Worried about the bears? Get a slingshot!

2:51 p.m. on November 13, 2012 (EST)
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This woman is a friend of mine. She's done a few group trips as one of my organizers, but her full-time job is as the manager of the Shunda Creek hostel at Nordegg.

A while ago a bear wandered up onto the hostel deck and scared a bunch of people lounging around in the hot tub. I guess this grizzly was getting a bit too close for comfort, too.


I feel bad - I should have warned the bear not to mess with her!

3:03 p.m. on November 13, 2012 (EST)
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Haha! The bear didn't seem too concerned with the lil' ol' pellets :) 

6:04 p.m. on November 13, 2012 (EST)
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Quite true :-)

The griz didn't exactly run in terror!

And the lady WAS standing safely out of reach on the hostel balcony!

12:55 p.m. on November 14, 2012 (EST)
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A slingshot is advanced rock throwing.  I used to play baseball and could throw rocks a long way as a young man.  This type of stuff is appropriate with bears that are habituated to people.

Using a slingshot as protection against bear is like bringing a rock to a gun fight.

1:47 p.m. on November 14, 2012 (EST)
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I've always cautioned not to injure the bear when throwing junk at it.  Attempt to scare it without hitting it first.  We found that tossing a pot near it and then trying to hit the pot worked just fine.  Would rather dent a pot than a bear, anyway.

For one thing stones hurt the animal as much as it will hurt you, they don't have access to medical treatment a well placed, hard thrown large stone will cause.

My first response to being beaned by a stone is retreat but with vengeance a near equal emotion.  Be careful - animals sometimes don't react the way you might wish.  I wouldn't mess with a junk yard dog anytime.

Just being there doesn't mean or warrant a stoning.

5:02 p.m. on November 14, 2012 (EST)
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i'm not a fan of hurting bear unless it's necessary.  lobbing a metal pot in the bear's general direction, or a tambourine for that matter, making a loud noise, would have been more effective and more humane. 

11:21 p.m. on November 14, 2012 (EST)
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I don't think there is really any difference between a loud noise and a sting from a small rock. Frankly, I'm surprised the bear noticed it through its coat,  but the deterrent effect seems to have been sufficient to urge it to wander off. It wasn't exactly flinching at the pain - more like 'Huh? What was that?", and it looks like it didn't associate the sting with the person.

Rather like bear spray, there was no permanent harm done to the bear, and it didn't prompt a vengeful response. But unlike bear spray the woman didn't have to expose herself to any risk to deploy it.

Being that close to the hostel, which is located close to a number of houses and other buildings, tells us this was an habituated bear, and apparently it had been hanging around before.

Be aware that this is in Nordegg, though - the reflex of 95% of the population there would have been to shoot it as a trophy to hang on the wall. When she said the slingshot was hanging up in the store between the beef jerky and the ammo she wasn't kidding. Nordegg is one of those places with a sign at the road going in warning that hunting inside the town limits isn't allowed.

"Using a slingshot as protection against bear is like bringing a rock to a gun fight." assumes the bear is attacking. This one obviously wasn't.

9:36 a.m. on November 15, 2012 (EST)
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A large enough rock, thrown hard enough, could physically harm a brown bear. However, their fur coat is extremely thick, dense, and coarse- a pebble or even golf ball sized rock would have to be thrown much harder than the average person is capable to inflict any real harm. A sling shot like the one she used cannot effectively throw anything over the size of a marble.

A point for comparison would be video, of which there are countless to be found, of bears play fighting. The strikes often swapped in those exchanges would render a person unconscious or severely injured, yet the bears walk it off like two kids playing with foam toys.   

10:16 a.m. on November 15, 2012 (EST)
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I dont think that woman could hurt a bear with any size rock. Their coat is so thick, then they have extremely tough skin, not to mention several inches of subcutaneus fat. I have personally seen a huge black bear shot with a twelve gauge slug from fifteen feet and it didnt draw blood, it never made it into his flesh. It was a problem bear, had been eating pigs at a farm and attacked the farmer. The hunters were professional brought in to kill this bear. It would have tto be a huge rock thrown by the hulk or dropped from a very high place to injure a bear. No way that lady could harm a bear with a rock,period.

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