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Old 09-02-2016, 08:56 AM   #1
rbi99
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Bears and dogs in the High Peaks

Just learned that bear activity is apparently up in the Lake Colden area. Has there ever been a report of a bear actually climbing into a lean to with people in it? Do dogs play a part in attracting or discouraging bear activity? I ask because there are way more packers who go to Colden without dogs then do, so I was wondering if that factors in at all. I realize a dog doesn't stand a chance against a bear, I am not talking about attacking it or anything. But I was wondering if a dog's scent might cause a bear to go around rather than through simply because it is a changed condition for the bear. I have had two bear incidents at Colden over the years and in neither incident was I threatened at all, but both were very close encounters. The first time, many years ago my wife and I had our your lab with us. The bear walked right past our lean to without stopping, but got everything the people next to us had. Our dog slept through the whole thing (we didn't hear anything while the bear did his thing next to us, we found out about it the next morning). I will have my bearvaults with me.
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Old 09-02-2016, 09:18 AM   #2
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In my experience bears typically do all they can to avoid dogs.
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Old 09-02-2016, 09:19 AM   #3
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Has there ever been a report of a bear actually climbing into a lean to with people in it
If you're standing in the lean-to with a stick of pepperoni in your hand a bear won't hesitate to enter the lean-to to investigate. If you give the bear no reason to enter the lean-to(i.e. no food or other attractive odors) then the bear will pass you by.
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Old 09-02-2016, 09:21 AM   #4
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Many years ago, I recall a DEC AFR telling me of a sow that entered an occupied lean-to (it wasn't in the High Peaks). He said her last meal was fast moving lead (delivered by the DEC).

Bears and dogs? Bears love dogs! They're so tasty.

I think if a habituated camp-bear has a mind to inspect the enticing odors wafting from your lean-to, a noisy suburban house pet is an ear-ache, not a deterrent.

When I used to camp, and sleep in lean-tos, I learned to despise other people's dogs. They're not universally ignorant but the few I had the misfortune to share a lean-to with would invariably bark at every little damn noise in the woods. All. Night. Long.

BearVault? Good luck with that. It was the first bear-canister to be compromised in the Eastern High Peaks (EHP) zone. The lid's latching mechanism was redesigned and promptly defeated again. The DEC banned its use in the EHP and only lifted it after Yellow-Yellow (the sow allegedly responsible for defeating it) died (mistakenly killed).

Both BearVault and L'il Sami are made of polycarbonate and have been breached by the EHP's resourceful bears. They simply gnaw on it until it punctures and then they chew and tear open a hole. They literally cut it a new one.

There's a compromised BearVault on display at the the Loj's Information Center and a forum member recently posted a photo of their remodelled L'il Sami. http://www.adkforum.com/showthread.php?t=23269

PS
If you haven't read this account of bear activity along Gill Brook, it's worth a read. The sow pilfered packs, water-bottles, and whatever else she thought would make nice Xmas gifts. She couldn't care less who was in the camp and what they did; she's learned that we pose no threat to her. Obviously, but that's not a good thing for campers ... or her.
http://www.adkhighpeaks.com/forums/f...-bear-activity

Last edited by Trail Boss; 09-02-2016 at 09:31 AM..
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Old 09-02-2016, 11:37 AM   #5
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They even have a bear vault looking canister in the DEC page on bear canisters, so...... I bought the other one because it looks much harder to get it open. http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/7225.html
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Old 09-02-2016, 11:53 AM   #6
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Since Yellow-Yellow's death, has a redesigned BearVault failed?

I have fortunately had many great backpacking trips, and am fairly knowledgeable of what is and is not good camping habits. My cleaned dishes and all garbage go back into my canisters immediately after eating. Disperse dirty water as far and as wide an area as I can toss it. Certainly don't sit around or walk off leaving food exposed.

Because I prefer solitude to crowds, I pack in mid-week to minimize that. However, because I do, I become the only "meal in town". When the Ursack incident occured the caretaker at Colden said that previous weekend he counted over 50 people camping. When my son and I hiked in there was one couple at Flowed Lands, and us at Colden - that was it. If I am one of very few people in the area, any bear activity caused by others mistakes becomes magnified because the "bad guys" have all gone home and I am now their only option.

That being said, my original questions still stand: has there been any reported incidents of a bear actually entering an occupied lean to in the Adirondacks? Also, is there any factual info out there regarding dogs and their influence with bears good or bad? I know a dog will lose to a bear every time if they get into an actual fight, that wasn't my question or point. Because there are many fewer backpackers with dogs (barking ones or not!!) having a dog is a somewhat changed situation for a bear. These bears aren't starving, they are looking for convenience food. A starving bear is desperate, these guys aren't - we have made them lazy. Does a dog influence a lazy bear looking for easy food, or do facts say they do not?
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Old 09-02-2016, 12:22 PM   #7
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has there been any reported incidents of a bear actually entering an occupied lean to
I don't know if there are documented instances of bears entering a lean-to. But there are documented instances of bears entering houses, garages, cars, campers, front porches, etc...

If a bear has a reason to go somewhere, they will. That reason ultimately is the smell of something that appeals to them. If there's 50 people camping at Lake Colden then there's a huge opportunity and likelihood that there will be easy pickings for the bear. And easier pickings and more volume than the local berry patch. If there's one group camping at Lake Colden and one group camping at Flowed Lands then the local berry patch provides better harvesting than two scattered groups of campers(assuming the campers are following recommended guidelines).

I personally don't worry about bears, because I will take the necessary precautions and not provide the bears a reason to think my campsite is a food source.

Last edited by rdl; 09-02-2016 at 01:05 PM.. Reason: spelling & accuracy
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Old 09-02-2016, 12:50 PM   #8
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Since Yellow-Yellow's death, has a redesigned BearVault failed?
Next time you're at the HPIC, ask the staff about the over-ventilated BearVault on display.


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Disperse dirty water as far and as wide an area as I can toss it.
Nope. Bury it, just like poop. A bear's sense of smell is to a dog's like what a dog's is to ours. All you're doing is broadcasting the odor of "Free Food!". 50 campers burying their dish-water or 50 campers spreading it around like Hai Karate (or AXE for the millennials). Oh, they're still going to smell the buried dish-water but at least there'll be some challenge involved.
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Old 09-02-2016, 06:28 PM   #9
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Nope. Bury it, just like poop. A bear's sense of smell is to a dog's like what a dog's is to ours. All you're doing is broadcasting the odor of "Free Food!". 50 campers burying their dish-water or 50 campers spreading it around like Hai Karate (or AXE for the millennials). Oh, they're still going to smell the buried dish-water but at least there'll be some challenge involved.
I thought there was some movement toward not burying - precisely because the bear or other animal will dig it up and cause even more damage to the area.
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Old 09-02-2016, 06:30 PM   #10
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Drink your dishwater. You're not using soap, or cooking anything meaty or smelly or greasy in the High Peaks anyway, right?
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Old 09-02-2016, 07:34 PM   #11
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I thought there was some movement toward not burying - precisely because the bear or other animal will dig it up and cause even more damage to the area.
Nah. They're too busy chewing up BearVaults.

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Old 09-02-2016, 08:37 PM   #12
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Nah. They're too busy chewing up BearVaults.

Ouch!!! Looks like I am taking momma to Queer Lake. I hear BearVaults have never been opened by a mouse or squirrel since the second tab has been put on the lid. Wife likes the idea of a 3 1/2 mile hike a lot better than the 5 1/2 to Colden. She is very concerned that all that plastic in a bear's belly wouldn't be good for him.
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Old 09-02-2016, 09:49 PM   #13
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It's been my experience that bears will avoid dogs (at least mine and I hike with more than one) at all costs; I've seen their very fresh sign, never seen one when I hike with my dogs. They'll also avoid my cabin if the dogs are there. Not sure about the High Peaks though, I rarely hike those trails (mainly because of my dogs we go to less used areas where they aren't going to do ecological damage). I am still so sad over Yellow Yellow. I was just speaking of her today in a discussion about cubs - I believe she had cubs when she was shot and I often wonder if the cubs can make it at that age.
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Old 09-02-2016, 10:52 PM   #14
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Will dogs avoid bears?
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Old 09-02-2016, 11:37 PM   #15
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Will dogs avoid bears?
Mine certainly won't. I'm sure some will do their best to steer clear, but if my Springer Spaniel gets one whiff the hackles go up, the alert is sounded and the chase is on. She is not looking to tangle with them, just to run them off. It's actually a huge fear of mine that she inadvertently gets between a mother and cubs before I can call her off and stop her. It's for this reason I'll even keep her leashed at night when camping in bear territory.

She has little reaction to deer or most any other wildlife (other than chasing the occasional squirrel or chipmunk), but the scent or sight of a bear always drives her crazy for some reason. I have tried explaining to her that she is a bird dog, not a bear dog, and that she would definitely lose any fight, but she doesn't seem to care...
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Old 09-02-2016, 11:48 PM   #16
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Mine certainly won't. I'm sure some will do their best to steer clear, but if my Springer Spaniel gets one whiff the hackles go up, the alert is sounded and the chase is on. She is not looking to tangle with them, just to run them off. It's actually a huge fear of mine that she inadvertently gets between a mother and cubs before I can call her off and stop her. It's for this reason I'll even keep her leashed at night when camping in bear territory.

She has little reaction to deer or most any other wildlife (other than chasing the occasional squirrel or chipmunk), but the scent or sight of a bear always drives her crazy for some reason. I have tried explaining to her that she is a bird dog, not a bear dog, and that she would definitely lose any fight, but she doesn't seem to care...
I take it since your dog is still wagging her tail that it is the bear that runs away?
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Old 09-03-2016, 12:25 AM   #17
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Will dogs avoid bears?
I think it's dependent on the dog and the situation. The only time I suspected mine were chased was when they went missing for about 45 minutes and came to my house absolutely terrified, panting so hard they couldn't catch their breath, and begging to get in the car. The Malinois was pawing at the car and trying to get me out of there. It was weird. I know she was trying to tell me we were in danger, and she's afraid of nothing.

I suspected a bear may have chased them. Or an alien. We're all pretty afraid of aliens after seeing Fire in the Sky. I saw a very, very strange light hanging over us in a very deserted, winter's night Adirondack sky years ago. My husband was dying to go back and investigate. Not me. I was out of there. At least for a bear there's a shotgun (though I'd be unlikely to actually do that given I go to extensive lengths to run a mouse re-location program in my house). I'm pretty sure shotguns don't work on aliens.
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Old 09-03-2016, 12:30 AM   #18
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Now this is only my opinion, and I am not any kind of expert, but it seems to me that because most hikers in the Adirondacks, especially backpackers, come there without a dog or dogs, that a bear that has experienced success stealing human food would take pause if it smelled or heard one.

While I almost always have mice walking around my lean to at night when I don't have my dog/s with me, I never hear them when they are. A mouse sure as heck isn't a bear, but I am pretty sure the odor of the dog is what deters them - I doubt it is from prior contact with dogs. I have slept in a lot of lean tos and this has always been the case.

Doing a Google search really doesn't bring up much real info. Some postings say dogs are great at deterring black bears, others the opposite.
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Old 09-03-2016, 01:34 AM   #19
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I take it since your dog is still wagging her tail that it is the bear that runs away?
Yes. Thankfully any time this has happened the bear's first priority always seems to be running away as quickly as possible much as they have done just about every time I've ever come in contact with them when by myself (away from dumps, food sources and the like, that is).

I've had dogs in the past that even have tree'd a few bears in their haste and panic to get away. In most cases black bears are looking to be nonconfrintational and just want to get away. It's when they get backed into a corner, threatened, surprised, or, in most of the worst cases, cut off from and/or protective of their cubs that they can become aggressive and truly dangerous. Then again, I'm speaking generally of 'wild' bears - once they become habituated to humans, as many pilfering campsites for food are or are in danger of becoming, all bets are off.

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While I almost always have mice walking around my lean to at night when I don't have my dog/s with me, I never hear them when they are. A mouse sure as heck isn't a bear, but I am pretty sure the odor of the dog is what deters them - I doubt it is from prior contact with dogs. I have slept in a lot of lean tos and this has always been the case.
.
That's interesting. I've never really noticed a difference and definitely have had mice scampering to and fro whist my dog was with me. Maybe they become used to dogs and sort of habituated in a similar way that bears do to people after experiencing them more times? Or are more active seeing dogs less even if they maybe only eventually learn to fear them after seeing more and more- like they would a barn cat?
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Old 09-03-2016, 10:17 AM   #20
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You figure your typical backpacker is asleep at night and all is quiet on the western front. A habituated bear strolls into an area to get his nightly snack. I have to believe that if a dog senses something is up and starts barking, that is not what the bear was expecting and will take off. This would be especially true I would think if the bear has multiple options for dinner. My problem is that I always backpack mid week and off season so that I minimize crowds. Therefore I become a very finite option meal wise. I keep their leashes on at night because I don't know what would happen if either of my dogs (well one of my dogs as the other one in all likelihood would be sound asleep inside my sleeping bag with me!!!) went charging into the night after whatever it was she smelled. I have hundreds of hours hiking, climbing and backpacking with my dogs and I know them very well. A bear in the middle of the night is one thing I haven't experienced while backpacking with my dog (ok that isn't true either, but the one occasion I had my dog with me he slept right through the bear walking past our lean to - had to tell him what he missed later!!!).
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