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Big Bend in the News => Regional News => Topic started by: Quatro on August 14, 2018, 07:17:47 PM

Title: NM bear encounter
Post by: Quatro on August 14, 2018, 07:17:47 PM
More than an encounter I guess.  No bluff in this bear.


https://www.kxan.com/news/new-mexico-man-explains-how-he-survived-a-bear-attack/1368735613

Title: Re: NM bear encounter
Post by: alan in shreveport on August 14, 2018, 08:10:47 PM
One question - why would a big game hunter wait until he was being mauled to shoot the bear ?
Title: Re: NM bear encounter
Post by: backpacker56 on August 15, 2018, 09:05:27 AM
Typical news reporting.  Here we have the victim, a man who seems very intelligent and articulate, but rather than letting him tell his story, the news people have to be the ones telling the story, with a few sound bites thrown in.  Well, at least we got the sound bites; a lot of reporting today seems to consist of news people interviewing each other.

But for this story the burning questions are, what precipitated the attack, and could it have been prevented?  The man says "I got way too close; the bear was aggressive."  This clearly needed further exposition, as the most important and useful part of the story, but nothing more was said about it.
Title: Re: NM bear encounter
Post by: RichardM on August 15, 2018, 09:06:41 AM
Yikes!
Quote
Raton Fire Department, along with Game and Fish, responded to the scene, but moving the nearly 400-pound animal proved challenging so they eventually sawed the bear's head off, leaving it attached to Petrini's leg.

"When they cut the bear's head off then they were able to maneuver to where the could get it off my leg," Petrini said.
Title: Re: NM bear encounter
Post by: dprather on August 15, 2018, 10:20:19 AM
Perhaps this is an old wives tale, but I have been told that Black Bear are the most dangerous when they are aggressive.  Normally non-aggressive, Black Bear, when aggressive, intend to eat you. 

That's what I've been told.

Do any of you sure-fire experts have any corrections or comments.
Title: Re: NM bear encounter
Post by: catz on August 15, 2018, 10:53:26 AM

Well, gee, wouldn't any bear be more dangerous when aggressive?
Title: Re: NM bear encounter
Post by: RichardM on August 15, 2018, 01:57:36 PM
Perhaps this is an old wives tale, but I have been told that Black Bear are the most dangerous when they are aggressive.  Normally non-aggressive, Black Bear, when aggressive, intend to eat you. 

That's what I've been told.

Do any of you sure-fire experts have any corrections or comments.
The advice I recall regarding bear attacks was if it's a Grizzly, play dead and hope it doesn't eat you. If it's a black bear, fight like hell because it's going to kill and/or eat you. Grizzlies will often attack to protect cubs or territory. If you show them you are not a threat, they (eventually) leave you alone. Unless they're hungry, of course. ;) If a black bear attacks, assume you're on the lunch menu.

And as always, examine bear scat to determine if it's from a Black or Brown bear.
(https://uriupina.com/img/480/332011mu.jpg)
Title: Re: NM bear encounter
Post by: fartymarty on August 15, 2018, 03:51:26 PM
 I've heard that joke many many times, but for some reason it never gets old with me.  :icon_lol: :icon_lol:
Title: Re: NM bear encounter
Post by: Quatro on August 15, 2018, 07:05:57 PM
But for this story the burning questions are, what precipitated the attack, and could it have been prevented?  The man says "I got way too close; the bear was aggressive."  This clearly needed further exposition, as the most important and useful part of the story, but nothing more was said about it.

I agree.  But the story was featured and probably edited for the 6 o'clock news.  Those details may have ended up on the cutting room floor.  The eye catching part for me though was extracting the bear from the leg.  Hopefully, some outdoor magazine will pick up the story and include a more complete explanation.  I gotta think the dogs were a major factor.
Title: Re: NM bear encounter
Post by: GaryF on August 15, 2018, 08:27:42 PM
If nothing else, he has a great story to tell the grand children.
Title: Re: NM bear encounter
Post by: backpacker56 on August 15, 2018, 09:37:05 PM
Dick Proenneke, famous for building a cabin in Alaska in 1968 and living there for the next 30 years, said in regard to bear behavior: "I think what the bear thinks is the determining factor.  What I think doesn't count."
Title: Re: NM bear encounter
Post by: Hang10er on August 16, 2018, 07:46:17 AM
But for this story the burning questions are, what precipitated the attack, and could it have been prevented?  The man says "I got way too close; the bear was aggressive."  This clearly needed further exposition, as the most important and useful part of the story, but nothing more was said about it.

The eye catching part for me though was extracting the bear from the leg.  Hopefully, some outdoor magazine will pick up the story and include a more complete explanation.  I gotta think the dogs were a major factor.

No bear experience.  In my opinion I think a bear (or almost any animal) will attack if they think you are a meal or if threatened, to include feeling their young are threatened.  Facing a bear I think I would be scared.  Maybe this bear was scared and thought it had no option such as running and decided to attack.  The dogs might have something to do with the bear feeling running was not an option.

As for "extracting the bear from the leg" I think it was more like extracting the leg from the bear.  I am assuming during the attack and roll down the hill, the muscle/skin/tissue wrapped up in the bears jaw and they were unable to free it without causing more damage.  So they decapitated the bear and untwisted it by rolling the head.  That's what I get from the story and the picture. 
Title: Re: NM bear encounter
Post by: mule ears on August 16, 2018, 08:53:17 AM
Perhaps this is an old wives tale, but I have been told that Black Bear are the most dangerous when they are aggressive.  Normally non-aggressive, Black Bear, when aggressive, intend to eat you. 

That's what I've been told.

Do any of you sure-fire experts have any corrections or comments.

I have just finished reading "Bear in the Backseat" (https://www.amazon.com/Bear-Back-Seat-Adventures-Mountains-ebook/dp/B00EW8TTQW) by Kim DeLosier who was the chief wildlife ranger in the Smoky Mountains for 30 years.  1600 black bears, 9 million visitors, 2 bears per square mile!  He probably has dealt with and moved more bears than about anyone else.  As of 2000, there has been one known fatality from a black bear in the entire southeastern US, so extremely rare.  That of course does not mean there have not been attacks but the bottom line is they are not out to eat you.  They want your food if they have been habituated to human food, or they are being defensive and you have surprised them or they feel trapped or some other reason like cubs. 

In the NM case it is unknown how the encounter went down and I agree the dogs probably did not help.   The main thing with a black bear encounter is not to run but to try and appear large and more dominate than the bear.  If they continue to attack then fight like hell which he did.

Just two days ago I was out camping on Mt. Mitchell in western NC at a place I have spent at least 20 nights at over 20 years.  I have seen bears within a few thousand feet of my camp (https://40yearsofwalking.wordpress.com/2010/09/01/black-mtns-x-buncombe-horse-trail-808/) and they have closed the area before from too much bear activity (https://40yearsofwalking.wordpress.com/2011/09/06/black-mountains-xiv-811-traverse-of-the-range/) in other campsites close by.  Late in the afternoon I was sitting and reading and heard a noise behind me, I turned an looked to see a pretty big bear 20 feet away, coming out of the bushes on an informal trail.  I jumped up and made my self look large and yelled, he slowly wandered back down the path but didn't go more than 15 yards, he looked a bit confused by finding me there (it is on a dead end side trail off of a lightly used hiker/horse trail and is not used much as it is a dry camp), I threw a rock and he ambled off.  I would have liked to see him more scared and really run away but at least he did not try and continue in my direction.  I had no bear canister and there were no trees to hang food in, I had no tent (which would not stop a bear anyway).  I could have walked the several hours out to my truck but decided to just stay and camp the night, be careful with keeping my food smells reduced in tightly closed in ziplock bags but near me.  I did pick up a pile of rocks to have nearby in case he came back.  The breeze was blowing pretty good to disperse food smells too.  I had an enjoyable evening and had no other sign of the bear.  In the future I guess I will need to carry my bear canister when I camp out there.

The bottom line is bears do not want to be near humans and are scared of them unless they have become habituated to humans (by being around them a lot) or to human food which is easier for them to get than their normal foraging so that is why it is so important for them to never get a taste of human food.

Here are a few comments from a bear biologist (a different guy who works in the west) who has been involved in the management of bears for 35 years and has worked on the formal investigations on numerous human fatalities due to bear attacks:

Most bears are wild and avoid humans and want to stay away from us.  Thus, the training humans about how to store foods when backpacking and training people how to avoid surprise encounters to help bears stay wild.

Bears do forage at night and during the day. We have actually documented through radio-tracking that many bears are active during the day when in areas away from humans and the same bears will become totally nocturnal when they move to areas around humans.

There are 2 basic behaviors of both black bears and grizzly bears that are specifically related to  humans:

1) Habituation – this is the loss of normal fear/avoidance that happens when bears lose their fear of being around humans.  This can happen in or out of National Parks.  Habituated bears are relaxed around humans and do not flee or avoid humans.  Think of bears or along roads (bear jams) or trails in Parks feeding on natural foods or traveling and seeming to ignore humans.  Bears can get habituated by being around humans with little negative results or being taught by their mothers to feed on natural foods around areas with humans (i.e. roadsides).

2) Food conditioning – this happens when bears obtain human-related foods like camp foods or garbage or bird/pet feed.  A bear’s entire existence is driven by finding food and remembering where its was found and how it was obtained.  Thus, once a bear is food conditioned to human-related foods, it will likely continue this behavior to look for this food or its source(s) again. Here we see garbage bears, camp checking bears, bears in bird feeders, etc.

A bear can be habituated and not food conditioned, or food conditioned and not habituated.  Or, the worse case scenario: a bear can be BOTH food conditioned and habituated.  Habituated bears are rarely dangerous unless people get too close to them – think tourists in National Parks trying to get close to roadside bears to take pictures. Habituated bears will not look for human foods in clean backcountry camps.  Wild bears will rarely if ever look for human foods in backcountry camps – they avoid humans.  Remember that most bears are wild bears. Food conditioned bears that are not habituated are wary around people and may hang around camps where they cannot be seen (or homes with bird feeders) but not enter them when humans are present or visit camps or campsites after humans have left to check for food remains in messy camps.

A bear that is BOTH habituated and food conditioned is dangerous to humans and bear managers almost always remove (destroy) such animals.  These bears enter camps with people present and walk right up on porches to get human or pet food or garbage that is accessible.  If you are in a situation where you encounter such a bear, leave and get out of there and report what happened as such bears can be dangerous to humans. Always carry and know how to use bear spray as the best deterrent when in bear habitat!

Mother bears teach their young their learned behaviors. Thus, if a mother bear bear is food conditioned, she will teach her cubs to be food conditioned and to seek human use areas for human foods. The same thing goes for habituated mother bears whose cubs will be less likely to avoid humans (habituated bears rarely approach humans).

It is important to recognize that once bears get food conditioned, they rarely if ever will stop visiting human use areas for food.  This is the basic reason we are all talking about food storage in backcountry areas. Proper food storage in the backcountry (and the front country) is the key to keeping bears wild and avoiding food conditioning.

Bears can smell foods in camps or in hanging bags or in bear resistant food containers, even from a long way off.  The reason bears do not enter camps or try to climb up trees and get food bags is that MOST bears are wild bears avoid humans and human use areas and are not either food conditioned or habituated.

Hanging your food (ALL your food) in the backcountry and keeping a clean camp with no spilled human food or pet food will keep most bears away from this human-related food and prevent them from becoming food conditioned.

While it is true that a determined food conditioned black bear or grizzly bear can climb a tree and get a food bag if it really wants to, this will really only happen with a seriously food conditioned bear.

All of everyone’s efforts to hang foods in the backcountry and keep clean camps is directed at one basic objective: to keep bears wild and avoid food conditioning a bear.  It is really up to all of us backcountry users to do our part to keep bears wild.  If we are sloppy and leave human foods about or available to bears, we will have changed that bear and made it into a permanently food conditioned bear that will be a problem to others who use the backcountry.  When we see bears that seek human foods in human use areas, or check camp sites after people have left, or try to climb trees to get food bags, this is because some other backcountry user has not done the right thing and made a wild bear into a food conditioned bear.  When this happens, we clean campers and food bag hangers face a serious problem not of our making.  Everyone has to work to do the right thing to keep bears wild and keep backcountry camping safe and bear problem free.
Title: Re: NM bear encounter
Post by: Hang10er on August 16, 2018, 03:41:46 PM
Mule Ears, your stories and trip reports have always impressed me.  To casually write that you had a relaxed evening after encountering a bear like you did, that takes the cake! 

I think I could stand my ground and shout and wave and all that.  After the bear left though, I'm not sure I could stay in the area!!!
Title: Re: NM bear encounter
Post by: alan in shreveport on August 16, 2018, 08:43:30 PM
ME - would this be one thats too use to humans ? (Smoky MT. NP)
Title: Re: NM bear encounter
Post by: mule ears on August 16, 2018, 08:45:02 PM
ME - would this be one thats too use to humans ? (Smoky MT. NP)

Yeah, when they know how to open the doors it's a bad sign, when they learn to turn on the ignition it's time to leave the area!   :icon_eek:
Title: Re: NM bear encounter
Post by: mule ears on August 16, 2018, 08:51:23 PM
Mule Ears, your stories and trip reports have always impressed me.  To casually write that you had a relaxed evening after encountering a bear like you did, that takes the cake! 

I think I could stand my ground and shout and wave and all that.  After the bear left though, I'm not sure I could stay in the area!!!

I guess one of the reasons I was not freaked out was the bear did not seem after me or my food, more just trying to get down the trail.  My other really close encounter was in the Smokies when we had taken refuge from the rain on the porch of an old house in the backcountry one night and heard a noise below and thought it was a raccoon or something.  We looked over the rail and there was bear 5 feet below us who looked at us and wandered off.  We had already hung our food and spent the night without any trouble.  Turns out the bear had taken up residence under the house and was known to be there.  I think both experiences are examples of being habituated to people but not human food.
Title: Re: NM bear encounter
Post by: alan in shreveport on August 16, 2018, 09:48:59 PM
ME - would this be one thats too use to humans ? (Smoky MT. NP)

Yeah, when they know how to open the doors it's a bad sign, when they learn to turn on the ignition it's time to leave the area!   :icon_eek:


He didn't have the keys so I was safe for that but he did know what to do with the 2 Hostess pies in the front . When he finally left I was surprised to find no scratches, upholstery pulls or even crumbs !
Title: Re: NM bear encounter
Post by: Quatro on August 16, 2018, 10:08:33 PM
Thank you, ME.  That was really informative.  Over the last say 4 years, there have been several stories in Colorado of bears both habituated and food conditioned causing problems.  South Colony Lakes, the Four Pass Loop and a recent bear at Willow Lake.  Below is a post from a Willow Lake camper on August 5th.  This bear was put down soon thereafter.

"Our group, three tents, goes to bed. One tent gets bear activity three times during the night with no food, toothpaste, nothing with an odor. The bear is shooed away twice. The third time, the bear would not leave for several minutes. There were several flashlights and people up and around at approx, 2:30 AM. The bear did stay away from the tents after this event. It did, however, move to the Forest Service installed bear bag cable and was able to get one bag down. At 4:30, our group woke up to prepare for climbing Challenger and Kit Carson. We found the owner of the missing bag looking for the food bag. He found it, along with the bear eating the contents. The gentlemen requested bear spray in order to retrieve his food bag. I respectfully requested that he leave the food bag and avoid a confrontation with the bear. He approached the bear a second time and was able to shoo it and retrieve the bag with just coffee remaining. Our group provided food for the gentleman to still make an attempt at summiting."

Me - I would not have gone back to sleep, would have let the bear finish the contents of the food bag, and swore to bring an ice axe year-round when backpacking.
Title: Re: NM bear encounter
Post by: ggowins on August 17, 2018, 12:57:24 PM
I used to work at Philmont Scout Camp in northern New Mexico.  The times we had problem bears was when there wasn't much in the way of stuff for the bears to forage, so they would turn to camper's food.   Otherwise, they were really skittish and would run away.

My closest approach to a bear was on the Window Trail.  Four years ago I was there on a trip with my parents, and we also brought my cousin's son.  This was his first trip to Big Bend, and we took the hike to the Window our first morning we were there.  While taking a break at a bench near a wash, I heard something small in the brush.  I went over to see what it was, figuring it was an armadillo or rabbit.  Turns out it was a bear!  I was only a couple of feet away from it at that point.  I told them I just saw a bear, to which my mom told me to shut up and stop trying to scare my cousin's son.  :icon_lol: It came out of the brush about 15 feet away, turned to look at us, then turned back and headed up the wash.
Title: Re: NM bear encounter
Post by: dprather on August 17, 2018, 04:40:19 PM
I once came face-to-face with a Black Bear while solo backpacking Arkansas' Eagle Rock Loop.  Ready for just such a possibility, I had my Glock strapped across my chest, several rocks in my pocket, a whistle in my shirt pocket, and a camera in my balloon pants pocket.  An Eagle Scout, I believe in "Be Prepared."

When the bear and I came face to face, both of us froze before he ran away (with truly amazing speed).  I was physically unable to perform any rock throwing, whistle blowing, Glock shooting, or picture taking.  Not on the bear's menu, I lived to tell the story.

Had the bear covered the 20 or so yards that separated us with aggression and speed, I was done for.  There might be some out there with the dexterity of mind and body to respond in milliseconds, but I am not among them.

PS: for the remaining two hours of daylight following that incident, my whistle was death-grip CLINCHED between my teeth and I whistled at EVERY rock, stump, and shadow - have you ever noticed that every one of those darned things has ears?  I suspect that the bear in the Ouachitas still tell the story about the fear-paralyzed backpacker who morphed into Tootsie the Train.

Title: Re: NM bear encounter
Post by: presidio on August 17, 2018, 05:45:33 PM
When the bear and I came face to face, both of us froze before he ran away (with truly amazing speed).  I was physically unable to perform any rock throwing, whistle blowing, Glock shooting, or picture taking.

Had the bear covered the 20 or so yards that separated us with aggression and speed, I was done for.  There might be some out there with the dexterity of mind and body to respond in milliseconds, but I am not among them.

Your experience is an object lesson for everyone.

In an emergency or other high stress situation, two things occur.

First is "fight-or-flight," which does not always result in either. Sometimes, it manifests as paralysis. The latter is much more common in a 'startle' event such as you describe. It takes time to recognize the situation and react appropriately. I'd hazard a guess you also experienced apparent time warping and the event seemed to last longer than it did.

Second, regardless of what happens above, the mind and body always will revert to training. The simple concept is that of 'muscle memory.'

Folks will prepare for an encounter with dangerous wildlife by doing some or all of the things you did, but very few have any real expectation of an encounter and even fewer have any actual response worked out (other than as a mental exercise). After all, how do you train yourself for such an incident? What scenario-based training and frequency of same could a person use to be ready?

In a situation where you have advance notice, such as seeing a bear at a distance and able to ascertain what it is doing, you have time to process the situation and get your bear spray or larger caliber response into play. In a startle event, there is no reflex arc to prod you into instantaneous action such as occurs when you inadvertently touch a dangerously hot (or extremely cold...the reaction is the same) item. In that case the body reacts before you have time to think. That reflex bypasses the brain. Danger from a bear has to go through the brain and be processed for a reaction.

Thus, it is entirely NOT surprising that your reaction (and everyone else in such a situation) would be as it was.

This type of situation is even more applicable to concealed carry. Lots of folks have licenses, but the vast majority do no regular shooting, much less scenario-based training (and all that IS possible for dealing with the most dangerous game). Lack of training results not only in loss of accuracy, but also a fumbling with the mechanical operation of a firearm. That is a huge LIABILITY from a legal perspective, in addition to dealing with the physical threat.

As with the bear, in an encounter with a dangerous person, not only do you have to assess the situation, which slows reaction, but fine motor skills vanish at high speed as the threat level increases. You see this even among law enforcement officers involved in shootings where it is not uncommon to see the majority of shots fired miss the intended target (and these folks train constantly).

It would have been interesting to see what your heart rate was as soon you comprehended the situation (which really was after it was over). I bet the number was impressive.
Title: Re: NM bear encounter
Post by: dprather on August 17, 2018, 06:33:01 PM
Time warp - for sure.  I honestly think the whole thing was over and done wit in 3-5 seconds, maybe even 2-3 seconds (except for the two hours of whistle blowing).

Odd thinking - for sure - I was mostly awed by the coolness of the close encounter of the Bear kind.  The fear reaction didn't set in until after the bear scrammed.  No thought of rock-throwing or etc even entered my mind until some minutes later.

The experience exists in my mind as a sequence of tiny slowed-down out-takes separated by faster blurred stretches.  I am almost certain that the bear was ambling toward his evening drink from the Little Missouri River and that my presence messed up his routine.  I recall that he glanced at me, glanced at the river, and then took off.

I am familiar with firearms, but not trained for conflict, and I am familiar with the reaction concepts your speak of.  But I'm pretty sure that no amount of training could prepare me to respond adequately had the bear decided to attack.  3-5 seconds is the blink of an eye.     

The wonder to me is how bear decide when to ignore you, when to run away, and when to attack.

Title: Re: NM bear encounter
Post by: Hookim on August 23, 2018, 12:43:30 AM
I once came face-to-face with a Black Bear while solo backpacking Arkansas' Eagle Rock Loop.  Ready for just such a possibility, I had my Glock strapped across my chest, several rocks in my pocket, a whistle in my shirt pocket, and a camera in my balloon pants pocket.  An Eagle Scout, I believe in "Be Prepared."

When the bear and I came face to face, both of us froze before he ran away (with truly amazing speed).  I was physically unable to perform any rock throwing, whistle blowing, Glock shooting, or picture taking.  Not on the bear's menu, I lived to tell the story.

Had the bear covered the 20 or so yards that separated us with aggression and speed, I was done for.  There might be some out there with the dexterity of mind and body to respond in milliseconds, but I am not among them.

PS: for the remaining two hours of daylight following that incident, my whistle was death-grip CLINCHED between my teeth and I whistled at EVERY rock, stump, and shadow - have you ever noticed that every one of those darned things has ears?  I suspect that the bear in the Ouachitas still tell the story about the fear-paralyzed backpacker who morphed into Tootsie the Train.
Great story! I laugh a lot reading this forum. I missed this convo before posting mine the other morning, and I'm glad because I might not have slept the night they came-a-knocking on my tent. I thought about the flight/fright response for the next two days - why I wasn't really afraid and reacted basically with "fight". Perhaps because I know there haven't been incidents in BBNP... yet. It's interesting how our bodies react without our reason.

I also wondered about the "consciousness" of lightning since there were so many thunderstorms this trip. How is the where of the strike determined? So much to read.
Title: Re: NM bear encounter
Post by: RichardM on August 23, 2018, 04:21:08 PM
https://www.chron.com/renotahoe/article/bear-lake-tahoe-break-in-car-snack-food-13141742.php
Title: Re: NM bear encounter
Post by: badknees on August 23, 2018, 04:55:47 PM
https://www.chron.com/renotahoe/article/bear-lake-tahoe-break-in-car-snack-food-13141742.php

At least he could have closed the door after
Title: Re: NM bear encounter
Post by: RichardM on August 24, 2018, 11:40:43 AM
https://denver.cbslocal.com/2018/08/23/video-bear-lobby-stanley-hotel/