day.

  30. avatar Save bears says:

    And a lot of people in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, think they know it all and are smarter than most people!

  31. avatar chuck parker says:

    Alaskans are much smarter about bears than “outsiders” from Wyoming, Montna, and Idaho–I know because when I moved from Wyoming to Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska, I instantly became a cheechako and an outsider who didn’t know diddly squat about bears compared to the average CPA who never left the suburbs of Juneau, the state capital of Alaska where governer Sarah Palin does not reside. My only compensation was that if I stood on my tiptoes and closed my eyes, I could see 1100 miles away to Russia, and this made me an expert on foreign affairs.

  32. avatar Ryan says:

    I have spent a fair bit of time in bear country over the years, been bluff charged a couple of times. Bears are pretty prediciable, and I predicted a couple of years ago that there would be a bear attack at the russian river on the kenai. I was there the night before and got charged by an irate sow, I stood my ground but was still 99% sure she was going to maul me. She bluff charged once and I climbed a tree when she turned. I sat in a tree for 2 hours waiting for her to leave. She tore someones face off the next night. From that day on I have carried a short barreled shotgun with slugs and buckshot when I feel the situation warrants it when fishing in AK. The same problems are faced in the lower 48 with bears that have little fear of humans. I personally dont carry bear spray as I have fears with its effectiveness in high winds. As for the shotgun, I know I’m deadly with it. Many years of bird hunting and competition shooting make it second nature for me to swing it.

    As for this idiot, who knows as none of us were there. Remember that most people do not have any expirience with bears or deterrants.

    I’ve seen this one before, it seems legit.

    http://gothunts.com/2008/10/07/grizzly-attacks-wyoming-bowhunter/

    On a side note I shot a cougar at 4 steps coming at me with my rifle 10 years ago in celatchie prarie wa. It was the scariest expirience of my life. Cats tend to scare me more than bears.

  33. avatar Linda Hunter says:

    “He tried to shoo it away but it proceeded toward him. He went behind a tree and the bear kept coming, so he took off on his ‘death run’ down hill towards his dad.”

    Ryan does this kind of reaction to bears permeate the hunter community? I would say they need education about bears in the worst way. Obviously you know that since you had a proper reaction to the sow on the Russian river. But isn’t there any motivation in the hunting community to reinforce the basic rule about not running from a bear? In the article in question above that Ralph posted what are we to make of the description of the hunter “backpeddaling” so that he tripped over his son.

  34. avatar chuck parker says:

    We all know you should never run from a bear, but when facing a charging grizzly or a nearby bear, both hikers and hunters have been known to panic and run. You can’t fault people for how they react. It’s easy to tell people what to do, but not many folks get on the job training that gives them real world training for such a high stress situation. We’re not all bear whisperers or Blackfeet medicine men who claim we can “read” bears.

  35. avatar Linda Hunter says:

    OK Chuck you are right in defining the problem very well. . what I hope is that we can give hikers, hunters and people who live in newly built neighborhoods in bear country the education they need to deal with bears. I know it is an instinct to run . . but I think people are smarter than we give them credit for and can learn. . I taught lots of guides who had never seen bears to do it and now I think we can teach other outdoor people.

  36. avatar Ryan says:

    Linda,
    The only way to get bear expirience is to spend time with them. I have been fortunate enough to spend a week in brooks camp, several years on the upper kenai (there are alot of bears there) and in the bush whether it be hunting, hiking, or fishing.

    As for the kid running, your never going to stop youthful inexpirience. I have been very lucky to meet some of the most bear savy people on the planet. (Kennan Ward camped next to us a Brooks Camp) They helped to instill the proper respect and practices in me at a very young age. As for teaching the vast majority of people (all user groups) it will be a stretch as most if any spend alot of time in bear country. I think teaching guides and teaching someone who is unfamiliar with the woods are 2 completely different things. They will generally fall into the I’ll kill that bastard category or the I’m so scared what should I do category. Having walked up the russian many late nights with tourists from all over the nation, watching there reactions to encounters was truly eye opening. From crying at the sight of a bear 200 yards off, to some idiot from texas who pulled out his fillet knife and told me not to worry. I have seen much of the best and the worst in bear country and unfortunately the worst usually shines out. If you look at alaskas laws and bear incidents you will see a pattern of responsibility by many of its residents. I was on a deer hunting trip on Kodiak about 15 years ago and a hunter in our group had his deer taken by a grizzly. On certain parts of the island, the bears are conditioned to the sound of a shot meaning a meal. The guy in our group did the right thing and gave up the deer while still holding his ground. 2 warning shots did little to discourage the bear, but marty knew what the bear wanted and let him have the deer. On the same note I have seen tourists flee from bears holding a stringer of salmon. (i personally throw mine in the river if a bear is coming as to not give the animal a reward for agression). My poin is that only expirience will give most users the skills to deal with grizzlys.

  37. avatar chuck parker says:

    Ryan–Alaskans are generally ignorant/arrogant yahoos when it comes to bears. Point in case: This summer, a trail runner in the city of Anchorage–Bicentennial Park–had a dust off with a grizzly. No surprise given that a stream filled with spawning salmon goes through the park. Two weeks later, a 15 year old girl gets nailed by a grizzly during a 24 hour mountain bike race sponsered by the Arctic Bicycle Club. Yep, them bear savvy Alaskans had kids racing on mountain bikes at night on a narrow, brush choked trail next to a salmon spawning stream. But wait, there’s more. A few weeks later some dunderhead goes trail running and gets chased by a grizzly. A week or two later, another brilliant trail runner gets put in the hospital by a bear. A sow with cubs has been involved in several incidents. Of course there could be 5 different sows with cubs in the area, but the mountain bikers and trail runners whine so long and loud the Alaska Dept. of Fish & Game forces a biologist to go out an kill a bear. He kills a sow. The cubs get sent to a zoo. DNA testing shows it was an innocent sow. Some pattern of responsibility.

    Former ADFG biologist Sterling Miller (he’s now a senior scientist for the National Wildlife Federation in Missoula) did a study that showed every time a bear in Alaska injures a human in self defense, there’s a spike in the number of bears killed “in defense of life or property.”

    The residents of Anchorage and Juneau refuse to take care of garbage and food that attracts bears, and their irresponsible behavior kills dozens of bears every year.

  38. avatar Ryan says:

    Chuck,
    Thats all near downtown anchorage.. Not an area known for bear attacks until recently. There are idiots in every state, I would still say that the average alaskan, although strange has more bear understanding than most who have never seen one.
    Sterling miller perfectly illustrated the mob affect.. One muslim bombs a building all muslims are suspect for a while. I have never lived in Anchorage or Jenau, but a large majority of residents are transfers from outside AK. Should one be forced to give up there daily life because bears are present?
    IMHO, they should have relocated all of the bears within anchorage city limits as bears and humans do not cohabitate well.

  39. avatar Mike says:

    ++OK Chuck you are right in defining the problem very well. . what I hope is that we can give hikers, hunters and people who live in newly built neighborhoods in bear country++

    How about people stop building homes in grizz country? That would be the best solution.

    People tend to turn wild places into not wild places eventually.

  40. avatar JB says:

    “IMHO, they should have relocated all of the bears within anchorage city limits as bears and humans do not cohabitate well.”

    Ryan: Using this logic we should relocate (or kill) all of the white-tailed deer that live in urban and suburban areas as they cause far more damage and many more deaths. IMHO, living in Alaska means living in proximity of animals that can kill you; wildlife personnel should only become involved when problems arise (i.e. food conditioned animals or attacks).

  41. avatar Ryan says:

    “Ryan: Using this logic we should relocate (or kill) all of the white-tailed deer that live in urban and suburban areas as they cause far more damage and many more deaths. IMHO, living in Alaska means living in proximity of animals that can kill you; wildlife personnel should only become involved when problems arise (i.e. food conditioned animals or attacks).”

    Thats what you get when you have habituated Brown Bears and Black bears living in a large metropolitan area. BTW, they do remove whitetail deer in many urban areas.

  42. avatar Mike says:

    I live in an urban area with a program that does remove deer.
    There are around 800,000 deer in the state of Illinois. The urban area of Chicagoland is about 1/14th of the state, and has ten million people.

    The problem is not the deer. The problem is too many people.

  43. avatar chuck parker says:

    Ryan–Habituation and food conditioning are not the same thing. Many bears in Anchorage are food conditioned–they’re accustomed to getting garbage and other food from dolts and yahoos. Few bears, including the bears likely responsible for injuring people this summer, are habituated–used to being around people. They stealth around. They try to avoid people. They’re rarely seen. But trail runners, mountain bikers, and other dunderheads make it difficult for the bears to avoid them.

  44. avatar JB says:

    “Thats what you get when you have habituated Brown Bears and Black bears living in a large metropolitan area. BTW, they do remove whitetail deer in many urban areas.”

    Agreed. You are likely to have some attacks and deaths when you live close to large carnivores (or omnivores). These can be minimized by preventing food-conditioning and using aversive conditioning and removal, where there is a legitimate risk. What I objected to was your use of the word “all.” I don’t think we should remove ALL [insert species] from urban areas just because they can sometimes cause problems. Our society has become far to coddled and unwilling to accept risk.

  45. avatar Ryan says:

    Ryan–Habituation and food conditioning are not the same thing. Many bears in Anchorage are food conditioned–they’re accustomed to getting garbage and other food from dolts and yahoos. Few bears, including the bears likely responsible for injuring people this summer, are habituated–used to being around people. They stealth around. They try to avoid people. They’re rarely seen. But trail runners, mountain bikers, and other dunderheads make it difficult for the bears to avoid them.

    Chuck,
    The point is that they are in a park in a major metropolitan area. If the dunderheads were riding in the bush, it would be a different situation. I have spent countless hours and days in the proximity of brown bears and from my expiriences I don’t feel that its fair to either species to put them in that situation. A sow with cubs is fine for one or two interactions with people, but repeated interactions create stress on the animals ultimately resulting in a bad situation. (thats what happened on the russian river and in Anchorage IMHO)

  46. avatar Ryan says:

    JB,

    Thats a lofty goal, but the issue training 500K people and keeping them vigilent. I agree that some bears will adapt and survive, but there displaced offspring will cause trouble in many cases.
    In another case, look at wolves on Elmandorf that were harassing hikers and killing dogs.. Not a Good mix IMHO. Honestly, removing those animals would be a better situation than allowing the situation to occur because of the bad press it creates. Being on the other side of the equation and seeing the stories used as propaganda, removing a few wolves and bears to prevent situations as compared to letting the stories of vicious grizzlies and wolves terrorizing a city is better for the species as a whole. When the average housewife (sorry viki) reads the stories the paranoia ensues.

  47. avatar JB says:

    Ryan, I don’t really disagree with anything in your reply; however, it doesn’t address my original criticism. The fact is that deer kill far more people than predators do, should we seek to remove all deer from urban and suburban areas, as well? (I know we remove some deer from urban areas and agree with this policy, but nobody–as far as I know–has suggested removing all deer). What about predators living in “wild” areas along the urban fringe? Should we remove coyotes from Cuyahoga Valley National Park because coyotes sometimes attack and kill children? I guess we should remove skunks, raccoons, and opossum as well, in order to prevent the risk of rabies. While were at it, we should probably get rid of all domestic dogs, because they kill far more people than any wildlife. Where does it end? When is the world safe enough?

    Sorry, it’s unfair to throw these questions at you, as this goes well beyond your original point. My point is that removing predators from semi-urban areas is not rational, given the associated risks. The only justification is that we fear death by predator more than the many other things that kill us more frequently (which generally just ignore).

  48. avatar JB says:

    Sorry, I should’ve said “which we generally just ignore”.

  49. avatar chuck parker says:

    Ryan–“A sow with cubs is fine for one or two interactions with people, but repeated interactions create stress on the animal.” Fine, you be the first to encroach on the personal space of a sow with cubs and force her to fight or flee. That’s a game or Russian roulette I don’t want to play whether the interaction occurs in Anchorage, Denali Nat’l Park, or Yellowstone.

  50. avatar Ryan says:

    “Fine, you be the first to encroach on the personal space of a sow with cubs and force her to fight or flee. That’s a game or Russian roulette I don’t want to play whether the interaction occurs in Anchorage, Denali Nat’l Park, or Yellowstone.”

    So then should we just not visit these places, or should we limit the bears in areas where there is a high probability of these interactions? The truth of the matter is there is no way to know whether a sow is stressed or not or been messed with until your in the situation. Unfortunately many of these situations have no warning.

  51. avatar chuck parker says:

    Ryan–Bear populations in Yellowstone, Denali, and Anchorage, Alaska’s Bicentennial Park should not be “limited” by hunting, trapping, or Sarah Palin style slaughtering from airplanes and helicopters. People should visit these places, taking normal, common sense precations to avoid bears. If something goes wrong, live with it. If you can’t live with the risk, don’t go there in the 1st place. Try Topeka, Kansas or Yuma, Arizona instead. No bears to worry about there.

    Let me try to explain “stressed” bears. At 3am, a sow grizzly and her cubs bed down in thick brush near a trail in Bicentennial Park. They’re not stressed. A 6am a trail runner practically runs into the bears. The trail runner is just 30 ft away, well inside the bear’s personal space. Fight or flee? The sow is stressed. It doesn’t take 2 runners or 10 runners going by before the bear gets stressed; stress happens the instant someone gets inside the bear’s personal space.

  52. avatar Ryan says:

    Chuck,

    Your diggin here, Denali and Yellowstone have nothing to do with Bicentennial park. 2 are more reomote wilderness parks not located within the CITY LIMITS of a major metropolitan area. I honestly believe opinions like yours are what causes many issues and back lash towards enviromentally minded people. I have cross country skied in Bicentennial park, its there for people to use much like grand central park in NY. If you want to close a major park for access to protect a few bears, the backlash would not be a something you would want to be a part of.

  53. avatar Ryan says:

    To add to that, in yellowstone, DNP, and other wild areas, bears are expected.. Not as much in a major metropolitan park.

  54. avatar chuck parker says:

    Ryan–Bicentennial is a city park in a major metropolitan area is almost as bad as you can see Russia from Alaska. C’mon. Bicentennial Park ain’t exactly in downtown Anchorage. It’s a couple thousand acre city park on the far eastern border of the city, adjacent to 600,000 acre Chugach State Park, and from Chugach State Park, it’s about 40 miles as the crow flies to Valdez. Nothing but a whole lot of wild country in between. No surprise that bears come down out of Chugach State Park and the mountains to feast on all the salmon and garbage they easily find in Los Anchorage.

  55. avatar Ryan says:

    Chuck,

    You can see russia from Alaska in certain places, hell you can ride a snowmobile there in winter. You should look at a map. I fail to see your point, Its in city limits and it is a major metropolitan park. In Alaska there is a whole lot of wild country every where you go. So let me ask you this, then where should people live if bears are in Anchorage proper? Where should they play at?

  56. avatar chuck parker says:

    Ryan–people are free to “play” in Bicentennial Park, they just need to realize it’s not a playground; the grizzly bears that reside in Bicentennail Park are not toys. They’re not playground equipment. They’re not safe to play with.

    I’ve actually seen Russia from Alaska–after flying 500 air miles from Anchorage to Nome, and then another 200 air miles from Nome to Gambell on St. Lawrence Island in the Bering Strait. From Gambell (pop.300), I could see the coast of Russia just 35 miles away.

    So it’s not like Sarah Palin and the 300,000 urbanites living in Los Anchorage wake up in the morning and wave at their neighbors in Alaska. If you sent 10,000 snowmobilers from Los Anchorage to Nome, I doubt if 100 would make it. And it sent the 100 snowmobilers who survived across the 235 miles of treacherous pack ice between Nome and Russia, I doubt if 10 would make it.

  57. avatar Ryan says:

    “Alaskans are generally ignorant/arrogant yahoos when it comes to bears. Point in case: This summer, a trail runner in the city of Anchorage–Bicentennial Park–had a dust off with a grizzly. No surprise given that a stream filled with spawning salmon goes through the park. Two weeks later, a 15 year old girl gets nailed by a grizzly during a 24 hour mountain bike race sponsered by the Arctic Bicycle Club. Yep, them bear savvy Alaskans had kids racing on mountain bikes at night on a narrow, brush choked trail next to a salmon spawning stream. But wait, there’s more. A few weeks later some dunderhead goes trail running and gets chased by a grizzly. A week or two later, another brilliant trail runner gets put in the hospital by a bear. A sow with cubs has been involved in several incidents.”

    Were these aforementioned dunderheads trying to play with them as you assert? They were generally minding there own business not looking for an interaction with a bear but yet they still got one. My point is that bears and people in city limits do not mix well.

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‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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