Scouts-L Mail Archive for August of 1999: Bears
Fri, 13 Aug 1999 11:14:20 -0400
Just another data point concerning bears. We just returned from a 50 mile
8-day trek into the High Peaks of NY Adirondack Mtns. The bears are
extremely active at Marcy Dam (Sow and cub) and at Lake Colden ( _THE_
biggest black bear I have ever seen either in the wild or in captivity).
They don't seem terribly interested in people or non-food smellables, but
in food........including empty power-bar, granola, cheese cracker wrappers.
One of our boys left a day pack out overnight with one empty wrapper
inside. We found the pack inside-out the next morning. Another left a bag
of GORP in his day pack in the vestibule of his tent while he went swimming
in the middle of the afternoon. It was found outside of camp in a similar
condition. Fortunately we had made it very clear that no food, wrappers,
or even packs were to be stored in tents at any time. There is no doubt
in our minds that these bears would have entered a tent even if occupied.
The Lake Colden bear managed to chew one of the ropes from one of our three
hangs and devour about a days worth of meals. He finally left at about 6am
(well after sunrise) after he had an audience of about 20 people who were
keeping their distance but ready to scatter to the four winds. We had to
stretch it abit until we resupplied mid-week but it didn't ruin the trip.
We did meet several parties that were not so fortunate. This bear also
walked right into an occupied site just after dark (9:30pm) where two
gentlemen were cooking up a pot of beans over an open fire (15-20 feet from
my tent), growled in a very serious tone and thus forced their retreat.
WOW. I had never seen such bold behavior prior to that. Then again, there
isn't much that will question the desire or ability of these bears to do
precisely what they want. According to the Ranger at Lake Colden, the bears
in this area appear to be operating by sight with regard to bear bags.
They will check out anything on the ground that smells of food obviously.
At Lake Colden they will look primarily in the campsite itself as there are
usually easy pickings from new arrivals (like us) whom are less aware of
the magnitude of the problem. At Marcy Dam most people hang their food
over the spillway at the dam itself, but the bears have figured out how to
pull up the lines and have themselves a tasty snack.
Cook meals well before nightfall. Hang your food well away from the site
(200-300 yards out), use dark bags and dark rope, hang the bags between two
trees at least 20-30 feet apart and 15 feet high, preferably over a stream
or brook, run the tie-downs vertically down the tree trunk and avoid
diagonals over a single branch. All the bears in that area seem to have
figured out that diagonal tie-downs are there to be chewed or clawed in
half. Perhaps most important however, keep packs and anything else that
may have accumulated food odors out of the tents. We heard all the
standard warnings prior to our arrival at Lake Colden, and thought we were
reasonably well prepared, but there is nothing like a 500-600 pound bear in
your campsite all night long to a) keep you awake, and b) drive home the
message that you cannot be too careful with respect to these animals.
Although the remote nature of these camps, especially Lake Colden, probably
deters the least well prepared, I suspect that it is merely a matter of
time before someone is seriously injured or killed there.
ASM Troop 115