Bear attacks this past weekend

Even though Glacier is the focal point, the Flathead and the surrounding area presents boundless activities, talk about it here.

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Bear attacks this past weekend

Post by teapot57 »

Two bear attacks made the news this past weekend.

A 73-year-old woman was hospitalized with injuries she sustained in an Oct. 1 bear attack which took place on a section of the Flathead National Forest located near the U.S.-Canada border north of Polebridge:

https://flatheadbeacon.com/2023/10/02/w ... wmzPDg8Gnc


And sadly, a couple and their dog died after a bear attack in Banff National Park. This one is a developing story but it sounds particularly scary, as it must have been a terrifying drawn out attack, since one of them had time to send out a Garmin SOS. This happened in a remote section of Banff and if I’m not mistaken, they were dispersed camping and not in an established Parks Canada campground:

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/ ... -1.6983944

Bears are hungry and food is limited this time of year. Be careful out there.
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Re: Bear attacks this past weekend

Post by paul »

I wonder if the the Canadian national parks will start to ban dogs on trails. I'm not saying that the dog in this case was the cause of the attack but it makes sense that a dog could agitate a bear and bring on an attack.
We are in the mountains and the mountains are in us. - John Muir
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Re: Bear attacks this past weekend

Post by teapot57 »

It totally makes sense, Paul, and that’s why dogs are supposed to be leashed at all times in the backcountry. Such
a sad story, and it has the hiking and backpacking community pretty shook up around here. They were very experienced folks. More details are emerging.

https://globalnews.ca/news/10005074/bea ... ObV8_tRHpc
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Re: Bear attacks this past weekend

Post by llholmes1948 »

It is interesting that this bear stayed in the area after the attack. I have to wonder if the bear considered the bodies of the campers and the body of the dog as a food cache and if that is why it stayed in the area and why it attacked members of the rescue party.
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Re: Bear attacks this past weekend

Post by Selkie »

With respect to dog, from the photos in the article teapot linked, the dog appears to have been well trained.
“We believe that’s what they were doing,” said Inglis, adding the dog would have been in the tent with the couple before the attack.
An old sow, hungry, poor dentition.
Very sad story.
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Re: Bear attacks this past weekend

Post by zozeppelin »

Interested to hear perspective on causes and solutions/tools and their effectiveness in general.

For instance, Selkie, you seem to be eluding to the bear conditions being more of a cause than the dog (not trying to put words in your mouth). I also read into previous comments that having pets seems to be unwise.

I’m coming at this from a perspective of ignorance and trying to learn. I’m also a numbers person, and I realize that statistically it is highly improbable to be involved in a bear attack, be interested to understand what contributes or helps (in a numbers / sensitivity sense). Or to put it in simpler words- did any of it matter (dog, bear spray, no firearm, following good food storages practices, etc) or was this just a ‘wrong place wrong time’ outlier due to health of bear and time of year?

I went to Tetons earlier this year, and it is a very different approach to camping/bears. I’m thinking about Sierras next year and that again is another ballgames (regulations are different and so are the bears as I understand it).

Would really appreciate some perspective from the experience here. I’m all for following the rules (to a fault, assuming they are implicitly good, because they are the rules), but wanting to understand beyond as ‘rules vary’.
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Re: Bear attacks this past weekend

Post by paul »

No way to really know what happened but statistically a bear in October is likely to be in hyper mode to get food and nourishment. So maybe one thought would be avoid being in bear habitat this time of year (especially where there are much fewer people around).

I've heard people say the bears in the Banff area are more aggressive than say Glacier park. That might have been a factor as well.

The bear might have already been food conditioned and associated tents with food. It seems from the article that it attacked the tent when they were inside. I always wonder about that in Glacier. You could do everything right but someone before you put food in their tent and bear got it. So you wake up at night with a bear clawing their way into your tent.

Since the dog was a Border Collie I suspect that they were not keeping the dog leashed the whole time. That breed is very active and runs a lot. They are also barkers. I'm not saying that the dog had anything to do with the attack though.

I saw comments on some of the news stories where people were saying they would have definitely survived if they had a gun. Not sure agree with that.
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Re: Bear attacks this past weekend

Post by Selkie »

Quite a lot is unknown, and likely never will be known.
The attack on the tent caught my eye.
A senior animal with malnutrition and poor dentition seems to be a common factor in some (certainly not all) attacks.
In looking for an attack on Parker Ridge, AB, I came across a separate account of a wolf in poor condition attacking through a tent wall in a nearby public campground:
“Veterinary tests have confirmed that the wolf was in poor condition and likely nearing the end of its natural life span. The wolf’s condition was likely a contributing factor for its unusual behavior, and this remains a very rare incident.”

Parks Canada also confirmed that no food or other attractants were found in or near the Rispolis’ campsite.
article

We don't know what goes through a bear's or wolf's brain when it sees a tent. Or makes other decisions.
:thinking:

zozeppelin, it struck me as just one of those unpredictable things: you take a well-trained dog on 99 backpacking trips in bear country without consequence. On the 100th something terrible happens.
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Re: Bear attacks this past weekend

Post by zozeppelin »

Thanks for the explanation.

I've just started rethinking things once I read further about Ursack - it is only meant to last a period of time and not be impenetrable.

I struggle with the 'everything smelly' has to go in the hang/bag approach - it's just not practical nor sensible to me. I'm smelly, do I go in the bag? Jokes aside, things like fuel (liquid or gas), stoves, non-organic/consumables have me questioning what does the science or statistics say. Do all smells equally attract bears? I'm guessing nothing as there aren't enough samples and there are many compounding factors. Or to put it more bluntly, if it is just a crapshoot and if you run into the wrong bear at the wrong place at the wrong time, the housekeeping doesn't matter.

I'm all for minimizing impact while in the park. I also recognize there is a relationship between bears becoming conditioned on human food and bear interactions, so everything within reason should be done to minimize that. But, all that said, do any of the non-food non-contaminated items move the needle in that regard? I get the though of 'well you could have spilled food on your stove or fuel', but I counter that with one could have spilled food on themselves/clothing as well. I can appreciate the NPS approach of having simple rules to improve adherence and effectiveness, likely erroring on the side of caution, but I'm curious from a personal safety standpoint, what matters and what is just window dressing.
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