BWCA WWYD #13 Boundary Waters Listening Point - General Discussion
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Michwall2
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04/02/2021 12:13PM  
My son and I were in the first campsite off the portage to Alton Lake on Beth Lake. This was our 3rd trip to the BW. We were in our tent for our nightly game of cribbage. It was just dusk and there came a growl from the direction of the portage. It was not loud and had almost the same sound as the de Haviland we had seen at least twice that day. My son looks at me and says, "Airplane." We keep playing cribbage. A few seconds later - more growling. This time closer. My son says, "Still sounds like an airplane." A few seconds later, it is completely apparent that it is NOT an airplane. We have a visitor. We have a short discussion about what to do? We are in the tent with headlamps on. The food bag is about 50 feet away and 15 ft. in the air. (Good hang in that site.). The bear skirts the camp growling. We hear him move up the hill toward the latrine. And then come running down the hill back into the camp. What do you do?
 
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04/02/2021 02:29PM  
First I would thank the bear for leaving the path to the thunder box open, I'm real sure I would need it very soon.
I guess it depends on how aggressive the bear was. I have had several bear encounters, although not in the BWCA, and the bears were startled when they realized people were around and took off. If the bear stood its ground or made mock charges at me I would back off at least to the edge of camp or better yet get to the canoe if possible and try to discourage the bear with noise, rocks etc .
Your food pack was properly hung and if the camp was clean (including the campers before you) there is no reason for the bear to stick around. Except I bet this critter was used to getting something from this site and would consider anything at it to be his. I bet it is a popular lunch stop so near the portage and sees a lot of people.
I would stay the night very alert and make sure the bear knew the camp was occupied and beat feet in the morning. OR If I knew of a nearby camp site I could safely navigate to in the dark I would throw everything in the canoe and head out. I would not do a portage in the dark knowing there is a bear nearby.
I would notify the FS and leave a note warning other campers (to protect people and the bear)
 
Savage Voyageur
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04/02/2021 03:24PM  
Bears want one thing...your food. They don’t want anything to do with you, unless you have M+Ms in your pocket next to a snickers bar. You already said your food is in the tree, so what’s the big deal? Shuffle the deck and deal the cards.
 
JWilder
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04/02/2021 07:44PM  
I get that bears are food driven. This bear growled several times. Territorial? Defensive gesture? I'm not sure myself.

As in the WWYD-10. I like the idea of starting a fire and creating some general noise. I would want to be able to see my surroundings, and the location of the visitor. If I were in the tent, it would restrict my sense of sight, which I don't like.

I would be solo, so I guess I am not sleeping...

JW



 
04/02/2021 09:25PM  
I don't stress about bears. We try to keep camp picked up, and bear safe, but I don't spend two seconds worrying about my own safety. Having said that...

I've read enough encounters on this site, to think that black bears have different personalities, and whether it's natural, or through habituation, in my opinion, they fall into about 3 different categories.

1. The vast majority are wary of humans, and any sort of menacing posture by you will scare them off.
2. There is a smaller minority of black bears that are sort of neutral. They come into camp, and are on a mission to eat something. While they don't really pose a threat to you're safety, you're not really going to scare them off either. They want to check out your camp, and no amount of noise and dancing around is going to dissuade them. They might leave if you throw rocks, but they may come back again. The neutral bears don't really run off. They just stroll around your camp for an extended period of time, and if they don't find anything will just slowly saunter off.
3. Then there are aggressive bears. This is extremely rare from what I can tell. Like less than one percent rare. These are the ones that grab a dog off a deck, or bite a human. There are so few of these encounters, it's hardly worth discussing, but you read about one, once in a great while. It's so rare, that you have to question, if there was food in the tent, or something that provoked the bear. But then, I've read enough to realize, that with some very rare bears, there wasn't some explanation for their attack, and it may very well be, that they just have an aggressive nature.

From everything I've read, growling seems odd to me. Makes me worry they are in that 3rd category, certainly a cat 2. All the stories I read, I don't read much about growling. Rooting around, making noise, breathing heavy, sure, but not growling. That's odd.

I can't see packing up and leaving in the dark. Especially if I was unfamiliar with the lake. In the dark, it's too likely I'm going to lose something, break something, put a nasty wound in my kevlar canoe hitting a rock, etc. And I don't really want to tear down, and go set up someplace else, when I'm tired, and it's likely buggy out. But the growling would bother me a little.

I think if it were afternoon, I would probably pack up. Even with a category 2, Neutral bear, I'd probably leave, but not at night. I've had a bear take my pack once about 30 years ago, and I don't really want to do that again. In this case, I probably wouldn't sleep very well, but I'd give it try, and leave the next day. I think my actions would depend alot on who I'm with. If it's just a bunch of us guys, I wouldn't be as worried. However, if I were with my wife, I would want to error on the side of caution. It's not that there is any physical difference, it's just that I want her to feel safe, and comfortable, and would go the extra mile for her.

 
missmolly
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04/03/2021 07:24AM  
"...it's just that I want her to feel safe, and comfortable, and would go the extra mile for her."

Lucky lady times two. She caught that giant smallie and you're her second great catch.
 
R1verrunner
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04/03/2021 02:34PM  
10 years ago the 1st and 2nd day of bear season. I was on disappointment lake.

Had a bear doing the same thing.

I did the only appropriate thing since I had a bear Lic.

I shot the pest.

Reduced to meat.

From the other reports I had before shooting it.

The growling charging camp was a learned behavior to scare those humans.

So it could raid the camp without trouble.

The bear I shot had bit a young lady and tired to drag her off two nights before.
Yes I talked with the young lady and saw the Bite marks.

On the way out I talked with two wardens who were on they way in to shoot the bears.

It is my understanding they also shot a bear.
 
Canoearoo
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04/04/2021 12:46AM  
Make sure we all have our bear spray at hand and just go to sleep. It worked for grizzly bears so it should work for black
 
04/04/2021 12:31PM  
missmolly: ""...it's just that I want her to feel safe, and comfortable, and would go the extra mile for her."


Lucky lady times two. She caught that giant smallie and you're her second great catch. "


Thanks for the smile. Of the two of us, I think I'm the lucky one. She's wonderful.
 
treehorn
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04/05/2021 09:25AM  
I would probably leave it be and stay in the tent unless and until I heard it having some success getting to the food pack. Then you have to jump out and try to run it off...bear spray if available, otherwise noise and commotion. If this was necessary, I probably wouldn't be able to sleep afterwards, so make a fire and chill out the best you can until sunrise.
 
Banksiana
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04/05/2021 10:46AM  
R1verrunner: "10 years ago the 1st and 2nd day of bear season. I was on disappointment lake.

The bear I shot had bit a young lady and tired to drag her off two nights before.
Yes I talked with the young lady and saw the Bite marks.

."


I cannot find any report of a bear attack in the area of Disappointment Lake.
 
04/05/2021 12:50PM  
I would keep playing cribbage. I betting I don't taste good.
 
Michwall2
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04/05/2021 08:49PM  
Well, we didn't have bear spray in our kit on this trip. (I think I bought some for the next year!)

I had read enough about bears to know 2 things:

1. You needed to make yourself look as big as possible
2. Bears don't like to be surprised.

We also didn't know if there were cubs involved. (Could that be the meaning/source of the growling?

Crawling out of a tent on our hands and knees with headlamps on to surprise a bear without knowing whether there were cubs out there did not seem like a really good idea.

We dealt the next hand of cribbage!

The bear skirted camp for a few more minutes. We could hear it's foot steps just outside of camp. Finally it moved back toward the portage and we heard a few splashes as it crossed the narrow bay there and then all was quiet. We did not get to sleep very early that night. I think we played cribbage for a long time. But we did finally sleep. We were headed home the next day. We reported the encounter to the outfitter before we left.

 
R1verrunner
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04/08/2021 06:04AM  
Canoearoo: "Make sure we all have our bear spray at hand and just go to sleep. It worked for grizzly bears so it should work for black "

Bear spray has been proven to be ness effective on black bears.
 
R1verrunner
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04/08/2021 06:05AM  
Banksiana: "R1verrunner: "10 years ago the 1st and 2nd day of bear season. I was on disappointment lake.


The bear I shot had bit a young lady and tired to drag her off two nights before.
Yes I talked with the young lady and saw the Bite marks.


."



I cannot find any report of a bear attack in the area of Disappointment Lake. "


You well not either.

I search for an official report after the incident and never found one.

I not only talked with the victim but the rest of the party and they all confirmed.
That the bear grabbed her by the foot and tried dragging her off.
 
04/08/2021 10:59AM  
If a bear makes somewhat aggressive actions like that but not immediately threatening, then it is likely trying to get you to go away so it can eat your food. Do not back off or you are just encouraging it. Running down the trail and making some noise from a distance sounds to me like it is wary of you and is hoping to get lucky. Get out the flashlights, start a fire, if it is still light out grab tools or a paddle to look bigger, and start yelling at the bear. It will recognize that you are not an easy target and leave.

Your best bet to make sure it doesn't come back though is to chase it off to the point where it runs away and is afraid of you instead of just warning it off. Don't attack the bear, just make it think that you are willing to if it doesn't leave right now. A bluff charge as it starts to walk away should reinforce the point.
 
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