Are American black bears getting meaner?

I have been noticing a lot of bear-attacking-human stories in the news lately. The best one can be read at Brandon Sun. It seems a man went to the outhouse at a campground and a black bear dragged him from his sitting perch by his arm and shoulder then bit him on the back of his head and neck. The bear also slashed at his arms, neck and head. The attack lasted about one minute before his buddy grabbed a gun and shot the animal. Obviously that bear got tired of campers stinking up his home turf and decided to take some action.

Here’s one from the Denver Post about a grandmother who tried to scare a bear off her property by banging pots and pans together to drive the bear off. According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokesman Randy Hampton, wildlife officials teach people to make a lot of noise including banging pots together to scare bears away.

I honestly don’t know who came up with the idea of banging pots and pans together to scare off bears. From experience I can tell you that just doesn’t work. I ran a resort in northern Wisconsin in the late 1980s, and bears were always coming in to raid the garbage cans that were securely (or at least I thought so) enclosed in a solidly built wooden enclosure. Fishermen used to toss their gut bags after cleaning fish into the waste cans and bears would try to get at it.

One morning I came out to find a huge black bear sitting on top the enclosure ripping the boards off the top like they were toothpicks. I grabbed two clangy pots from the kitchen and banged them loudly, yelling at the same time. The bear turned and glanced at me for a few seconds, then resumed destroying my trash container compound and devouring whatever edible garbage it could find.

When you’re in bear country you never know where you might encounter one. Recently a fisherman was on the end of a Duluth, Minn., pier when a voice rang out over the bridge loudspeaker. "To the person fishing at the end of the south pier of the Duluth ship canal, be advised there is a black bear coming your way on the pier." The bear was estimated to weigh 200 pounds. Luckily for the angler, it turned and returned to land before it got to him.

So what should you do if a bear approaches you? Shoot it. With pepper spray. The bottom line is if you are in bear country, go nowhere without pepper spray. Check out this article where world-renowned animal expert and zookeeper Jack Hanna changed a potential bear attack into just a close encounter.

Pepper spray works a lot better on bears than bullets. There have been studies to prove this, but it still is not a sure thing. Nothing is a sure thing to keep bears off you when in bear country. But it is a great insurance policy, and I go nowhere in bear country without a big can of bear spray in my backpack and a Kimber Pepper Blaster in my pocket.

Categories: Tim Lesmeister

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