Hiker Killed by Grizzly

Grizzly Bear

Grizzly Bear (Photo credit: Scott_Calleja)

American Black Bear

American Black Bear (Photo credit: siwild)

YELLOWSTONE GRIZZLY KILLS HIKER.  Last year, an autopsy confirmed that a 59 year-old man was killed while hiking near the Mary Mountain Trail in Yellowstone National Park. This was the second fatality from a grizzly at Yellowstone last year.

Grizzly bears are aggressive. Black bears, which are found in the east, are smaller and shy away from humans. Being attacked by a black bear is unlikely, but there have been 63 fatal black bear attacks in the United States and Canada between 1900 and 2009.

In any case, grizzly and black bears will do anything to get food. Because of this, there are two things you need to do when you hike in the wilds.

1) Camp for the night several miles beyond where you cooked your last meal.

2) Hang your food at your campsite.

sign warning hikers not to lure bears by cooking at shelter

As the sign in the picture says, Food Odors Attract Bears. If you cook and tent in the same spot, you’re asking for trouble. Always. Bears zero in on the odors and will wreck a camp looking for food.

I realize that on the Appalachian Trail and on other trails, hikers will congregate at some of the shelters to cook and camp for the night. I do too. That brings us to the second point. While there is safety in numbers, you must hang your food, and hang it sufficiently high, out on a tree limb (not next to the tree, which a bear will climb). We picked limbs away from tents and shelters, so we could sleep in peace.

From all that I’ve read and seen (saw black bears on four separate occasions while thru-hiking the A.T.), bears simply want food. If you practice these two things–camp beyond where you cook, and hang your food–you will greatly reduce the chances of a bear encounter.

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2 thoughts on “Hiker Killed by Grizzly

  1. Ray,

    Thank you for this public safety advice regarding bear-avoidance on the trail. It’s a great service you provide hikers.

    Here’s another subject that you might wish to explore someday with your many hiker friends: carrying a 406 EPIRB / ELT / PLB or other emergency locator beacon in case of a major emergency experienced on the trail. The link below will bring you to an Amazon.com review, and ‘counter-review,’ regarding two types of hiker/adventurer electronic-locator beacons that utilize satellites for geo-positioning to guide rescue teams.

    I’ve never studied or used these types of devices… while on active duty in the Coast Guard, we used a sextant to determine our position at sea, when out of sight of land. That’s how we, as oceanographers, worked our way to Africa and other continents, and returned to our U.S. home port. Those were pre-satellite days. You might call them the “Magellan days.” Our satellites were the Sun, Moon, and Stars (when there wasn’t cloud cover). A stretch of bad weather meant more than closing our hatches… it meant that we were dead reckoning our way towards our destination. Something akin to hiking with a broken leg, although I’ve never done that, and sunshine can’t repair a leg, like it could the navigational plot on our nautical charts.

    http://www.amazon.com/review/RJW5WU7SUBPP3/ref=cm_cr_pr_viewpnt#RJW5WU7SUBPP3

    Cheers, Dave

    Like

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