Bear Canister Question

11:13 p.m. on July 30, 2009 (EDT)
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Simple question that I'm sure you guys will have the answer to. When packing a bear canister, do items such as sealed Mountain House food etc... need to be placed inside? Or is it only less sealed items like GORP, fruit, toothpaste? I guess I'm most concerned with available space in the canister.

12:35 a.m. on July 31, 2009 (EDT)
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If you are truly in bear country, then ALL food items go in the canister, as well as anything else that has a scent, such as toothpaste, lip balm, bug spray, etc.

2:06 a.m. on July 31, 2009 (EDT)
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If you take all the packaging off the sealed foods you can save a LOT of space and some weight as well. Repackage it in plastic bag. Put a label and cooking instructions on or in it to say what it is and what day it is to be eaten.

It won't go bad in the short time you will be on your trip.

You can get a lot more food into the can if you figure on spending more time cooking. You can put rice and crushed macaroni in layers. Use a full water bottle to tamp down and compress them. Put a layer of pita bread or tortilla and tamp. And so on. Peanut butter fits in a squeezable serving bag as well. Make sure it is double bagged if you tamp it.

ttp://www.sierrawildbear.gov/foodstorage/packingabearcanister.htm

www.pcta.org/planning/before_trip/health/canistercare.doc

http://www.ehow.com/how_5038328_pack-bear-canister.html

I haven't been able to do it, but I've heard that you can get at least 7 days in a Garcia. We got enough for two on an 8 day trip in a Berikade. We carried the first day/night rations in the pack open - Fresh veggy, steak, ice cream with dry ice and collapsable container of wine. Wooo hooo.

1:33 p.m. on August 1, 2009 (EDT)
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Me personally I put every thing that has a sent in the canister pre-sealed dehydrated meals, tooth past, soap, bug spray, etc. in the canister and if I have room left over my cooking-set & eating utensils & stove. Bears have a extremely acute scene of smell.

2:58 a.m. on August 2, 2009 (EDT)
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The "bear" canister isn't JUST for bears. Anything attractive smelling can attract anything from yellowjackets to raccoons. Skunks, chipmunks, deer, mice, to the more obvious critters can be attracted to food stuffs. I have had more damage done to gear by chipmunks (and deer!) than anything else. In the backcountry? PUT IT AWAY!

7:58 p.m. on August 2, 2009 (EDT)
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Bears in Yosemite have been known to tear the door off a car to get at a cooler left in it. Same goes for windows-they can just lean on it until it breaks. Best thing, as already said, is to put whatever has a scent into the canister and then stash it away from your tent.

Bears are big, strong, smarter than you think and very persistent when they want something. Keep that in mind and you'll probably be fine.

8:26 p.m. on August 2, 2009 (EDT)
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Yes bears can be very smart and mischievous. In the ADK there a few bears that can open some bear canisters.


This was posted on REI.com on the BearVault page

There is a bear in the Marcy Dam area of the Adirondacks in upstate New York that has learned to open BearVault food containers. BearVaults are approved for use everywhere except the area encompassing the Lake Colden/Marcy Dam corridor and the Johns Brook valley in the Adirondacks.

I have also heard a couple other stories of this nature from a couple of the forest rangers out of the Potsdam NY office so it is not an isolated incident

1:03 p.m. on August 3, 2009 (EDT)
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Yes bears can be very smart and mischievous. In the ADK there a few bears that can open some bear canisters.

This was posted on REI.com on the BearVault page

There is a bear in the Marcy Dam area of the Adirondacks in upstate New York that has learned to open BearVault food containers. BearVaults are approved for use everywhere except the area encompassing the Lake Colden/Marcy Dam corridor and the Johns Brook valley in the Adirondacks.

I have also heard a couple other stories of this nature from a couple of the forest rangers out of the Potsdam NY office so it is not an isolated incident

That's right.

The New York Times had an article on it about a week ago, and we mentioned it on the Trailspace blog: http://www.trailspace.com/blog/2009/07/27/adirondack-bear-defeats-bearvault-500.html

1:57 p.m. on August 3, 2009 (EDT)
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ADKer said:

Simple question that I'm sure you guys will have the answer to. When packing a bear canister, do items such as sealed Mountain House food etc... need to be placed inside? Or is it only less sealed items like GORP, fruit, toothpaste? I guess I'm most concerned with available space in the canister.

Hi ADKer,

I would just like to add that (as already mentioned) bears are very smart, they are also curious as well.

If you leave out any food item, even sealed (unopened) freeze dried meals, bears will investigate these items sometimes just out of curiosity. If they should tear the package open and discover food, well, they have just learned to look for those type packages. If you have handled other types of food when you handled the sealed packages they will have food odor on them. So not only do you want to save your food from being stolen or ruined, but also you do not want to provide the bears with an opportunity to learn things that are harmful to them in the long run. Bears that become habituated to raiding campsites or parking areas have to be relocated and sometimes euthanized.

Ideally you want any investigation of your campsite by bears to be fruitless, and hopefully the younger bears wander away frustrated and return to their natural foraging routine in the woods.

I often backpack in areas in the Southern Appalachians with fairly heavy Black Bear concentrations. How smart or habituated the bears are just depends on where I'm at. Areas close to, or in State or National Parks seem to be the worst as far as camp raids or panhandling by bears. More remote areas seem to have bears that prefer to keep their distance, yet seem a little more agitated by sudden encounters.

I have never had a problem encounter with a black bear, other than one who seemed to think I was in HIS trout stream, I guess that's debatable, but I just backed out and let him have the stream.

I hope you enjoy your neck of the woods as much as I do!

2:29 p.m. on August 3, 2009 (EDT)
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..... How smart or habituated the bears are just depends on where I'm at. Areas close to, or in State or National Parks seem to be the worst as far as camp raids or panhandling by bears. More remote areas seem to have bears that prefer to keep their distance, yet seem a little more agitated by sudden encounters.....

Good point trouthunter. As far as the Adirondacks here in NY goes, this area is the most bear populated area of NY. It has been noted by the Park Rangers and I have noticed it as well. That the areas if the ADK that have a higher level of travel also have a higher level of bear incidents. IE the High Peaks area of the ADK has the highest level of bear related incidents, and the 5 Ponds wilderness area is the least traveled area and has the least bear related incidents.

5:49 p.m. on October 10, 2009 (EDT)
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This is why I do a good bear line, unless the park requires a canister. However, if you call the forest ranger or facility in charge of the area I seriously doubt that they would care if you hung your bear canister. But if they don't mind the bear hang, and you do it right, then the extra food for the horse is not such a problem. Still, the main reason for the requirements of bear canisters are because people do not do an adequate job setting up a bear hang. I actually read somewhere that a ranger came into a campsite and found this couple laying their food on the top of their tent! They figured that was a safe place....but how stupid was that!

4:08 p.m. on October 17, 2009 (EDT)
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The human accustomed bears in the Sierra are clued in on bear cannisters. If they see one they take a glance and continue on to the next probable sight.

In one beautiful (and popular spot), one set of campers had put their food on a large rock a ways out in a lake. The bear didn't have any problem with that one -- they swim extremely well and can climb like a goat. After the appetizer, he came up and past our camp spot, took one look at our bear canisters and continued to a higher grove of trees that apparently held a bunch of campers. They all scattered as it entered the trees. Didn't see the bear leave as it got dark, but there was a lot of yelling and banging of pots noise coming from that vicinity until dark.

It is a requirement in the Sierra National Parks to keep your food well protected...for a reason.

It has been a few years since then. I suspect that bear was put down that same summer. Too bad.

October 21, 2014
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