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Re: Bears on the Trail

>Marshall DeBerry talked about an encounter with a bear on the AT in NJ.  I
>know from time to time folks have talked about bears on the trial however, I
>don't remember anyone giving a definitive explanation of what one might do
>upon coming face to face with one of these denizens of the trial.  Since
>many live to tell the tail, is there not much danger in the meeting of human
>and bear? I seem to recall banging a pot or blowing a whistle as the
>deterrent of choice. Thanks


I have met a number of black bears (the only kind you will see in the
East), usually in the Smokey Mountains.  Most of the time, the bears will
give you a wide berth.  If they are with cubs - a potentially dangerous
situation - you should give them a wide berth, including stopping until
they move away.  If a bear is unhappy with you, she will usually show this
by barking or "chuffing".  That's a good time to retreat.  Occasionally, a
bear will have asociated people with food and become more aggressive in
approach to you.  There was a problem bear of this type last July along the
AT in the Smokeys, at Derrick Knob shelter.  This bear had discovered that
running at people while they were eating usually produced dropped food, a
tasty meal for the bear.  The bear was clearly smarter than most humans,
since despite warnings to the contrary, people kept eating outside of the
shelter, reinforcing the bear's behavior.

Generally, it is the rare black bear who will approach groups of humans,
but they are large animals, sometimes unpredictable, and you should always
be cautious in their presence.

Frank Webbe
School of Psychology
Florida Institute of Technology
Melbourne, FL 32901
407-768-8000, x8104