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Old 12-06-2012, 10:57 PM   #53
Dude Buddha
Joined: Feb 2007
Location: Yukon
Oddometer: 654
Epic Information Failure

Originally Posted by Myfuture_yourdebt View Post
Based on everything I've ever heard about, read about, and experienced, the biggest deal regarding personal safety when it comes to bears in the USA is whether or not you're in grizzly territory. Black bears, especially in lower latitudes, are relatively small...a 300 lb. Black Bear in CO is considered big. Now is that 300 pounds of bear I'd like to wrestle with? No, but as others have stated 99% of black bear encounters are them running away from us. Grizzlies aren't as easily scared off, and if they attack you're basically dead already unless you happen to be a good shot AND get lucky with either bear spray or proper firearm (12 gauge, .44 Mag and up revolver)... I've seen black bears 4 times in 12 years and they've always been jogging away from me...

Basically I hardly worry at all about black bears when it comes to personaly safety...A normal sized black bear versus Joe Schmo with a bowie knife is practically a fair fight.
I hope this is a prank post, or sarcasm.

Otherwise, you need to read or experience more current information, as much of what you state is not consistent with current bear safety practice. Let's put this in perspective. You say you've seen black bears 4 times in 12 years. Last year I had a grizzly with two cubs munching berries across my driveway, about 75', watched them for about an hour. Same summer, another mother grizzly with 3 cubs wandered by, black bears are frequent neighbours. This is at home, not way out in the bush, I'm only 25 km to Whitehorse.

Grizzlies will defend territory or act to eliminate a threat, but do not typically view people as food. I have a friend and two acquaintances who have been mauled by grizzlies. In each case, the bear left them alone after believing it had eliminated the threat. My friend recalls thinking "if I don't stop screaming, I'm dead". He did so, the bear dropped him. I would add that it had him by the back of the leg where it joins the buttocks and was flailing him through alder bushes like a dog does with a stick. That's how strong they are. Or see the cabin pictures I posted. Grizzlies also respond well to bear spray, i.e. leave. So are you automatically dead if a grizzly attacks? No, use spray, play dead, they may leave you the worse for wear (none of my friends are pretty anymore), but alive, if you're lucky.

As others have posted, your luck changes if you're constantly exposed to the situation, but that's true of anything. Use a chainsaw a lot, you're more likely to cut yourself.

We had one unfortunate incident where a prospector was out staking, unknowingly walked right below a den with a mother griz and cubs. She probably killed him so quickly there was no time for any action. Given some distance, and no surprise, she may not have acted as dramatically as she did. Who knows? There is an element of uncertainty, they also have personalities. Some are mellow, some not.

If you think a black bear your size is the same strength, good luck. Not even close. While most black bears will run, some won't. Worse, some black bears DO think of us as food, and will initiate a predatory attack. If it's pretending not to see you, slowly stalking closer...bad signs. We keep it quiet, but do lose a tourist now and then to bear attacks, almost all to black bears. One young summer worker had "old school" advice and played dead when the black bear went for her - this in a public government campsite - and while the bear was eventually chased off by others, it wasn't pretty. They don't necessarily kill you before starting to dine. If it's a predatory black bear, make the meal as hard to get as possible, fight back - but only if contacted.

At another public campsite a black bear went for a fellow who was splitting wood, and he had the cool presence of mind to nail it dead center of the skull with his axe. Giant balls, and great timing. For the bear to get that close, it wasn't a bluff charge. If you're taking black bears casually, good luck with that.

I am probably more afraid of grizzlies, as I've seen what they can do, but given a choice, I'd almost rather deal with a grizzly than a black bear. Maybe it's the unpredicatability of a black bear, which I think may be higher than a grizzly.

Put another way, I've had a grizzly walk through my camp, about 25' away. I sat still, he ignored me, it was clear that he was sending a message: "MY woods". If that had been a black bear, I'd have been really worried, that close would mean intent.
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