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[pct-l] Black Bears on the PCT

On Thu, 30 Apr 1998  "ALAN T. JULLIARD" wrote: 
>Birgitte said:   >>it's no big deal having a black bear checking out
your camp

>  Just don't tell that to the folks who have been fatally mauled by 
>black bears. 

   Well, so far I haven't - anybody read this who's been mauled (fatally,
I assume not :-) by a blackie lately?

>Birgitte, I'm sure you don't really mean this.

   Yeah, I do.  What's the big deal about a non-predating black bear
moseying into camp to sniff your pack (maybe paw at it a little) or tent?
If you've ever spent the night at many of the more popular Yosemite
campsites, or at many touristy THs, you'll have noticed that habituated
bears routinely make-the-rounds - usually after dark - and "wilder" bears
sometimes in more remote spots. You've probably shared your camp with a
bear innumerable times, while you slept,  and are none the worse for
wear. The Danger is when the bear is threatened by the camper in some
way; give a blackie plenty of room and he'll leave you alone (even a sow
with cubs, no lie). He may not leave small children alone, but I haven't
seen them posting to this list, so... Having bears so habituated to
people is Not a Good Thing, of course, (and there will probably come a
time when the ursine population begins regularly predating humans) but
until we *all* stop feeding the bears, we'd might as well relax and enjoy
the close encounters our behavior's produced - IMHO. 
   "Cabin" bears are sometimes a problem in places like Alaska, but that
shouldn't concern PCT thu-hikers. The hot-springs incident is quite
isolated, and involved a starving bear, I believe; you won't run into any
of those on the PCT [G]
   BTW, I said nothing about black bears being "harmless"; of course
they're not. Neither are horses or big dogs, etc. I think actual chance
of harm occuring is more important than theoretical potential-to-harm.
Bears are smart, and blackies are usually only interested in your food;
ergo, they have their enormous destructive powers well in check. All we
have to do is not provoke them.

 > All bears kill people and, thus, all deserve our respect and/or fear.

  Well, that's not true at all. *Few* (any type) bears kill or even
harass people, and most of the  blackie incidents (swatting) have origins
in "bear-unfriendly" human behavior.
   Bears deserve our respect for a number of reasons, but it's not
good-for-our-heads to confuse *fear* with respect. The hardest thing I
encounter in explaining animal behaviors to humans is that something (a
bear, a snake, another person) doesn't have to be *afraid* of you to
refrain from harming you. How on earth did that troubling "fear-theory" 
start, anyway? Brrrr!

> it just takes one time when things don't
>go as expected and I'll be front-page news.

   Absolutely! That's true of everything in Life. No guarantees.
   Bu-u-t. Should we cue our behavior from singular tabloid-incidents? Is
it reasonable (or advisable) to fear everything that we haven't Absolute
Control of? Sounds like a bad idea to me... Why should something be
"predictable" (as if any living thing could be so), to be okay? Notice I
didn't use the ever-popular word "safe"; safe-*enough* is more realistic
- and plenty adequate.
   One thing: from a casual sampling of bear attack (and other)  stats,
it seems pretty evident that folks that are comfortable around
bears/animals, and accept their behavior, fare better in "encounters"
than folks who are hostile/fearful of them. All I posted was: keep a
clean camp, use canisters/hang properly etc, don't sleep on bear trails -
all the usual stuff - and if a blackie wanders through your camp (heck,
you'll probably be asleep and not even be aware of it until next
morning,when you see tracks/overturned rocks, etc), it's *not* World's
End.....      bj 

  I just saw 
the following  posted, and wanted to say a heartfelt "Amen!" What a
lovely (and sensible) attitude! The '98 hikers have a right to feel a
little extra-proud, don't you think?

>[snip] it will be possible to thru hike this year, it will just be a
little harder and you will >have to be just a little more persistant,
resilient and flexible.  IMHO. 
                             Greg "Strider" Hummel

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