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2NDpaddlers
senior member (73)senior membersenior member
  
03/27/2018 08:02PM  
This summer will be my wife's first trip into the BW. The only thing that concerns her is bears coming into our campsite during the night. I tell her the chances are slim if we do things properly. Help me put her mind at ease by having all of you give percentages of times you have been in the BW and encountered a bear compared to the many times you have not. We will be going in entry point #47 (Lizz) and exiting out #51 (Missing Link). Not sure if that is an area known for seeing bears or not.
 
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SevenofNine
distinguished member(2471)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
03/27/2018 08:23PM  
I have seen zero bears on any of my trips since my first in 1996. Keep your camp clean, your food in a barrel and you shouldn’t have any worries. Squirrels and chipmunks are the most prevalent species in campsites. :-)
 
03/27/2018 08:23PM  
Have her watch this. I follow Cliff’s principles when it comes to bears. It should help ease her mind.

Cliff on Bears

The bear part is a few minutes in... 2:20 mark.

Tony
 
cyclones30
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03/27/2018 08:33PM  
Knock on wood, I'm yet to see one in camp. We try to keep things clean and properly store food and trash.

First trip was in....2003 or so.
 
OtherBob
distinguished member (129)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
03/27/2018 08:35PM  
I have been tripping in the BW and Q for 38 years or so, sometimes 3 times a season. I have never had any bears in camp. I saw one yearling once on the Curtain Falls portage. My bow paddler, a retired 6th grade teacher using her best schoolmarm voice, told the bear to get back to its seat and stay there. It scooted right off. So bears are not a problem. I feel very safe in the wilderness.
 
03/27/2018 09:18PM  
I don't know how many trips I have done into the BWCA. At least 50. I have never seen a bear in the BWCA. If there was one in my campsite, I was never aware of it.
However, just outside the BWCA I have seen many - at the campgrounds, roads, and cabins. If you want to see a bear, go to the campgrounds on the fringes! ?
 
03/27/2018 09:34PM  
I've done 13 trips, never had a bear in camp - at least not that I'm aware of. I try not to attract them. I've seen a couple while traveling in the BW and a couple more while driving the FS roads.
 
Rustycards
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03/27/2018 09:39PM  
I've never seen a bear either. I hope to someday, hopefully not in camp. I have seen many mice. Make sure she is ok with seeing them.
 
OldTripper
distinguished member (240)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
03/27/2018 09:47PM  
In roughly two dozen trips inside the BW I've only had one occasion when I thought I had a bear in camp. It was after dark, I was already in the tent, I heard noises outside the tent at maybe 25 yards or so, I yelled and shook the tent from inside. The noise ran off. On one occasion I met a small black bear head-on while carrying the canoe on a portage trail. The second it seen me it ran off into the woods.
That's it.
But, I've had a couple different packs chewed on by mice or squirrels. Those are the real nuisance!
 
03/27/2018 10:43PM  
Over100 trips, never a bear in camp. Seen them along shorelines while tripping, bwca never a problem.
 
03/27/2018 11:07PM  
20+ trips and have had one bear in camp: a youngster who wondered into my camp just as I was unloading my gear. The instant it saw me, it bolted at high speed into the woods and was gone for good.

About a quarter million people enter the BWCA every year. The vast majority have no encounter with bears, and most of the few who do are simple sightings. A rare few have their pick nick baskets stolen. The drive too and from the BWCA is statistically far, far more of a concern.
 
AdamXChicago
distinguished member(1179)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
03/27/2018 11:55PM  
Tripping since 1977. Saw a bear once on a portage. Never had one in camp.
Keep a clean campsite and you’ll likely be fine.
And keep a camera ready, just in case ;-)
 
pswith5
distinguished member(3687)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
03/28/2018 05:54AM  
Couple trips a year since 1984. Never seen a bear while in the bwca. Occasionally see them on the road outside the bw.
 
OldFingers57
distinguished member(4991)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
  
03/28/2018 05:56AM  
My wife and I have never had a bear in any of our campsites whether we are backpacking or canoe camping in MN, WI, MI, MO, IL, or IA. We have only seen a bear twice, a dead one on the side of the road in WI and a the rear end of one running away from us while out hiking in MI. I suggest as others have to keep a clean camp. Also if it eases her mind take a can of bear spray along. I do that to ease my wife's mind. Realize too that bear attacks are very low percentage wise. You stand a far greater chance of getting into a car accident on the way there or back or getting struck by lightning then having a bear attack you.
 
mastertangler
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03/28/2018 06:17AM  
I will be the odd man out........we had a bear in camp at the Sawbill lake entry and it managed to get our stashed food. Most of our food was freeze dried but I made one mistake by not having a snickers bar in a sealed Ziplock bag. Obviously a habituated bear.

We had another encounter of a more serious situation in Algonquin where a bear batted various bags about looking for food and went around the tent sniffing, the only time when my hair on the back of my neck stood straight up. That was a very heightened predicament. I spent that night sleeping with a hatchet draped across my chest.

Both happened at night. it can happen...........make absolutely sure she understands that a bears world is its nose. No food in the tent and that includes empty candy bar wrappers. Do not sleep in clothing you cooked in.........dedicated sleeping clothing is best. No perfumes, ointments, etc. Anything which arouses their curiosity via scent.

Most of the time a bear will go through your camp with big padded feet looking for food and you will never know they were there. A mouse, on the other hand, will usually wake you up ;-)
 
03/28/2018 06:31AM  
1st trip was 92 and I've done multiple trips a year since 06 and have never seen a bear in the bwca or had one in camp. I've been in the Lizz area 4 times and Missing Link twice and didn't hear of others seeing bears in those areas.
 
missmolly
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03/28/2018 07:45AM  
I've never had one in camp, but I've seen lots of bears on shorelines, which is always fun.
 
Savage Voyageur
distinguished member(14425)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished membermaster membermaster member
  
03/28/2018 08:06AM  
For me I have seen one small bear in over 50 trips. Black Bears are not a worry, it’s the mini bears that are a problem, (mice and chipmunks).
 
03/28/2018 08:52AM  
One bear in camp in over 40 BW trips.
 
sylvesterii
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03/28/2018 09:16AM  
In my 37 years (well, I probably don't recall the first 5) the only times I have seen a bear in the area were outside of the boundary waters. One time when we made a quick pit stop on the Kawishiwi River near Birch Lake, and the second time was at my parents house outside of Ely towards Hwy 21.

Proper camp procedures will certainly help, as will choosing your campsite wisely. While technically not impossible for a bear to end up there, a small island site would be a good choice to further reduce the chance of an "encounter."

 
03/28/2018 09:19AM  
Never had a bear in camp. As others have said, mice and squirrels have been an occasional problem. Keep a clean camp, keep food and items with odors in Ziploc bags (or similar), and stash that stuff. I have seen a bear on a shoreline while we were paddling through a lake. There was a campsite at Wheelbarrow Falls that had an official posting about a problem bear in 2011.
 
03/28/2018 09:27AM  
Three trips so far, seen a bear on all of them, (but one was on the road near the Trail Center). Never had one in camp, and never had a problem. They're more afraid of us than we are of them.

My only concession, usually tripping with young kids, is to make sure we constantly talk or make some noise on portages, so we don't come around a corner and surprise one.
 
mastertangler
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03/28/2018 10:56AM  
Savage Voyageur: "For me I have seen one small bear in over 50 trips. Black Bears are not a worry, it’s the mini bears that are a problem, (mice and chipmunks). "


Bears are like anything else, they are not a problem............ until they are. You might have a bit of a different perspective SV had you been in the tent with me on a small island on Timberwolf lake deep in the interior of Algonquin.

When a bear is making deep snuffling sounds only inches from your forearm with just a thin wall of nylon between you things change at that point. The experience is forever cemented into your noggin.
 
thlipsis29
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03/28/2018 11:14AM  
18 trips since 2001 and never had a bear in camp. I did see one on the shoreline across the bay from our camp in Boulder Bay on Lac La Croix, but it never bothered us. I agree that it's the other animals that can be a bigger and more chronic problem: squirrels, chipmunks and we even had a fisher get into some stuff one year. While they can be anywhere, it seems like some lakes or campsites tend to have nuissance bears or bears that have been "habituated".

One long-time member of this board (kanoes, who unfortunately has passed away) had an incident with a bear on a portage that did some serious damage to one of his packs if I remember correctly. And there are pictures in different threads as to how "unbearproof" the blue food barrels can be. But if you keep a clean camp and follow the guidelines, that will substantially reduce the likelihood of having any issues with bears.
 
andym
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03/28/2018 11:23AM  
Probably have about 80 days in the BW and we have seen two bears and none in our camp. Neither of the two bears seemed interested in us and we enjoyed watching them from a distance. We have also seen bear signs (footprints and scat) at other times.

Bears are a big fear for people and there can be rare problems. We carry pepper spray just in case we are faced with one of those rare problems. We started carrying the larger bear canisters but switched to smaller, more convenient dog spray canisters so that it was more likely to have one in our pocket or on a belt.
 
03/28/2018 11:24AM  
Re "clean camp", remember that it doesn't matter how clean you keep your camp if the groups before you dumped bacon grease on the grate and habituated the animals to where humans have food.
 
mapsguy1955
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03/28/2018 11:38AM  
I had bears in camp up on the Allagash in the late 60's but that is it... MANY more in my Mom's yard in western Massachusetts but they are all habituated... I did have two moose going at it about 50 feet behind my tent last year in the Q but that was late September in the peak rutting season.
 
03/28/2018 12:08PM  
Many years of paddling and backpacking all over the US. Lots of time in black bear country - never seen one.
 
03/28/2018 12:23PM  
2017 was our 31st year of trips to the BWCA. Over those 31 years, we've seen 4 bears. 1 was swimming across a small bay, 2 along the shore as we were paddling, and 1 kinda, sorta in camp. The previous occupants of our site had dump their garbage in the latrine. The first morning at that site, on the first trip back to the latrine, we saw a bear exit the latrine. It had removed the fiberglass structure and went in after the trash. We replaced the latrine and stayed there another night and never saw the bear again.

So, bear not a problem, but pay close attention to the video when they say do not put trash in the latrine.
 
03/28/2018 12:50PM  
TominMpls: "Re "clean camp", remember that it doesn't matter how clean you keep your camp if the groups before you dumped bacon grease on the grate and habituated the animals to where humans have food."


This is an oft-overlooked point that really can't be stressed enough. That's why I like that these threads come up a couple times a year -- helps advertise bear awareness and good practices.
 
Tyler W
distinguished member (127)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
03/28/2018 12:52PM  
Ask about bear activity before you go in. We had a bear on Fourtown lake that hit every campsite, every night. We could hear each campsite chase the bear out all the way around the lake until it was our turn. The bear was easily dissuaded when it didn't get our food pack.

Relax. You are more likely to hurt yourself tripping on a portage, getting a fish hook in your hand or doing something dumb with a hatchet. With a bear the worst case scenario is you have to watch it eat all your food and you leave early. It won't attack you. I've never heard of one coming in a tent.

Chasing one out of your camp is quite the adrenaline rush. After that you feel invincible!
 
DrBobDg
distinguished member(850)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
03/28/2018 01:03PM  
Lightfoot: "2017 was our 31st year of trips to the BWCA. Over those 31 years, we've seen 4 bears. 1 was swimming across a small bay, 2 along the shore as we were paddling, and 1 kinda, sorta in camp. The previous occupants of our site had dump their garbage in the latrine. The first morning at that site, on the first trip back to the latrine, we saw a bear exit the latrine. It had removed the fiberglass structure and went in after the trash. We replaced the latrine and stayed there another night and never saw the bear again.


So, bear not a problem, but pay close attention to the video when they say do not put trash in the latrine."



Truly takes a moron like that to do something like that.

dr bob
 
DrBobDg
distinguished member(850)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
03/28/2018 01:04PM  
plastic barrel with a plastic liner that is stashed in the woods and tied to a tree.....
I also take a CCS cooler pack.....gonna be sad when that thing get shredded....
so far so good....

dr bob
 
03/28/2018 02:55PM  
Bears should be the least of your worries. I've been tripping for almost 30 years and have never had a bear in camp. My biggest problem is with squirrels and chipmunks. I've encountered bears near portages but they were easily scared away. Check with the forest service when you pick up your permit and they'll update any bear activity for you.
 
03/28/2018 04:55PM  
I've only seen one bear in 30+ trips. It was in 1991. We were portaging on a hill overlooking a lake. The bear was swimming away in the water. I believe it was swimming away from us because it heard us coming. Like many others have said. Clean camp, hang your food and smell good items (toothpaste etc.). If the camp has a lot of garbage, you can help clean it up, but may want to stay somewhere else.
 
03/28/2018 07:03PM  
Been going up there for 23 years and have yet to see a bear.
Keep a clean camp, put all food and stinky stuff (tooth paste, booze, deodorant, etc.) in the bear barrel. No food of any kind in the tent ever.
 
03/28/2018 07:33PM  
South Arm of Knife Lake, 2010. A bear stole our food bucket and ran away looking like he had a marshmallow in his mouth. We chased him down...

 
voyager
distinguished member (391)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
03/28/2018 08:12PM  
Never say never. Attacks are almost non existent but there was the 1 on Lady Boot Bay. I believe it was 1989. Bear grabbed the guy by the shoulder, just missed an artery. O.K., don't tell her that story. That bear was killed by the DNR after bothering some other people. We lost half of our food on Boulder Bay years ago. The campsite showed evidence of bears getting into packs, so we paddled across the bay and hung it at a not so ideal spot. The bear found it anyway. We had the freeze dried stashed the other direction as per Cliff's instructions, covered on the ground. He didn't find that. I have since quit using the Cliff method after having red squirrels and mice destroy dry bags. My 1st canoe trip to Ontario in 1966 was with 2 men who had had a very aggressive bear in camp on a previous trip. They peppered it with rocks and it got mean. It finally ran off after a young guy landed a monster rock on it's snout. You could hear the crack they said. They packed up and found another campsite. On my trip with them they hung the food way away from camp every night, put moth balls around the tents, and slept with a loaded .303 rifle between them. They had purchased a bear stamp which I believe was $25.00 at the time. A can of bear spray would be a nice for the very rare aggressive bear. Carried 1 once in the BW since 1968. ( too heavy)
 
03/28/2018 10:52PM  
Bear incidents do happen in the BWCA, but my guess is less than car accidents on the drive up. Probably on par with airplane crashes and shark attacks ... actually, probably less.
 
blutofish1
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03/29/2018 06:13AM  
Had one in camp in 1994. He's probably gone now. This was in Quetico.
 
old_salt
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03/29/2018 06:45AM  
Storms are a bigger threat than bears. Take her mind off Bears by talking storm preparation.
 
nooneuno
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03/29/2018 07:02AM  
We had a bear in camp on Ensign about 3 years ago, food was hung so he didn't get it. Found 2 torn packs and their contents in the wood behind that sight that had been there for awhile.
 
QueticoMike
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03/29/2018 07:23AM  
"Hang it Right"

"What do we do if a bear comes into our camp?" The question was
posed by my partner, Bo Roberts, a Quetico rookie voyageur. The inquiry
was sparked from the three canoes gliding down the waterway connecting
Russell Lake with the Sturgeon Narrows. These were the same three I
expected earlier would nab the small island campsite, located at the
mouth, running into the narrows.
They began yelling, "Can you tell us where the closest campsite is
located? We were just run off of our last one by a bear." I retrieved my
maps from the tent and told them about the campsites across the narrows.
They thanked me and traveled on.
As the canoes departed, Bo asked the infamous "Bear in our Camp"
question. He was set to pack up and retreat. Looking back now, it would
have been a good idea. I went on to explain that if confronted by a
black bear, we will need to create as much noise as possible to scare it
off. Bang pots and pans together or other metal objects. I have even
heard of beating on the canoe. A loud whistle, yelling or screaming work
as well. If we keep a clean camp and hang the food pack, everything
should be fine.
I initiated my search for a sturdy limb, one about twelve feet off
the ground. I needed one that could support our ninety pound anchor...,I
mean food pack, which contained all our staples for the remaining nine
days of adventure. There was not much of a selection to chose from on
such a small island. I did manage to locate one with the correct height,
but the distant end of the limb was not strong enough. The rope slipped
closer to the trunk as the pack was hoisted to its resting spot for the
evening. I decided that would have to do.
After the fresh walleye had been gobbled down, the food pack hung
and the camp clean, it was time to fish again. Bo angled off the front
of the island, while I tested my luck in the back.
No more than ten minutes had passed, when I glanced up the waterway
to behold a black bear with a snout pointed in our direction. I
shouted out to Bo, "BEAR!". I scrambled to gather the personal gear
situated around the fire ring. We jumped into the Kevlar craft and
paddled about ten yards off shore. Wanting to keep an eagle's eye watch
of the food pack, I positioned us transversely from it. The food pack
had the appearance of a mammoth piece of green cheese in a mouse trap,
anticipating the arrival of a three hundred pound black mouse.
A few anxious minutes went by until we heard the snapping of limbs
echoing from the tall timbers. The bear's keen sense of smell had lured
him to the destitute slab of granite adjacent to the island. Neither
Bo nor I had ever been this close to a bear and we marveled at the
majestic site of the bruin. This intrigue would soon turn to terror.
The intruder, on a mission, looked to the right and moved left,
portraying a football player determined to locate an opening in the
line. He slipped out of our sights to the opposite side. We maneuvered
the canoe around in an attempt to head him off before crossing over.
When we arrived at the other side, he was already swimming. I began
yelling and banging the paddle on the canoe. Bo followed with the same
procedure. The bear turned back to the mainland. Being the crafty
devil he was, the bear prowled to the back side of the island, out of
sight again. We bolted back around, only to discover the nuisance was
missing. One of two circumstances had taken place. He either high-tailed
it back into the pines or was on the campsite (I bet you can guess where
he was).
Scraping noises protruding from camp filled the air. I spied the
beast and he in turn the food pack. Within moments the bruin scaled the
jack-pine and was knocking the pack around, resembling a kitten and a
ball of yarn. My yelling rapidly transformed into screams, as the bear
paws were shredding the outer surface of the pack. It must have startled
him because he descended from the pack attack. This did not last long though, as he concluded we were not a threat and straddled the tree once again. This trip up, perseverance paid off, the black bear managed to pull out the garbage bag. Being
content with the prize, he dropped down to earth. While the garbage was
being disposed of in the trash compacting bear, I began looking for a
distraction.
With a mighty thrust of our paddles we shot towards the shoreline
which was littered with rocks. Bo filled the newly converted gravel
truck. We paddled back in range of our unexpected dinner guest and
started firing. The second rock catapulted by my partner nailed him in
the ribs. He glanced over and then continued to eat. We bombarded the
menace until he decided this snack was not worth the trouble. Bo sprang
from the canoe and sliced down the pack.
We proceeded to tear down and pack up the camp in minutes. I didn't
even disassemble the tent, just pulled the stakes and piled it upon the
gear already thrown in our Kevlar craft.
It was close to midnight when we found our next campsite. The new
site was on Blueberry Island. What do those bears usually eat other than
food packs?
My travels have brought me through Quetico many times without an
incident with a black bear. Bear encounters only occur to those
wilderness visitors who are careless and are reluctant to keep a clean
camp. I carried the notion of bear problems only happen to the other
guy. I wrote this for people to understand, that on their next trip,
they may be the other guy. Do not be naive of the black bear's
craftiness. Hang your pack and hang it right!
 
03/29/2018 09:29AM  
I have never seen a bear or had one in camp. The outfitters usually hear about an area which has a bear. Bag your garbage and wash your dishes after you eat. Years back we used to clean our fish and leave the remains out on the rocks for birds. We decided with all the bird noise it might attract attention. BWCA campsites do not have garbage since most of our food is freeze dried. Tell her the good news, no poisonous snakes.
 
mvillasuso
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03/29/2018 10:23AM  
What bears?


I worry about falls.
(Precipitation, myself, and trees, in that order)
 
mjmkjun
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03/29/2018 04:44PM  
Been going since 2007 and haven't seen one--much less have one in camp. I am slightly obsessive about a clean campsite.
As an aside, last June I traveled to Kenai Peninsula in Alaska and observed good share of bear sightings. I didn't get nervous about 'em till was hiking with LindenTree thru brush lined hiking trails. Following HIM made me jumpy. ;-)
 
03/30/2018 09:45AM  
Why is this in the camping recipes forum? Dark humor???
 
inspector13
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03/30/2018 11:23AM  

I'm thinking someone was trying to move the Summer Sausage thread from the Trip Planning Forum and got this one instead.

 
03/30/2018 01:29PM  
Bear's?? I have trouble eating just some of one, no way I can eat multiples.

Bear is excellent venison, making fantastic roasts. Just not worth messing with on a canoe trip.

butthead
 
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