There's bears in the woods!

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There's bears in the woods!

Postby jimshu » Mon Jul 12, 2010 4:38 pm

So I have a friend going off to take a hiking trip in the woods in Ohio.
Now he asked me to find out about bears as some reports suggest growing population of bears in the area.Coming from a country where we don't have to worry about wildlife that can harm us, what would you suggest are the things he should be aware about while hiking in the woods?
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Re: There's bears in the woods!

Postby sinecure » Mon Jul 12, 2010 4:47 pm

Put his food and garbage away properly. Talk to park rangers. Make lots of noise.

And have a great trip!
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Re: There's bears in the woods!

Postby jimshu » Mon Jul 12, 2010 4:50 pm

But if you make lots of noise, won't they think it's their dinner walking along?
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Re: There's bears in the woods!

Postby sinecure » Mon Jul 12, 2010 5:01 pm

Nope they will get out of the way. Now if he wears one of those dinner bells "bear bells" I have heard stories where they have seen bears track the bell for dinner.
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Re: There's bears in the woods!

Postby jimshu » Mon Jul 12, 2010 5:06 pm

Well, naturally.I mean we respond to the dinner bell too.
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Re: There's bears in the woods!

Postby ExplorerWannaBe » Mon Jul 12, 2010 5:08 pm

Generally speaking, bears won't want to bother hunting down something that makes a lot of noise like humans. In addition to putting his food and garbage away, your friend should learn what a bear bag is since it sounds like he's backpacking through the woods. In essence, you toss a line over a high branch (I mean HIGH); bag up all your smellables (food, deodorant, spices, coffee, toothpaste, soap, even dirty laundry) and haul the bag up. You want it at least 10 feet off the ground, 20 feet would be better; tie the line off so the bag is suspended. You want the bear bag and cooking ring/equipment at least 50 feet away from your campsite, preferably downwind so your tent doesn't smell like food.

He likely doesn't have anything to worry about but if he DOES encounter a bear think of the following:

1. Stop and look around. If it's a cub, look to make sure you're not between it and the mother. If it might be a mother, look for the cub.
2. Bears are faster than you are.
3. Some bears can climb trees.
4. Worst case, drop to the ground and curl up in a tight ball, protecting your tender vital areas.
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Re: There's bears in the woods!

Postby jimshu » Mon Jul 12, 2010 6:08 pm

Good tips thanks.
To a Kiwi, making noise as we hike is quite the contrary to how we hike here, because we don't have to worry about bears etc.So we keep the noise down as we want to hear the birdlife as we hike.
So we Kiwis have to learn a new way.
I mean, that while up in northern Western Australia last month, we really had to learn to be on the watch for all sorts of things.The grass was over knee height in areas and for us we'd just would have wandered blithly off through that.But no, we were told in no uncertain terms, you just can't do that, because of snakes.And they have some of the most deadly types in Aus.And we saw them.Over 2metres long.
Also, around water.We wouldn't worry about wading in or jumping in water here, but there, boy you just don't with crocs all over the place!
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Re: There's bears in the woods!

Postby graybeard » Mon Jul 12, 2010 10:45 pm

Bears?? Ohio???

He would have to really, REALLY work at finding bears in Ohio. And, they would be the black bear, which is not much of a people chaser.

Perhaps your friend got his US states mixed up. If not, it sounds like a lot of needless worry.

The info. provided is good if you are really in bear country.

The most vicious critter I've ever encountered are those damn sand flies in NZ. Give me a bear anytime. At least a bear would be quick about it. The sand flies just nibble you to death over days. :shock:
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Re: There's bears in the woods!

Postby jimshu » Mon Jul 12, 2010 11:02 pm

Yep, you got bears in them thar woods!
http://www.ohio.com/news/43881672.html
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Re: There's bears in the woods!

Postby graybeard » Mon Jul 12, 2010 11:31 pm

I didn't say there were not any bears in Ohio, just that they are few and far between and that you would need to be lucky to spot one, though doing stupid things to deliberately try to attract them would be exceeding foolish. They are just not that big of a deal. A grizzly is more problematic, but none to be found in Ohio.

About the most dangerous creature in the woods in Ohio are the human hunters during deer season. There are stories of farmers painting "COW" on their livestock in hopes that some of the more well "lubricated" sportsmen might still be able to read.
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Re: There's bears in the woods!

Postby thecakeisalie » Fri Jul 16, 2010 7:44 pm

My thoughts exactly on the bears in Ohio, few and far between, doubtful you would find one even if you're looking. We have Bears in Chicago too, but they can't seem to do anything productive, offensively or defensively, and it seems their hibernation starts in September. :wink:

Anyway, I thought this sign was appropriate for this topic:Image
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Re: There's bears in the woods!

Postby jimshu » Sat Jul 17, 2010 2:50 am

Got asked by a website in Ohio to post something on their blogsite.All because I googled around.
So thought you might enjoy it also.
Here it is-
The unwary traveller.




Where on earth did that big lizard go?! It was just too big to disappear like that! I was sure it crossed the road about here, in front of our 4WD.We'd slammed to a stop after seeing a huge monitor type reptile stalk across the Gibb River Road,Western Australia, and I'd grabbed a camera and ran back to try for a picture, but it had disappeared.Once it got into the knee high grass it must have shot off so quickly.Must have been nearly 2 metres long.

Then I see diamonds at my feet in the grass.Beautiful yellow and black diamonds seeming to sparkle in the early morning sunlight, lying scattered in the long grass along a deep dark scaly greenish body, and as my eyes follow the diamond trail my mind is just starting to recognise the outline of that huge Bungarra so perfectly camouflaged in the grass just centimetres from my boots.I flick my camera to video.Then I kick it's tail........



Whooosh that Bungarra takes off so fast before I realised I hadn't even turned the camera on!

Doug, our driver had warned me they can take to you and leave a nasty bite.But I hadn't given that a thought.It was just such an unusual event for any Kiwi out in the Australian Bush , and seeing such an incredibly beautiful reptile overode any sense of caution I should have used.

And I often had to stop and think about that lack of caution. Because here in New Zealand we grow up in a country that has no dangerous animals, and very few toxic plants either.Our original natural biosystem had no land mammals apart from native bats and seals.Oh sure there is our Katipo spider that'll give you a nasty poisonous nip, but very rarely encountered.But no bears in our woods, no crocs in our rivers and lakes, no snakes in our fields.We have such a safe environment for the hiker or even that family picnic at some riverside.

So in my travels, I have had to consciously be very aware that I am in another country.And I cannot just go haring off into their veld or forests without learning about the dangers that may be awaiting, no matter how low the actual risk.Because that unexpected encounter can happen.

I've just been discussing with my wife this concept of being ignorant of another countries wildlife.And she reminded me of a friend's story about their business sponsored family trip to Zambia many years ago.Hot and sweaty, the river's edge seemed like a great spot to cool off for her and her toddler child.While she was reading her book on the bank, she was shocked to look up to see a native walk out of the high grass and down to the river and abduct her child! She was about to scream for help when the child was brought to her in his arms, and placed before her.

"Crocodiles Madam.No play by river Madam".




And I'm reminded of one of the scariest moments I have ever had.

In the desert in Damaraland, Namibia,on a volunteer project with Elephant-Human Relations Aid, EHRA. Building a rock wall around a farm well.We'd camped in a dry riverbed near our work site,cooked over a campfire,thrown our sleeping bags on the ground ,slept in the open under our billion star hotel, and woken before dawn to make an early start.And around midday I go wandering off seeking privacy down around a bend in the dry river bed to answer call of nature.That mound of leaves blown into a pile under the bank looked just the spot.So just about to go in Nature's bathroom when the pile of leaves rustled so unexpectedly! As if something was moving through the leaf pile rapidly! Right beneath my exposed rear!

This Kiwi jumped up, and made the fastest dash out of there!Who knows what it was.Snake or lizard!Gee that was one heck of a shock! Heart thumping stuff!

And this moment I wrote about here- http://holesinmysoles.blogspot.com/2010 ... tmare.html


These encounters may be rare,but they can happen so now I like to do a little research before a new journey , just so I'm aware of how I need to react when something surprises me again.And so when my friend mentions he'd like to walk part of the Appalachian Trail or in that general area,while in the USA visiting relations, I thought I'd Google around for info for him.He's not all that computer savvy.But he's another dumb Kiwi with no knowledge of wildlife in the area,no sense of caution and I just can't let him get chased by a bear in those woods, can I?

Observing wildlife, however dangerous it may be, is one of the true delights in hiking backwoods areas.And I'm sure he'll be over joyed if he is lucky enough to come across a black bear, but whether he's got enough nouse to know how to handle the situation is another matter.According to this report, bear sightings are slim but becoming more frequent Bear sighting report a sign of a growing population hopefully.As that report says,they're hardly likely to be seen and just as unlikely to attack.And like most wild animals, unless cornered they'll want to avoid you.I read that hikers are encouraged to make noise as they hike when in bear areas,to give them a chance to avoid you.And that is where we Kiwis need to learn about where we are hiking because back home, we would normally hike in silence so as not to scare wildlife away.So we need to adapt to where we are.We Kiwis can be very rowdy at times!I'm sure he will be.

And then there are snakes, and bobcats and coyotes etc,all part of that wonder of Nature that we are lucky if we do see them.But usually they'll slink away silently soon as they hear or even smell you coming.

I'm sure the Hocking Hills trails will be a delight for him to walk, and even more delightfull would be the experience should he do have a chance encounter with them.Getting back to Nature is what draws a lot of people to hiking our wilderness areas, wherever they are.And dangerous animals are just a part of that natural wonder.Without them,the experience would be lacking.We shouldn't be put off walking these trails because of our fears, but we can learn to understand nature and embrace it.

Umm... but don't embrace bears !
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Re: There's bears in the woods!

Postby jimshu » Sat Jul 17, 2010 2:52 am

Wow that photo came up so big!
But click on it a few times and scroll sliders will come up.
That is a pic of a small one we saw later.
But you can see the diamonds speckled all over.
Other info and photo here-http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Varanus_gouldii_-_Chace_ranges.JPG
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Varan ... ranges.JPG

I think patterning will vary depending on the sub-specie and also it's moulting stage and age.
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