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Thread: Bear encountered on Cannon Mountain, what is the right thing to do?

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    Senior Member HuiYeng's Avatar
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    Bear encountered on Cannon Mountain, what is the right thing to do?

    I was hiking on Cannon Mountain Saturday, and was 90% sure I saw a black bear off the Kinsman Ridge trail about a mile or so from the junction of Fishing Jimmy trail. I didn't see the head of the bear but my instinct tell me that's a bear and I ran...

    WSC and I saw a moose once on Mt Tecumseh, we backed away slowly and the moose eventually just walked away.

    What is the right thing to do when you see a bear or a moose on a trail? I don't think run away is the right thing to do, but just felt right at the time.


    Here is from my journal:
    ...I arrived at the summit around noon and was a little too early to go down, so I looked at my map and decided to hike deeper into Kinsman Ridge trail to look for the Cannon Balls. I set up a turn around time at 2 PM and off I went.

    I ran into 2 groups of hiker hiking out from the wood as I was hiking in. The trail was clearly marked and well maintained, it wasn't spooky at all. I reached a small wooded summit just about 2 PM, I took off my backpack and climbed up a small rock to take pictures of the views. I planned to stick to my turn around time, but was thinking about took a quick bite first before I headed back. Just when I was about to reach in my backpack to grab my snacks, I heard branches snapping in the wood, it sounded like a heavy being stepping on the branches, not birds or chipmunks. My immediate thought was that must be other hikers. So I turned around and looked into the wood, but what I saw was a black thigh of what looked like a small bear moving in the wood. I didn't see the head, but from I could see it gave me enough information to recognize that as a cub, and the mother may be near by too. I grabbed my backpack (unzipped), my trekkng poles and my map and ran pretty damn fast.

    As soon as I felt safer and know for sure I wasn't being chased (like I can ever out-run a bear :-), I stopped and put on my backpack and hiked very fast out. In fact so fast that I caught up with the 2nd guy I ran into while hiking in (when he was hiking out). I told him about the inccident and he told me that black bears are quite common in this part of the Whites.

    As soon as I got down the mountain, I drove to a small bookstore in Lincoln (NH) where the owner Steve Smith is an expert of the Whites (He is the co-author of the AMC White Mountain Guide). I just wanna make sure it could be a bear that I saw on the mountain, he confirmed that bears are common in the Whites...

  2. #2
    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
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    Running is the worst thing you can do--it can trigger a predator response. You don't stand a chance of outrunning it--a bear can run up to 30mph (IIRC). Black bears (grizzlys are not found in the NE) can climb trees far better than you.

    General rule of thumb is to stand your ground or back off slowly. Don't stare it in the eyes (a threat posture). If you are stationary and it keeps coming toward you, make noise, yell, make yourself look as big as possible (open your jacket, hold your arms up, etc). Black bears will generally back off if you make enough noise. If it gets your food or pack--don't try to take it away (it is the bear's food now). Make every effort to avoid getting between a mother and her cubs. (And don't try to take close-up photos of the cubs--you'd be surprised what some people have done to get cute pictures of the cubs...)

    Almost all black bears' interest in you is actually in your food. Predatory attacks on humans (ie you are being viewed as food) are rare. If a black bear not protecting cubs attacks you, fight back.

    Generally, if you make enough noise to be heard, the bears will get out of your way before you encounter them. Encounters are most likely if you are near a noisy stream and/or are moving into the wind. (Their noses will put a bloodhound to shame.)

    Don't intentionally feed them--it only trains them to associate people with food. This only causes more problems and may lead to the bear being executed.

    Black bears and grizzlys act differently--much of the above applies only to black bears.

    I suggest that you read "Bear Attacks, Their Causes and Avoidance", by Stephen Herrero, perhaps the definitive reference.

    Doug

  3. #3
    Senior Member evilhanz's Avatar
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    Doug's advice is spot on. I've had about half a dozen close encouters with black bears on the trail and they were all over before I had time to consider whether or not I might be in danger. Even when two bears came charging up the same trail in the space of five minutes, it was clear that they were fleeing a group of hikers coming from the other direction. They veered off the trail the instant they noticed me. The most dangerous black bears are the ones you find around towns and established campsites.

    Noise isn't as effective against moose. Let them know you are there, of course, but my experience has been that they don't spook as easily, and seem generally disinterested if you keep your distance. Back off deliberately or give them a wide berth. Keep your eyes open for a thick stand of trees in case one becomes territorial.
    Last edited by evilhanz; 09-05-2006 at 12:26 AM.

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    Just reach for your camera, that single motion seems very effective at deterring any wildlife that I've ever encountered

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    Senior Member audrey's Avatar
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    In 25 years of hiking, we've had perhaps 6 bear and a dozen close moose encounters, and only once did we get threatened (moose). He wasn't going to yield the road and his favorite snacking place and ushered us out of his territory with his rack swinging back and forth.

    Be grateful for the small glimpses you can get - and yes, reaching for your camera will sppok them faster than anything!

  6. #6
    Senior Member Paradox's Avatar
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    I guess I was lucky, in that I at least got pictures of him, but check out my account of N Kennebago and White Cap this past weekend.
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    Senior Member Abster's Avatar
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    Hi 7S-

    Wow - how exciting and scary at the same time! Glad it all worked out. I have heard the same things as DougPaul.

    Stay safe!

    Hanna

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    Senior Member marty's Avatar
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    What is it about Cannon Mountain and bears? I have encountered bears there on four separate occasions. Fortunately only once was the encounter up close and personal. In that case, I stayed still and the medium sized bear eventually moved off the trail without incident.

    BTW, I also concur with Doug Paul's advice regarding bear encounters.
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    Member jime's Avatar
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    Buck Tilto's New Book

    Buck Tilton's new book on tips for backpacking (I don't remember the exact title) had an interesting approach to close bear encounters. He suggests lifting your backpack over your head to increase your perceived size and that doing this may deter a bear because it thinks you are too big to bother with. I've been practicing this with my daughter for years by putting her on my shoulders and didn't even realize that it could come in handy some day!

  10. #10
    Senior Member giggy's Avatar
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    the NH fish and game has a nice site on the issue.

    http://www.wildlife.state.nh.us/Wild...lack_bears.htm

    Although, I have never seen it, there is typically a black bear or 2 hangin around the ski slopes at cannon mtn when you drive in the early am thru the notch. people in the samr car as me have seen it - but I personally never have!
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    Senior Member jbrown's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jime
    Buck Tilton's new book on tips for backpacking (I don't remember the exact title) had an interesting approach to close bear encounters. He suggests lifting your backpack over your head to increase your perceived size and that doing this may deter a bear because it thinks you are too big to bother with. I've been practicing this with my daughter for years by putting her on my shoulders and didn't even realize that it could come in handy some day!
    That actually makes a ton of sense. What a cool idea! I'm filing this away in my "what-to-do-when-encountering-big-wildlife" mental file.
    He who forms the mountains, creates the wind, and reveals his thoughts to man, he who turns dawn to darkness, and treads the high places of the earth— the LORD God Almighty is his name. Amos 4:13

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    Senior Member sardog1's Avatar
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    Herrero is da man on the ursine--human interface.

    As for moose, the AK Department of Fish & Game has published their excellent Aggressive Moose (which is not the name of an indie band but maybe should be.)
    sardog1

    "Å! kjære Bymann gakk ei stjur og stiv,
    men kom her up og kjenn eit annat Liv!
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    og Drykk og Tørste og det heile, som
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    Buck Tilton's new book on tips for backpacking (I don't remember the exact title) had an interesting approach to close bear encounters. He suggests lifting your backpack over your head to increase your perceived size and that doing this may deter a bear because it thinks you are too big to bother with.
    Interesting.

    I actually kinda disagree with this approach.

    1. You are more likely to drop your pack, with this approach, if the bear charges (bluffs). Bears that associate packs with food become problem bears.

    2. If the bear does attack/gets you...the pack, if on, will act as some protection and hopefully re-enforce to the bear you are not food/threat.

    Hey...Mr. Tilton...knows a lot more than me...just MO.

    peace.
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  14. #14
    dvbl
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    Quote Originally Posted by 7summits
    ...What is the right thing to do when you see a bear...on a trail? I don't think run away is the right thing to do, but just felt right at the time...
    1-Rub honey all over body
    2-Stand between sow and cubs
    3-Hire publicist
    4-File lawsuit (it MUST be somebody's fault)

    Back to reality...just Google "HERRERO + BEARS". You'll get more bear info than you could ever ask for (Grizzlies and Blacks).

  15. #15
    Senior Member Mattl's Avatar
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    haha I think dvbl has the right idea. We have been through this bear disscusion quite a few times and the answer is simply a bear will not do anything to you. They will run. The only time you can have a situation is with cubs or if you dont hang your food. I learned my lesson very badly for not hanging my food when I was in the pemi. -Mattl

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