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Thread: Hancocks campground on the Kanc closed August 11-25, 2022 due to bears

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    Senior Member B the Hiker's Avatar
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    Hancocks campground on the Kanc closed August 11-25, 2022 due to bears

    Well, the subject line says it all. People aren't taking bears seriously, and it is having an effect.

    Brian

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    Moderator David Metsky's Avatar
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    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 Rhody Seth's Avatar
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    Sounds like people turned the Hancocks Campground into Tripoli Road.

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    Senior Member sierra's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rhody Seth View Post
    Sounds like people turned the Hancocks Campground into Tripoli Road.
    The new age of hikers. They were raised entitled and they have taken that way of life into the mountains. The trails are jammed with people, routes like Franconia ridge are pounded into the ground on weekends and it doesn't bother any of them. The parking lots and trails for that matter are strewn with litter and feces. Now the public campgrounds are paying the price. I've actually been looking at relocating to Alaska. My house is worth a decent amount and the thought of leaving the masses behind is more appealing by the day. I'd rather deal with the grizzly's at this point.

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    Senior Member dug's Avatar
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    There's been bear problems off and on throughout campgrounds in the WMNF as long as I can remember. How far back to the "new age" of hikers go? The 70's?

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    Senior Member Scubahhh's Avatar
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    Closed for two weeks? Is the theory that the habituated bears will miraculously de-habituate themselves in two weeks?
    Add life to your years!

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    My guess is that is how long they get hungry enough to crawl into a culvert trap. Just as likely the bears will travel to the nearest open site.

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    Senior Member sierra's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dug View Post
    There's been bear problems off and on throughout campgrounds in the WMNF as long as I can remember. How far back to the "new age" of hikers go? The 70's?
    Back in the 70's there were no bear proof dumpsters or trash cans, so occasionally bears did create a nuisance in the campgrounds. With the improvement of the facilities, bears are less prone to find food, but it takes thoughtful campers to make the system work, bears are quite resourceful. Since you asked, 2005 or so is about right.

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    Senior Member skiguy's Avatar
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    Itís a rotation. There was one doing The Pemi Loop a while back. He was spotted at Guyout and then Liberty only like a night a part. Probably an exaggeration but that one was getting around. Thatís the bears Iím talking about not a new ager.
    "I'm getting up and going to work everyday and I am stoked. That does not suck!"__Shane McConkey

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    Senior Member dug's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sierra View Post
    Back in the 70's there were no bear proof dumpsters or trash cans, so occasionally bears did create a nuisance in the campgrounds. With the improvement of the facilities, bears are less prone to find food, but it takes thoughtful campers to make the system work, bears are quite resourceful. Since you asked, 2005 or so is about right.
    Are you suggesting it all started to go downhill in 2005? I assume you weren't around the Whites in the 70's then.

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    When I was in high school (pre modern internet) and before the Lincoln Woods lot existed a friend and I did a hike into the Pemi around 1980. There were big signs at all trailheads about bear issues at Thoreau Falls, Francona Brook and Desolation Shelter. The posters were of a large growling bear and backpackers were warned that any food was left out and not hung would be stolen by bears. This was the days before the FPA along the East Branch and the river was lined with campsites. Thoreau Falls trail was quite similar, small campsites in very flat spot along the river. We ran into a FS biologist who specialized managing wildlife encounters with guests. She pointed out that it was the same group of bears that rotated between the three sites on nightly basis. The FS regarded the bears as a management tool of reducing visitor use as the backcountry was getting overrun. When we got to Desolation Shelter that afternoon, someone was looking for their backpack that had been stolen from the shelter a few hours earlier during the daytime. The bears were habituated and would bluff charge the shelter and grab whatever smelled good and then would haul it into the woods to pick through. Contrary to the name, Desolation shelter was a very popular place, typically in excess of 50 people would be camped in the area and most had no clue about food management, so the bears got educated and rewarded for their aggressiveness and they trained their offspring. The biologist told us that as long as person was not attacked by a bear (rather than being bluff charged) there was no plan to deal with the bears and they would stick with hiker education. This went on for several years until Lincoln Woods parking lot was opened with great fanfare. The bears soon switched up their schedule adding the parking lot to their schedule and learned a new skill of breaking into cars. That did not last long as the general public was being impacted and it was easy to trap and truck bears from the parking lot. Things settled down for several years after that.

    13 Falls had a run of many years with nightly bear visits culminating with the designated cooking area and a bear box installation. That led to bears actively bluff charging the cooking area and grabbing any food bags and food being cooked. I think a few bears did get killed eventually and the problems are reportedly less. That also lined up with a big increase in bear issues at spots that had not seen problems previously at Garfield Shelter, Guyot and Liberty. Its not just the same bear, Sows teach their cubs and when the cubs mature they have to find new territory so they go where they are trained to and that is the nearest campsite. If the eating is real good, bears will tolerate other bears so the density goes up in areas around campsites.

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    Member briarpatch's Avatar
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    I stayed at Big Rock Campground around the 4th of July which is few miles east of Hancock Campground. They had warning signs for bear activity, recommendations to store food in a locked vehicle, and they had number of bear boxes located around the campground. Bear boxes is not something I would not normally expect to see with drive to sites. But for us travelling on motorcycles with soft panniers the bear boxes were nice to have.

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    Senior Member B the Hiker's Avatar
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    If people haven't read it, Mary Roach's book, Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law, is a wonderful read! She has two brisk and engrossing chapters on local communities and bears--although the whole book is magnificent.

    Her point is that humans in bear country can take actions to keep bears out of our food, or we can be lazy. When bears act as bears do, and get used to eating human's food, suddenly there is a "bear problem." As the Forest Service notes, "a fed bear is a dead bear."

    We have a lot of people going into the Whites now, and they have no respect for the wilderness. Look, we just someone on Views say that if anyone knew of an illegal place to camp, they could feel free to message him privately!

    The system just can't keep up with the new volume. We're seeing trails transformed, illegal campsites literally everywhere, selfies of people feeding birds, and the bears are getting--perhaps inadvertently--and they will be killed because of it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by B the Hiker View Post
    The system just can't keep up with the new volume. We're seeing trails transformed, illegal campsites literally everywhere, selfies of people feeding birds, and the bears are getting--perhaps inadvertently--and they will be killed because of it.
    Makes me appreciate Baxter's mission of prioritizing the wildlife first over people. I'd rather see campground closures versus bears being killed because of lazy people.

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    Senior Member JustJoe's Avatar
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    As stated, this is nothing new. I was a regular at Hancock Campground for years. There's no if about bears visiting in the middle of the night looking for food. I myself, one time, forgot to bring my trash to the dumpster before going to bed. Got woken in the middle of the night, to the sound of it being ravaged. Got my flashlight and looked out to see a bear running off with. But that was one time, in 100. Still, it was a stupid mistake. In the years I was a regular camper, you rarely heard of a bear getting into someone's food or trash because pretty much everyone took the signs seriously and complied. Not sure how this is related to hikers. The campgrounds like Hancock are more, Joe camper. So I'd say the, "New age" campers are ignorant of the seriousness of the bear issues. This is what, the 3rd Campground closure this year? Two due to bears receiving rewards. And I definitely agree that closing it for a couple weeks isn't going to change decades of habit. Of course unless it's the idiot human habits they're trying to change.
    Joe

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