Bear Attack

7:46 p.m. on June 12, 2012 (EDT)
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Here is an article that popped up on MSN today.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/47775249/ns/local_news-anchorage_ak/t/troopers-release-call-bear-mauling-victim/#.T9dZb7UfpBk

I quoted the text.

A bear mauling victim is at home recovering after being attacked by a brown bear early Sunday morning.

Ben Radakovich says he was walking on Penguin Creek Trail, off Bird Creek Trail, when the attack happened.

Bird Creek Trail is about near Mile 101 of the Seward Highway.

He says he had been yelling and making noise while he hiked, but the sounds must have been drowned out by a nearby creek. When Radakovich turned a corner he saw a bear on the trail, but it wasn't until she charged him that he saw her cub.

He says she swatted and bit him on the neck, back and head.

After the attack Radakovich climbed 30 feet up a tree where he called 911. His cell phone was in his pocket.

It took Alaska State Troopers about two hours before they could get to him.

Troopers say Radakovich was visibly thankful to be alive.

"He was pretty cold, shivering," Trooper Tim Lewis said. "He had multiple injuries, serious injuries."

Radakovich says he was carrying bear spray, but didn't have time to get it out of his backpack before the attack.

Radakovich was taken to Providence Alaska Medical Center. He was released and is back at home.

HE WAS CARRYING BEAR SPRAY BUT DIDN'T HAVE TIME TO GET IT OUT OF HIS BACKPACK!?!?!?!?!?

As Bill Engvall would say.... "Here's your sign."

4:44 p.m. on June 13, 2012 (EDT)
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Sigh.

If he's hiking in Alaska, you'd think he would have some kind of expectation that there might be a bear somewhere nearby.

Keep the bear spray on your belt, people, or hang it on a pack strap close to your hand. You've got just a few seconds to get it out. If you do, you're safe. If you don't, you're not.

7:39 p.m. on June 13, 2012 (EDT)
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Well, I'm sure sorry the gentleman was injured, I hope he recovers quickly.

I hate to say it - but this seems to be another case of people buying something that they think will keep them safe and then not following through with practice & planning.

Like people who say: "If I get lost it'll be okay because I have a new compass in my backpack."

We all have to learn though, I've done similar things.

Mike G.

8:41 p.m. on June 13, 2012 (EDT)
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Yeah it doesn't make much sense to keep bear spray in your pack. Lots of items fall into this category, mainly safety items or navigation items, such as your compass, or all of the avalanche specific safety items etc. At least he had his cell phone on his person.

Glad to hear he's ok, hopefully he wont make that same mistake twice.

7:17 a.m. on June 14, 2012 (EDT)
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Too bad Dewy isn't with us to provide insight...

Even if he had his spray holstered, near at hand it is very debatable he could have deployed it quick enough, and that it would have deterred a sow defending her cub, without her getting enraged, and inflicting even more injury.  He is lucky.

Ed

11:04 a.m. on June 14, 2012 (EDT)
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I'm with you Ed.  Sometines a person gets mauled and there was nothing he could have done to stop it save staying home. 

11:15 a.m. on June 14, 2012 (EDT)
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I have wondered about having time to use bear spray. They move so fast, I wonder if some kind of pepper spray grenade could be developed. It would get the user but a little burning and coughing beats a lot of chewing in my book. I dont know what he could have done diff, must have been a loud river or he wasnt loud enough.

12:16 p.m. on June 14, 2012 (EDT)
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I had always been taught that extra diligence is needed whenever you're in a situation with a lot of background noise. Not only rushing streams but rain or wind rushing through the trees can hide your approach and cause you to walk right up on a bear without them knowing. They're really not big on being surprised. Having his bear spray in his backpack... I'm sorry but that was a special kind of stupid.

11:58 p.m. on June 14, 2012 (EDT)
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Maybe rule number 2 might be handy here (double tap). It isn't real nice but i'll make it back .  I get to many bears around my deck. you don't want to go hiking around my area with out a side arm. i get relocated touble bears.When the season hits game on . Also on the table . I don't like the killing. i only take what i can eat.

2:53 a.m. on June 15, 2012 (EDT)
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Maybe he should have thought to keep it in his purse, or should have had a purse with thinking like keeping Bear Spray in his pack pack.  Let's say it just hit it with your stupidity.

10:23 a.m. on June 15, 2012 (EDT)
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JerseyWreckDiver said:

I had always been taught that extra diligence is needed whenever you're in a situation with a lot of background noise. Not only rushing streams but rain or wind rushing through the trees can hide your approach and cause you to walk right up on a bear without them knowing.

Yeah. Despite popular opinion to the contrary, bears' hearing is not much better than ours.  White noise, like wind or water, seriously interferes.

Rule 1; Don't surprise them - make lots of noise, especially in dense bush or near running water.

Rule 2; Keep the spray where you can get it. From a holster on your belt you can probably get it out and fire inside 3-5 seconds.

2:53 p.m. on June 15, 2012 (EDT)
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Bear Bells.  They make ones with little tiny pouches with magnets in them to silence them when you don't need them. 

This appears to be a fairly decent video

http://www.spokesman.com/video/2012/mar/16/how-use-bear-spray/

I've also seen some videos that show people spraying from their holster.

Also saw a video with Jack Hannah describing a situation where he had to use bear spray.

Bear Spray....  not just for bears anymore

4:10 p.m. on June 15, 2012 (EDT)
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"FACE TO FACE WITH DEATH!!" 

Don't you just love the media hype.

I am sure the interview had a positive impact by reaching many with the basics using bear spray that was heplful, I just can't help finding fluff pieces like this annoying on some level. 

Maybe I am just cynical and the only one who thinks this, but Jack Hannah strikes me as a more of a pompous Hollywood "outdoor" dilettante than a legitimate outdoorsman. 

12:12 a.m. on June 16, 2012 (EDT)
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gonzan said:

"FACE TO FACE WITH DEATH!!"

 

Maybe I am just cynical and the only one who thinks this, but Jack Hannah strikes me as a more of a pompous Hollywood "outdoor" dilettante than a legitimate outdoorsman. 

 Yah, he's definitely "Made for TV".

Going back to the original encounter, just the fact that he saw the cub means they didn't hear him. They're like squirrels, baby raccoons & such, and take off like a shot hearing pretty much anything that doesn't sound like mom.

Personally, I would find the bells thing just way too annoying and likely not very effective ($0.02). Probably not possible in many areas, but where I hike it is always heavily wooded, so once in a while, going around a corner or topping a hill, I'll Not avoid a stick on the ground and step right on it to break it. The sharp crack, I think, gets an animals attention in the woods more than anything else. Mine too come to think of it. Hmm. Maybe carry a couple drum sticks and smack em together when needed...

12:24 p.m. on June 16, 2012 (EDT)
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Always be "bear aware". She could have killed him, so despite the fact that his injuries were serious, she was only interested in stopping the perceived threat. We don't know the exact circumstances, but the bear may have been too close to deploy bear spray even if it was in a holster. The key is to have it ready. Even more important, is to practice getting it out and using it. Pulling it out, safety off and then aiming and firing. Grenada idea, could be dangerous. I read of someone who used a bear banger in a similar situation and the banger exploded behind the bear, making the bear more enraged and it charged faster.

1:12 p.m. on June 16, 2012 (EDT)
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I was thinking more of a big cloud of spray not the traditional bang something you could throw almost at your own feet to make a big cloud of pepper spray the bear might not wanna walk through the big cloud

3:05 p.m. on June 16, 2012 (EDT)
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I've wondered about the pepper rounds that can be used in paintball guns.

http://rap4.com/paintball/os/less-lethal-live-rounds-p-3720.html

I'm wondering if a smaller gun could be made to shoot these things.  They would probably be more effective when shooting in up wind situations.

9:13 a.m. on June 17, 2012 (EDT)
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Bear spray DOES create a large cloud between you and the bear, so it has the same effect as the 'grenade' idea you mention, hotdogman. The idea is that the bear runs into it as it advances. Distances range from about 18-30 feet.

In some places, bears have learned that if they hear bear bells and find the people carrying them, the hikers will drop their packs and run away and the bears get to eat their lunch. Common nomenclature for bear bells is 'dinner bells'.

I remember native kids in Northern Ontario being taught to clap their hands and sing as they walked. That seemed to work pretty well.

5:48 p.m. on June 17, 2012 (EDT)
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peter1955 said:

Bear spray DOES create a large cloud between you and the bear, so it has the same effect as the 'grenade' idea you mention, hotdogman. The idea is that the bear runs into it as it advances. Distances range from about 18-30 feet.

Yes this is what bear spray does!

I bought two cans when I bought mine so I could test fire one. While bear spray is not going to be 100% effective (according to the experts - not me) I do think it is very user friendly due to the large spray pattern - that is if you don't get any on you I guess.

It's like a small fire extinguisher.

Mike G.

 

6:19 p.m. on June 17, 2012 (EDT)
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Ya know, I have friends that work for the USFS and I've come across many bears in my time - our feeling is that bear spray is more of a $$ maker 'make u feel safe' product than one that actually WORKS.  If a charging bear is coming at you, the distance these cans will spray makes them *highly* ineffective.  The bear will still get damn close to you, if not on top of you, before its effective. 

I've always carried a marine air horn within easy reach and *always* and i mean *ALWAYS* bring my hiking poles.   The horns make enough noise that annoys the bear, causing them to turn around.  Hiking poles can make some noise and also look intimidating if you wave them, and if push-comes-to-run (ha) they can make fairly effective projectiles.  While I've never launched one at a bear, a friend has and it did work   (and yes, he did get his pole back).

8:50 p.m. on June 17, 2012 (EDT)
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An Alaskan university study was recently posted here, and it showed that out of several hundred bear encounters all over North America, NO ONE who used bear spray has ever been killed by the bear, even if they just managed to fire it after they'd been knocked down.

Remember, a bear's primary sensory organ is its sense of smell. If you've ever caught even the slightest whiff of bear spray, you will appreciate how powerful it is; I assume you've never had that experience. If you're even 10 metres way, cross wind of the target, you'll probably start coughing and wheezing. And its impact on a bear is multiplied many, many times over what you might feel from the same dose.

A charging bear hit by spray at close range may knock you over just because of its momentum, but it will be trying to get away as quickly as it can, and all thoughts of attacking you will be gone. And remember, 18-30 feet is a fair distance. Interestingly, the same study showed that spraying a bear didn't make it angry and more likely to attack but simply aborted the attack.

I started carrying it all the time when I realized that while only a few Parks Canada employees had a firearm (10%), they ALL carried it bear spray. In Canada's National Parks, it is now mandatory to carry bear spray on the many trails where bear encounters are expected. In fact, the town of Canmore just outside Banff National Park, subsidizes bear spray for its residents and offers training programs in how to use it properly.

Most of the encounters you'll have with black bears are neither predatory nor particularly aggressive, and people usually only have to deal with a bluff charge and a bit of huffing. Shouting or throwing things will usually scare the bear away under those circumstances because it's not really trying to attack you anyway. And of course, if it feels like its outnumbered by a group of people, it will back down anyway.

11:36 p.m. on June 17, 2012 (EDT)
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A while back I looked up the concentration of capsaicin in bear spray versus the human equivalent. 

Human pepper spray has significantly higher concentrations of capsaicin than bear spray.  I had wondered why the concentrations weren't similar but it makes since when you take into account a bear's heightened since of smell.

 

9:24 a.m. on June 18, 2012 (EDT)
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ocalacomputerguy said:

Human pepper spray has significantly higher concentrations of capsaicin than bear spray.

 Apparently, there are also different methods used for calculating the percentage of capsaicin. Without boring you all with the chemistry, there are two more powerful chemicals found in bear spray, capsaicin and dihydrocapsaicin. Those two are about twice as powerful as the other minor compounds that are also present. Some companies include only the major compounds, while others list the secondary compounds as well.

But, yeah. If a bear can smell decaying carrion a kilometre away, its sense of smell is WAY more sensitive than ours.

4:10 p.m. on August 11, 2012 (EDT)
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As with all of you on this forum, i thought the same way regarding bears and how to act around them, as i had several friends who had studied them over the years as part of research. However, i have just completed a book by Tom Hron, an Alaskan bush pilot who has observed bears for over 20 years in the Alaska wild. Changed my way of thinking-its called "Fighting for your life-Man eating Bears". Making noise and bear bells will only get the bear to come look for you as it is wondering what that noise is. Highly recommended.

11:22 a.m. on August 12, 2012 (EDT)
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I love the wife getting in on the action and the bare naked butt spanking was golden.  They should have dropped the guy off the counter onto his head too.

12:43 p.m. on August 12, 2012 (EDT)
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I realize that spray makes a big cloud. I was thinking you could throw a grenade type detterent further than bear spray would reach.

1:26 p.m. on August 12, 2012 (EDT)
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A good discussion.  I liked Travelnate's post.

Please give the guy in the story some slack.  People in Alaska become desensitized to threats from bears and tend to be lackadazical about them.

I have used air horns on many types of critters especially coyotes.

Bear spray has a few limitations like a windy day, or the wind in your face.

Bells are too quiet.  I have had problems several times working around bears doing water quality sampling in Alaska.  Streams with high gradients make a lot of noise and bears often can't even hear yelling.

 

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