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[at-l] re: Bear attack in northern BC

Just to clarify (I hope) a few things:

  The park where the attack occurred is at Liard Hot Springs in northern
British Columbia on the Alaska Highway.  It is a very popular stop on the drive
up the highway, especially because it comes right after the least improved, and
therefore most beautiful section of the Alaska Highway.  There is a feeling of
being in very wild and remote country with the hot springs being a kind of
oasis in which to soak away one's worries.  From the parking lot, it is roughly
a 1/2 mile on a boardwalk through misty, steaming swamp to the developed hot
springs area: developed in this case is simply a dug out pool (not concrete)
with a wooden deck and changing area.  The quieter and deeper pool is located
about another 100 yards away via a brushy trail through the forest.  It is not
unusual for some people to carry food and drinks (especially alcohol) back to
the springs with them, though there are signs posted against doing that, due to
bear problems.  Furthermore, there are picnic tables in the parking lot, a
campground next to it, a lodge/gas station/restaurant across the highway from
the entrance.  In the days before the highway was paved, a trip to the hot
springs was almost mandantory to wash all the dust off of one's body; if
anything, it is more heavily used than ever.  In short, it is a prime place to
have problems with bears, and there have been a lot of incidents over the years
which seem to be increasing.  Despite the rather untouched feeling of the area,
it is very much like Yellowstone, Yosemite or the Smokies in the manner in
which people are concentrated in one place next to the wild country and its
denizens.  Last summer, a hiker was killed by a grizzly at Kluane National
Park, about a day or two further up the highway, and though the couple was
backpacking, they were on one of the few trails in that park, in other words,
they were in a place where people tend to concentrate.
  You can draw your own conclusions, but mine have always been that the places
where bears and people mix tend to be the places where attacks, fatal or
otherwise, occur.  The more "civilized" it is, the better the chance for a bad
meeting.  I have met many bears in many locations, black and grizzly, but the
ones that gave me the most trouble were the ones most used to people,
regardless of whether they were grizzly or black.  Experienced bear-country
hikers have great respect for ALL bears.  The AT traverses bear country every
bit of the way; places like Pennsylvania and New Jersey have suprisingly high
numbers of black bears, not to mention the Smokies and Maine (the only place on
the AT where I saw a bear).  Since the trail concentrates people and the way we
handle food at the shelters leaves a lot to be desired, it could be considered
very fortunate that bear troubles on the trail have been mostly minor. 
Hopefully, this trend will continue.

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