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  #1  
Old 07-13-2011, 12:15 PM
bruiseviolet's Avatar
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Angry Black Bears & Tents

I feel so silly- but I have a phobia of Bears. (thankfully we only have black bears here in Michigan). It never bothered me as a child, and we frequently went camping up in northern michigan in a tent- with bears all around. I now have 3 children of my own, and since our youngest is 2- we decided it time to start going camping with them- in our tent.

I have tried to squash my fears by doing as much research as I can-- to educate myself more. So many experts have contradicting opinions on their behavior it's so confusing. Anyways- here is my stress right now (its already lead to sleepless nights-)

We are going to a campground that is surrounded by a large river on two sides, and a national forrest on the other two sides. While it's not in the middle of bear country (farther up north)- there are bears in the area. Because of this- they don't have things like bear proof food storage etc... So I would assume the bears aren't very frequent visitors to the campground or they would have more precautions in place? When i called to inquire about the bears- the ranger just said, "well we are next to the woods, so there can be bears". (which didn't calm my fears lol)

We are planning on leaving our food/coolers in our car (but it will be on our campsite). We have 3 children (and with a daughters friend coming- we will have 4 children) and anyone with children knows- they aren't crumb free. The thought of having to change clothes and make sure there is no food at all on them or clothes or in or around the tent seems a bit daunting to me (aka- my stress level is going to be so high- i'm not going to enjoy the camping in the evening/night).

Should we just find somewhere more south of us where the likely hood of a bear is slim to none?

Am I just being too paranoid? How far to do we take it? Keep toothpaste in the car? Scented deoderant? I feel like I have to go spend a fortune at the store to go get things that don't smell just for this 4 day camping trip). We've camped at other places with zero threat of a bear- and we have let the kiddos have a snack inside the tent- do i need to be concerned those smells are still lingering? What if my 2 year old (who isn't potty trained yet) poops in her diaper or pees at night and it attracts a bear to the tent?

I am also concerned- because almost everyone in the campground we are going to has an rv or at the least a pop-up- so I feel like they aren't as careful about picking things up to keep from bears- because they are locked away inside aluminum walls for the night- lol so I'm afraid they will leave crumbs or something about that will attract the bears and then they will come to our tent- because we will be like scent city.

I'm sorry this seems so silly- but it's a phobia- (irrational fear) and I'm trying to deal with it- I don't want to rob my kids of all the fun they can have camping, because I have a serious anxiety problem.
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  #2  
Old 07-13-2011, 02:37 PM
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Everyone should fear bears, what you're missing is the respect and knowledge of bears and their right to exist to raise the calm when you are around them. Us humans are much smarter than they are and when you learn what we've learned then your fears will subside. Don't fall prey to the few horror stories of bear encounters provided by the media. I have had many bear encounters and all went well so you won't hear of the thousands of these types of bear encounters, but would help you realize bears aren't that bad. They are just hungry and you can help teach them to go look elsewhere for food.

You really need to contact the local rangers. It's not that the information is contradictory, it's that different places might require different procedures. Some things work and some things don't. When you learn all the techniques, then you will have more "weapons" against bears.

For example, many places I go, the tourists have been SO BAD, that black bears have learned that people mean food and people are careless and so the bears have decided that it's easier to get food from stupid people, than hunt for their own. It's so bad here that keeping a cooler in the car doesn't work any more, because the local bears have learned to recognize a cooler because it's where the food is. You must also COVER the cooler with blankets, etc. so the bears can't see and recognize the coolers or you'll get your car ripped open as they try to get at it. In these areas campground "bear lockers" have become required. Your area might not be this bad yet, but if bears start getting to coolers it will happen. But cover your cooler in the vehicle anyway. Use a large container for your non-cold food as well and keep it stowed and covered too.

Your phobia is fueled by only three things that made aware should help you. Bears want easily accessible food and once they have it, it's theirs. Lastly the mamas want to protect their young. If you make food inaccessible you solve two of the problems easily (don't let them get to it in the first place!). The second thing, is when you see that cute, cuddly, playful baby bear nearby, go the other way quickly.

Never surprise a bear!!! However if they surprise you, they hate noise, so go ahead and have fun, make lots of noise and they'll stay away and try to get away from the commotion. When a bear approaches camp, stand up, everyone gather together and makes LOTS of noise! Standing together, you'll appear much larger than them and they stay away to get away from the noise. You might want to invest in a portable siren (noise maker) which contains compressed air and a horn and you can keep on your belt or in camp at easy reach. You don't need continuous noise. Just short blasts until they retreat will do. They will then learn to associate humans with loud noise or other unpleasantries and not have an opportunity to locate YOUR food.

At night stow any items with odors (We keep our scented items in ONE bag that's easily stowable). Teach your kids to go to sleep in the tent with the next days change of clothing. NEVER take any food item or soiled clothing with food in the tent.

This stuff works for Black Bears. For Grizzlies, other techniques are warranted but I won't get into them.



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  #3  
Old 07-13-2011, 03:02 PM
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You are very correct. I don't think I came across clear enough- I'm not so much worried about us- I feel I know enough to do things properly to not worry about the bears. (My only concern is me and my teenage daughter wearing deodarant and our shampoo that smells in our hair after it's been washed. LOL) My fears stem from others- as I don't know if people have previously fed them or left food for them to get- where they associate the place with a way to get food. That is actually my concern- my fear of the other campers and previous campers.

I feel so silly calling the rangers to inquire about the bears- but it probably will be the best idea- because now my imagination is running wild. LOL From the way the previous ranger sounded when I spoke to him- it didn't sound there were really ever bears there- but that he had to say it's a possibility to cover their butts- otherwise i think he would have said something more along the lines of - yes we have bears- this is what we recommend etc.... Again, we grew up camping at this campground for YEaRS and my mom said there was never any signs of bears- however i do know the michigan bear population has grown significantly in the past 10 years.

thank you for the reply- it really made me feel a lot better.

I also think- as an added measure for my peace of mind- we will park the car in the general parking area for the night- and not by our tent- and just move it by the tent during the day when we will be getting inside to use the cooler etc.
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  #4  
Old 07-13-2011, 04:26 PM
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Good idea on parking the car elsewhere, but still don't forget to cover everything. I wear scented deodorant, toothpaste and shampoo, but no cologne (it's not needed and would be a little much) because I can't stand myself if I don't. But in that case we all have a natural body odor that the bears can smell too. So as sweet as you might smell, they smell a whole lot different. They are mostly curious about chemical odors because their instincts are that things with an odor should be investigated food, including animal carcasses that we couldn't stand and as long as doing so isn't uncomfortable. If they are curious about you and your daughter's odor and are met with the meanest and noisiest humans they've ever seen (you, your daughter and your ruckus), then they'll learn to ignore that smell if all humans do this!

Never hesitate to call a Ranger and ask about anything! It's their job. Get your taxpayer's moneys worth and get information from them they are paid to provide. Not only are rangers different in their delivery, so will the requirements for the areas they are responsible for. They don't mind. Some will make things more serious to emphasize their messages, but the goal is a little fear and apprehension should make you a better camper, not avoid camping. I have a tremendous amount of experience, however, I ALWAYS stop with the closest Ranger and ask for their take on things. A little extra information always goes a long way.



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  #5  
Old 07-14-2011, 09:54 AM
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I live in northern NJ. you would think we wouldn't have a lot of bear. Not true. I have 4 cubs come through my yard 3 times a week. They were cubs last year. Mama was with them. I think mama fell victum to this years bear hunt. Check out my album animal friends. I have pictures of them playing on my trampoline. One decided to take a dip in my pool. I didn't get a picture of that, mama was to close.
So far there hasn't been any problems. I respect them. They are looking for food, as Art said. His recommendations are right on. Our bear are getting somewhat domesticated, loud noises really doesn't bother them anymore.
Our neighbor, however didn't want to listen to me about feeding birds. Winter time is fine, I feed them too. Bear like bird seed. He continued to feed them in the spring. I got a few pictures of what happened. He raises cockatoos, the bear wanted the seed so bad they tried to get in his house. They didn't make it in, good thing.
Hope I didn't make it worse for you. Just wanted to let you know living in bear country isn't as bad as some people make out to be. Use common sense and don't look like a hamburger.lol. Have fun camping.
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Last edited by dogbone; 07-14-2011 at 10:00 AM..
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  #6  
Old 07-14-2011, 03:29 PM
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Oh yes they love bird feeders. I have never seen a bear in our area- although I know there is a good possibility there are some bears in the area (they keep moving farther south into southern Michigan.) We live on a river, with protected land on the other side of the river- full of woods- so I am really surprised we haven't seen any bears.

Thankfully, I don't think there's much in our yard they would be interested in (except maybe the trash bin). We keep our bird feeders suspended from our deck railing- which is a good 14 feet off the ground below.

Cute pictures of the cubs =) And funny they would swim in a swimming pool =) That would have been a great photo to see.

Have you seen there mother around anywhere or just the cubs?
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Old 07-15-2011, 08:52 AM
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Just the cubs or yearlings. They are one year old now. I think mama either moved on or got shot during the bear season last year. I haven't seen her.
Bear are perfectly happy in the wild, as long as they have their food source. They really don't want to deal with humans. They are a lazy creature, however. If they figure out it is easier to get food out of a trash can they will continue to do so. They learn fast.
We live in the woods, but there is getting to be to many bear in the area. The housing is starting to take over the woods. They have learned about trash cans. Some people are like the bear, lazy. They don't bother with taking proper care of their trash. They are eating well and having 3 or 4 cubs, whereas in the wood living on roots and such, they might have just 1.
You where talking about your feeders. I have a picture, on a disc somewhere, of a bear hanging on a rope to get to a feeder. The feeder was suspended between to trees.
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  #8  
Old 07-15-2011, 09:59 AM
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I found the pictures of the bear on the rope. How stong is the rope. Enjoy.
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  #9  
Old 07-15-2011, 03:49 PM
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This is why hanging your food in trees is no longer allowed in California. With the massive amounts of people who traverse bear territory, they have learned to use human methods to still obtain their food. In these same areas, mama bears teach the cubs to go after the hanging food. If the rope is weak then the bear drops to the ground but doesn't fall far enough to get hurt and the reward of a bag of food is well worth their slight discomfort.

Again, I backpack and camp in bear country in most of the California National and state parks and I use bear lockers or a portable bear proof canister so that bears learn that there's food in there but they can't get to it. The key is they never become successful at getting to it.

My portable bear canister doubles as my chair, too. But, at night it gets stowed 50 to 100 feet away and just have to worry that the bear doesn't bat it too far away and down a hill. So far, good. I have been using mine for about 8 years.



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  #10  
Old 07-16-2011, 09:35 AM
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Bird feeders are illegal here during spring and summer.

We use bear proof trash cans and keep them in the garage. The bear still wander through the yard to get to the next meal. They know when it's garbage day. The garbage is picked up early in the morning, so you either get up early or put it out the night before. Easy pickin's if you put it out at night.

They say that if attacked, lay on the ground in the fetal position and the bear will let you go. Hopefully I won't or anybody will have to try the theory out. I just make sure I have someone, I can out run, next to me when I take the pictures. Check out my animal friend album.
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  #11  
Old 07-16-2011, 10:04 AM
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Two of the most dangerous animals to hunt are the North American Bear and the African Leopard. Most game animals will run off when shot, but the unpredictability of these two are what legends are made of. I've seen Canadian Brown Bear shot in vitals and still have enough energy to come after you and Bear's can cover a 100 yards in seconds, they are fast afoot. It will usually take more than one or two rounds to bring him down. Another unpredictable animal is the South-East Wild Boar that can weigh as much as 1000 pounds, and they can be considered dangerous when angered.

1,180# Wild Boar
http://www.gopherplantation.com/boar_photos.htm
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  #12  
Old 07-16-2011, 11:36 AM
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Folks, we are gonna scare the OP into never camping if there's bears around. Good camping techniques are always to be considered and no one (you or the bear) gets hurt. The stories in the news are of VERY RARE occurrences of an encounter going bad and you'll find that most of them brought it upon themselves by not knowing what to do. Sad but true - getting too close, surprising a bear or her bear cubs or "feeding them" - sounds like stupidity and ignorance to me. Remember if you survive your stupidity, it will most likely cause the death of this bear and for what? You go to where they live, they act like bears and you get them killed. Sound about right?

I have not hesitated to ask or teach others what they are doing wrong when I see it. If my safety is at stake you bet I'm gonna say something. I try and be diplomatic about it so they can see the error of their ways, but if they get stupid or aggressive, I will treat them like the bear I'm trying to avoid, by staying away and not hesitating to report them to the local constables and Rangers. They can either learn the easy cheap way from a peer, or they can learn the most expensive way by paying a very expensive fine or getting damage to their property - I've seen both. Their choice!



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  #13  
Old 07-16-2011, 03:58 PM
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Art is correct - just use common sense with the food and don't surprise them on a hike.

Here are some idiots that left food around their camp, which caused a bear to be be euthanized - 13-year-old recovering from bear attack - The Denver Post
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  #14  
Old 07-18-2011, 10:16 AM
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Bruiseviolet, you haven't been posting on the topic. I hope nothing I have said or any of use have said has changed your mind about camping. If it has, I apologize, for it was not my intention to do so.
Camping can be fun and a great experience for adults and children. As Art and I both said, with proper precautions and common sense you will have no problems. Respect the bear, proper food and trash storage are the main things.
The photo's I took were taken with my safety in mind. I was in my truck and in my house for most of them. I just wanted to show you some actual bear that come around all the time. There are a lot of bear in my area, in all the years, they have been nosing around, there hasn't been any problems, except garbage clean ups now and again. That can be addressed, as stated above, proper storage.
Go out and have a ball. Let us know how you made out.
http://www.state.nj.us/dep/fgw/bearfacts.htm Intresting web site about bear facts
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Last edited by dogbone; 07-19-2011 at 09:18 AM..
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  #15  
Old 08-03-2011, 06:53 PM
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Red face Had a blast camping

Thanks. You didn't scare me =) Just have been busy. We went to a campground recommended by a friend, and found it was not a good fit for our family. So after setting up in 108 degree heat- we tore down the tents the next day and packed the car back up- and headed to a campground we've been to before. enjoyed the rest of our week there- despite the extremely hot weather. I will post a photo of our tent- since I haven't yet- My camera decided to quit working- so I was only able to get this one photo of the tent right after we had got it set up (at the first place we went to). Oh well, next time i'll have some of the family enjoying the campground we love!



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