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Nordic77
member (27)member
 
06/10/2018 09:23AM
Greetings everyone,

First off, full disclosure. I'm an experienced BW paddler, I'm an educated, trained, and employed wildlife biologist, I've worked with state bear research biologists, and I have hunted bears from time to time throughout my life. Of all the bears I've ever encountered in the wild, none behaved like this one did.

Three of us were in the BW the first week of June, just came out Friday June 8th. We entered from EP 14 and camped on Upper Pauness and Shell Lake and fished other lakes throughout the area. My brother-in-law Mike, also experienced in the BW, and I guided our 13 year old nephew on his first-ever BW paddle.

We had an interesting bear pay us a visit twice on the same day. The animal looked like a two or three year old, probably a male. But it was exceptionally bold at each of its two visits.

The first time it visited our mainland camp on Shell Lake was in the early afternoon June 7th. My brother-in-law was alone in camp just relaxing and reading. My nephew and I were fishing on Little Shell Lake, which is a 15 rod portage from Shell.

The animal surprised Mike. No amount of shouting and banging and throwing objects phased the bear. Mike was as close as 10 feet from the bear. The bear took the bag of garbage that we had hanging on a white pine and made off with it. A short time later it came back and knocked over the bear proof food barrel, but Mike didn’t have the lid secured during the daytime as he was in camp and had just accessed it. The bear stuck its head into the barrel and made off with one of the food sacks in the barrel and ate the contents a short distance from camp. Mike could hear the bear eating trail mix, crushing the two small bottles of vegetable oil, and rummaging through other odds and ends.

The bear kept coming back to camp, too, grabbing back packs, nosing around the two tents, walking around the fire grate, and smelling our other packs. According to Mike, the bear stuck around for about an hour while Mike kept an eye on the animal, continued shouting, throwing objects, and banging things together. After the bear finally left camp, Mike took a canoe ride to get away for a while. When he returned to camp the bear was gone for good and it appeared that it hadn’t returned.

We decided to move to a new campsite when I canoed back to camp after a day of fishing. It was 5:30 PM when we moved across the lake, but our new campsite was still on the mainland. I expressed that it would be best to camp on an island, but we decided not to and so we chose a spot on the mainland nearest to the portage that we needed to leave the lake from the very next morning.

Close to sunset while my nephew and I were fishing on the shore near our new camp, the bear (or a new bear) showed up. The bear clearly saw my nephew and me as we backed our way back to camp shouting at the bear while doing so. Despite our presence and our shouting, the bear kept walking directly at us.

We can’t be sure it was the same bear that Mike had the experience with earlier in the day, but Mike said it looked and acted like Bear #1. I'm almost positive that the second bear was indeed the first bear.

All three of us were actively trying to get this bear to leave camp. And despite the animal seeing us, it always ignored us and kept walking toward us, grabbed our nephew's backpack again, walked to within 10 steps of us, and sulked around camp for ten or more minutes.

We shouted and threw rocks and firewood at it and at last got it going in the opposite direction of camp. Even so, and while I was behind it trying to keep it going, twice the bear turned around, looked at me and/or the three of us, and then came right back to camp.

The bear eventually left camp, but it never ran; it just lumbered slowly away and occasionally walked along the shoreline as it went along. I boarded the canoe and paddled down-shore to keep it going.

Less than an hour later the bear was in the next camp down from us. Several people could be heard shouting and banging things. It went on for several minutes before all was quiet again. About an hour after that, the bear was in another camp. More shouting, more banging.

The bear never came back to our camp that night and who knows where it ended up.

For such a young bear the animal seemed to know exactly what it wanted and where and how to get it, as if it had done it before or had watched and helped Ma Bear do the same thing. Fearless bear? Dumb bear? Potentially dangerous bear? Definitely nuisance-like bear behavior and curious behavior nonetheless.

I wish I had had pepper spray with me. It would’ve been a great opportunity to give the bear an unpleasant experience at a campsite instead of the rewards of food that this bear seemed accustomed to getting. As such, and though observing bears in the wild is a special thing, having them in camp is another reminder to all of us to continue taking the necessary precautions while living and recreating in bear country.

Pack your pepper spray, wear it on your belt, practice deploying it, and know how to use it if you should need to.

Lastly, I thought our nephew summed it up best by describing what it was like for him and his first bear experience: "Fear, curiosity, awe".

Take care,
Blane


 
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06/10/2018 02:42PM
Thanks for the report. I’m heading to that area on the 18th. What sites were you staying at? I’m wondering if I should push on to Lynx to avoid said bruin.
niem0128
member (38)member
 
06/11/2018 10:06AM
Probably the same bear that came into our Shell Lake camp twice last year. Here's the message I sent to Lynn at Voyageur North just under a year ago...

Our pick-up driver mentioned you'd probably want to see the photos of the bear I took on Shell Lake. I have attached the photos I took to this email, which I took on the afternoon of June 27.

This appeared to be a juvenile male. We encountered him at the southeast campsite on Shell Lake. We first saw him on the trail to the latrine, with one of the guys in our group getting within about 10 feet of him before alerting the group. We chased him off into the woods by banging pots and pans and making as much noise as possible.

He returned into camp from a different trail 5 to10 minutes later. Again, we chased him off. He jumped over the stream and climbed to a spot on rock ledge. He stood there for a minute, seemingly deciding what to do. I yelled to him to try to get him to look. He immediately obliged, and I was able to take the two photos before we started throwing rocks at him which got him to leave.

Luckily, and to us surprisingly, he did not return again. We took special care to load the food packs with items that would make noise before hoisting them up, but none of us heard a thing that night.

He did not seem to be afraid of us at all, but obviously he was not willing to put up with us to get our food. Our weight estimates were anywhere from 200 to 250 lbs, with the correct weight probably somewhere in the middle. We thought he might have been favoring his back right leg, but it could have just been the way he was standing.



And Lynn's response...

Thanks so much for the pictures and info about the encounter with the “teenager” bear. Glad that you were finally able to convince him to leave your campsite & you alone!

I sent the info to the Ely Forest Service, they always want to know any bear reportings and there have been a few others in that area.

Hope the rest of your trip was enjoyable and as “lucky”.

We look forward to serving your outfitting needs again!
Nordic77
member (27)member
 
06/13/2018 06:37PM
You bet.

When entering Shell via the portage from Pauness, we camped on the second and fourth campsite following the shore to the east. However, the bear visited campsites to the west of where we camped, too.

pswith5
distinguished member(3332)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
06/14/2018 09:05AM
niem0128: "Probably the same bear that came into our Shell Lake camp twice last year. Here's the message I sent to Lynn at Voyageur North just under a year ago...


Our pick-up driver mentioned you'd probably want to see the photos of the bear I took on Shell Lake. I have attached the photos I took to this email, which I took on the afternoon of June 27.


This appeared to be a juvenile male. We encountered him at the southeast campsite on Shell Lake. We first saw him on the trail to the latrine, with one of the guys in our group getting within about 10 feet of him before alerting the group. We chased him off into the woods by banging pots and pans and making as much noise as possible.


He returned into camp from a different trail 5 to10 minutes later. Again, we chased him off. He jumped over the stream and climbed to a spot on rock ledge. He stood there for a minute, seemingly deciding what to do. I yelled to him to try to get him to look. He immediately obliged, and I was able to take the two photos before we started throwing rocks at him which got him to leave.


Luckily, and to us surprisingly, he did not return again. We took special care to load the food packs with items that would make noise before hoisting them up, but none of us heard a thing that night.


He did not seem to be afraid of us at all, but obviously he was not willing to put up with us to get our food. Our weight estimates were anywhere from 200 to 250 lbs, with the correct weight probably somewhere in the middle. We thought he might have been favoring his back right leg, but it could have just been the way he was standing.





And Lynn's response...


Thanks so much for the pictures and info about the encounter with the “teenager” bear. Glad that you were finally able to convince him to leave your campsite & you alone!


I sent the info to the Ely Forest Service, they always want to know any bear reportings and there have been a few others in that area.


Hope the rest of your trip was enjoyable and as “lucky”.


We look forward to serving your outfitting needs again!"
Teenagers these days!!
 
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