[cdt-l] Bear Spray

Jonathan Ley jonathan at phlumf.com
Mon Apr 2 20:53:53 CDT 2007

I'll try to keep this one brief...

The reason for the term "a fed bear is a dead bear" is because habituated
bears are extremely dangerous and are usually destroyed by officials. I'm
not sure what you were trying to say. Before these bears are "made dead",
they're dangerous. 

Sing louder? That's rich... You still haven't said how you know the previous
occupants of your National Park camp site were as responsible as you are,
and didn't spill cheetos all over the tent pads.

You have many times accused people of making decisions based on "not knowing
the facts". So, where did you learn your facts? What are the sources? Here
are a couple of interest:
(Note, this just focuses on Alaska, which might not extrapolate cleanly to
other areas) 

(Note, these are only reports of fatalities, not injuries... and there is no
way to know if the list is complete.)

Of course, no statistics are available on the number of people who are in
the total sampling pool, and the debate on who exactly should be included
would be a long one.

Sure, bear attacks are rare, and fatal ones more so, but in the cost/benefit
analysis is carrying an extra 8oz for a few hundred miles (which constitutes
the bulk of Griz range on the CDT) worth some possible alleviation of that
risk? I don't think it's irrational to come to that conclusion. If you're
willing to accept that risk, good for you. 

Thru-hikers are by definition not the kinds of people who live their life
governed by irrational fear. Such people irk me as well. There is way too
much fear in our society. 


-----Original Message-----
From: cdt-l-bounces at backcountry.net [mailto:cdt-l-bounces at backcountry.net]
On Behalf Of Ginny & Jim Owen
Sent: Monday, April 02, 2007 3:23 PM
To: cdt-l at backcountry.net
Subject: Re: [cdt-l] Bear Spray

Jonathan -
>That's simply not true. Bears (I'm talking mostly about grizzlies) attack
>people for a variety of reasons, loosely grouped:
>- Habituated bears who associate people with food

are dead bears.

>- Mothers defending young
>- Surprised bears

yes to both of the above

>- Bears who feel threatened by your presence

this is an extension of the other reasons (cubs, food source, surprise)

>- Protecting a kill/carcass/food source


>- Curious young bears testing the waters
>- Desperate old starving bears

neither of those is at all likely

>Each of these can lead to a quite different set of behavior by the bear, 
>each requires a unique approach to improving your odds of getting out of 
>situation safely. Some of these situations can indeed lead to feeding

no, they all lead to a bluff charge which may be aggraavated by "your" 

the one least likely (but not unknown) situatioin is a "rogue" (insane) 
bear.  But "old, starving and curious" are not operative words in that 
particular case.

What I said below is absolutely true - bear danger is over-hyped and mostly 
false.  In 17 years I've heard of a (VERY) small number of hiker-bear 
encounters (of the close kind).  There have been, to my knowledge, NO 
injuries, no deaths, no real attacks.  Tell me again why, given the actual 
statistics and lack of evidence for need,  you'd carry bear spray.

Oh yeah - statistics.  Re: you previous post - your analogies fail the 
validity test.  There are 40K auto deaths every year.  There are (how many?)

bicycle deaths every year.  Do you use seat belts/helmets out of fear?  Yes.

  Is there reason for that fear?  Yes.

But by your logic, a hiker should also be carrying a .45, a massive First 
Aid kit, a PLB, a GPS, a 2-meter radio, ......  How far do we want to extend


Yes, I said a .45 - I've been hassled by redneck idiots more times than I've

been challenged by bears - as have any number of other hikers.  
Statistically, the .45 makes more sense than the bear spray.  Just don't try

to use it for bear defense.  <g>

There are, on average, two (2) bear related deaths every year (both grizlzy 
and black bear).  There have been no (0) thruhiker deaths or injuries over 
the last (at least) 17 years.  To repeat myself - tell me again why, other 
than fear and ignorance, one would carry the extra weight.

To answer your other questions - sing louder; in Glacier and Yellowstone the

campsites have bear poles and you shouldn't be sleeping with your food; 
grizzly territory stretches from the Canadian border to Dubois, WY; the 
Grizzly Man was an idiot - romantic, perhaps, but still an idiot from day 1 
(remember what I said about the difference between faith and the lack of 
common sense),

And then - no one's talking about paranoia - that's an entirely different 
subject.  But we are certainly talking about irrational fear based on 
ignorance of real statistics, bear behavior and psychology, the necessity of

paying attention to one's surroundings (for example - not constantly doing 
the IPOD thing).

Finally - I won't miss any meals if someone else carries (or doesn't carry) 
bear spray.  But I DO get annoyed when people do things for reasons they 
don't understand - and then try to justify their actions with false 
reasoning.  If you're gonna carry bear spray, you'll be doing it out of fear

- NOT because the statistics indicate a real need for it.  Justifying it for

other reasons is simply self-deception - or perhaps self-delusion.  One 
should at least be honest enough to not lie to themselves about the reasons 
for their actions.

Walk softly,

>-----Original Message-----
>From: cdt-l-bounces at backcountry.net [mailto:cdt-l-bounces at backcountry.net]
>On Behalf Of Ginny & Jim Owen
>Sent: Monday, April 02, 2007 11:10 AM
>To: cdt-l at backcountry.net
>Subject: Re: [cdt-l] Bear Spray
> >
> >I know you're talking about "what one's brain will instinctively do", but

> >just wanted to note that playing possum isn't always the best defense
> >against a bear attack. It often is, but it really depends on the 
> >Sometimes, such an approach can lead the bear to feeding behavior.
> >
> >-Jonathan
>Hmmm - you only "play possum"  as a LAST resort with a grizzly - NEVER do 
>with a black bear.  That's where the feeding behavior comes in.
>Situation in Denali a couple years ago - a European hiker forgot what he 
>supposed to do and played possum as soon as the bear moved toward him.  
>got curious and "played" with him to see what he was.  Result: some minor
>scratches and a really scared hiker.
>The perception that a bear is interested in you for "feeding" purposes is
>99.999% both false and over-hyped.  Bears just want to be left alone.
>Their business is feeding (but not on humans) and raising their young
>(without the interference of the PTA or the teachers union).
>Walk softly,


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