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[at-l] Bear Repellent



Joe says black bears aren't as dangerous as our fears make them out to be 
while Shane and Jim O argue that it only takes one to kill you. Both are 
correct. OTOH if I allowed all the things that *might* kill me to determine 
what I did, I wouldn't do much of anything. Actually being frozen in fear 
all the time might kill me too. ;)

Black bears are a growing problem in the Adirondack High Peaks but in all 
my travels and discussions with rangers I've yet to hear of any bear ever 
attacking a human. They have learned to be very clever about stealing food 
though and as a result the use of bear proof canisters is now recommended 
here. Hanging is no longer good enough. The bears know that a rope going up 
into a tree may have food on the other end and they've figured out how to 
get it down.

There was one death (what was that? 2 years ago?) in one of the Southern 
states. A woman was found who had apparently been killed by a black bear. 
She was alone so we have no idea what happened. There are a few recorded 
cases of people being mauled by black bears. Generally speaking these were 
the result of stupid people doing stupid things around bears, occasionally 
incredibly stupid things like coaxing bears with food to get closer for 
photos. DUH! Jim O is quite correct to say that we need to respect them. I 
respect any animal that outweighs me and/or has sharp teeth even the 
domesticated ones.

Should you encounter a bear, as advised in "The Restaurant at the End of 
the Universe, DON'T PANIC! Panicking is one of those stupid things you can 
do around bears. Make yourself as large as possible by raising your arms 
over your head and shouting loudly. "GO AWAY" works although anything will 
do. Bears don't speak English anyway. Blowing a shrill whistle works fine too.

Bill Whatshisname obsessed for a whole chapter of "A Walk in the Woods" 
about the possibility of being attacked by bears but didn't even see one. 
Yeah, I know he didn't hike the whole trail but you probably won't see one 
either. If you do, count yourself lucky. Bear repellant is just extra 
weight to carry.