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Thread: Black bear causing concerns in Pemi around Owl's Head

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    Black bear causing concerns in Pemi around Owl's Head

    Heard talk over the weekend of a black bear snatching someone's backpack and was advised not to leave my pack at the bottom of Owls Head on Saturday. There were a couple of packs there already and I didn't relish the thought of the slide with a full pack so I left it, sans any food, and climbed up and down uneventfully. A couple of hours later on the way out a runner caught up to us on the Lincoln Brook trail, out of breath saying he had just been "run off the mountain by a bear". He said it was unafraid of humans and there were hikers on the other side of the bear making a racket and waving their poles.

    Another 2 miles down the trail someone else caught up to us saying the same thing, and he was looking for his buddy who may have bushwhacked down the other side of Owls Head. We left him at the junction of Franconia Brook Trail where he was going to wait a while for him. Hope they all made it out safely. Anyone hear of this? I checked the news reports, didn't see anything.
    Last edited by Hachi; 09-24-2019 at 02:31 PM. Reason: spelling

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    Moderator David Metsky's Avatar
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    Welcome Hachi. I've moved this thread from Trail Conditions - New Hampshire which is a forum that doesn't allow responses.

    There have been problem bears in the Pemi for years, and the last two summers there have been serious problems with a Pemi bear, especially around Owlshead. The bear has discovered that hikers often leave their packs at the base of the slide when going up to the summit, and as a result has become acclimatized to humans and human food. There was/is a sign at the base of the slide telling hikers not to leave their packs there, but it has had limited impact. Leaving your pack is strongly advised against, as it's likely to result in the bear being euthanized because it has become a danger to hikers.

    There are posts and photos of the bear on the various 4000'er Facebook groups. I suspect there will be some action taken soon, as the bear is no longer afraid of people.
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    Senior Member dailey7779's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hachi View Post
    a runner caught up to us on the Lincoln Brook trail, out of breath saying he had just been "run off the mountain by a bear". He said it was unafraid of humans
    That was me! Yeah, that bear followed me from the ridge to Brutus Rock where I finally lost him, but he then caught up to the hiker you saw who was looking for his buddy. It was quite the experience, a little terrifying to have him continuously come to within five feet of me and only stop when I banged a downed branch into the ground or against a tree.

    -Chris

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    I have no doubt that this bear got its training from the 13 falls tent site bears that have been very aggressive for many years.

    I was at Owls head last summer and despite the warning signs, there were several packs left at the junction of the Owls Head Path and the Lincoln Brook Trail by folks heading up to the summit. Easy pickings for habituated bear.

    With respect to someone bushwhacking down to the east side from the summit, I have been there done that, there is no particular redeeming value to that route except guaranteed solitude .

    NHPR had a recent podcast about hiking Owls head peak recently, I expect there will be an uptick in people hiking to it. https://www.nhpr.org/post/owl-s-head...4000-footers-0

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    Senior Member Grey J's Avatar
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    I never drop my pack and become separated from it regardless of the terrain. I want my pack and everything in it to be close at hand at all times.
    I wonder how other people feel about this practice in general, even if you leave the bear out of the equation.
    "I am a pilgrim and a stranger"

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    Senior Member maineguy's Avatar
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    Any theories on why bears are becoming a problem? We backpacked extensively during the 60s in the Pemi and never once saw a bear. Never hung a bear bag. Hell, we even cooked and ate in our tents in foul weather when not in a shelter. And, nobody else did either. It just wasn't necessary. So, what changed?

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    Senior Member skiguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maineguy View Post
    Any theories on why bears are becoming a problem? We backpacked extensively during the 60s in the Pemi and never once saw a bear. Never hung a bear bag. Hell, we even cooked and ate in our tents in foul weather when not in a shelter. And, nobody else did either. It just wasn't necessary. So, what changed?
    More people and getting advice from Facebook.
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    Moderator David Metsky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maineguy View Post
    Any theories on why bears are becoming a problem? We backpacked extensively during the 60s in the Pemi and never once saw a bear.
    The bear population has increased with their territory decreasing. More uneducated hikers leaving more food to be found, lots more hikers than in the 60's. Bears are smart and once they learn a beneficial behavior they teach their young and it can persist long after eliminating a single problem bear.

    The same things happened in the Daks, where bear canisters are now required in the High Peaks. Back in the 80's Brutus the Bear was infamous for charging at hikers to make them drop their packs, which he would then search for food in peace and quiet. It's not really new, it's just more frequent.
    You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself, any direction you choose. -- Dr. Seuss

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    Senior Member sierra's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grey J View Post
    I never drop my pack and become separated from it regardless of the terrain. I want my pack and everything in it to be close at hand at all times.
    I wonder how other people feel about this practice in general, even if you leave the bear out of the equation.
    I have done it to make a fast dash to a summit, most of the time its to beat an incoming storm. Not something, I do in NH much, but out West I have a few times.

    In regards to the Pemi Bear, as much as I love wildlife, this bear needs to be euthanized. Chasing a hiker repeatedly to within 5 ft., he's going to get someone and soon.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sierra View Post
    In regards to the Pemi Bear, as much as I love wildlife, this bear needs to be euthanized. Chasing a hiker repeatedly to within 5 ft., he's going to get someone and soon.
    Nothing like a good bear attack to cull the herd and discourage use of a busy area. Win-win.

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    Quote Originally Posted by maineguy View Post
    Any theories on why bears are becoming a problem? We backpacked extensively during the 60s in the Pemi and never once saw a bear. Never hung a bear bag. Hell, we even cooked and ate in our tents in foul weather when not in a shelter. And, nobody else did either. It just wasn't necessary. So, what changed?
    I've never seen a bear in the Pemi, either. Only animals coming into our Pemi camps have been pine marten, boy scouts, and loud "misfits" at 5am.

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    I didn't see any sign there, but I don't suppose I looked very hard either. I guess in the future, I will not leave my pack anywhere! Thanks for moving the post, I didn't realize that you couldn't respond in the other thread. Rookie!

    Chris, I am glad you made it out safely! You really have my respect running out there. I have one speed. SLOW! Owl's Head was one of the tougher hikes, even without the worry of bears!

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    Quote Originally Posted by maineguy View Post
    Any theories on why bears are becoming a problem? We backpacked extensively during the 60s in the Pemi and never once saw a bear. Never hung a bear bag. Hell, we even cooked and ate in our tents in foul weather when not in a shelter. And, nobody else did either. It just wasn't necessary. So, what changed?
    In the past, weather conditions which limit the growth of natural food sources as berries has been cited as having a causal relationship between human bear interactions (90's or 00's)? As I recall the bears were becoming particularly aggressive and intimidating in both the ADKs and Whites.

    But of course leaving food out for bears in a container with human odors is causal too. And that is something that should be controlled. If not, look forward to threads about having to buy, rent, and carry heavy bear vaults...

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    Senior Member dug's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoshandBaron View Post
    I've never seen a bear in the Pemi, either. Only animals coming into our Pemi camps have been pine marten, boy scouts, and loud "misfits" at 5am.
    Ha, well, they likely saw you

    I have seen a few, and definitely had an experience with Brutus that wasn't comfortable. This wasn't long before he was put down.

    Bears are more prevalent in many places now. I never considered seeing one in Southern NH, but I now see them several times throughout the summer.

    More people overall, more careless people in particular, and less habitat = more encounters

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    40 years ago there were ongoing bear issues at the now torn down Desolation Shelter, along Thoreau Falls trail and Franconia Fall campsite. There were lots of warnings but the WMNF regarded the bear issues as crowd control. As long as the bear stuck to stealing food and did not attack humans they didn't deal with them. Nothing was done until the new Lincoln Woods parking lot was opened with much fanfare. The bear then added the parking lot to their rounds and after a few problems at Lincoln Woods the bears were removed.

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