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Jim Casada
01-25-2011, 07:21 PM
A number of you have read the pieces I wrote on otters and horses which were published on the Tuck Reader. After a conversation today with Morgan Simmons of the News-Sentinel in Knoxville, along with other conversations with my brother, a former Park employee, and a guide-outfitter, I think all of us would be wise to start giving more thought to bears and bear encounters.

As many of you know, all of the campsites but one on Hazel Creek have been closed for many months, and all the Park is doing is placing tents in them, with a camera monitor, to see what happens. Simply put, bears are consistently attacking/invading/turning over the unoccupied tents. That does nothing to address the problem of bears, just confirms there is an ongoing problem.

Similarly, my brother, Don, covers perhaps a thousand miles of Park trails each year. He says that he has noticed a distinct change in bear behavior in the last two or three years, including two encounters this past summer in which bears showed no fear of him whatsoever.

The Park apparently no longer uses behavior traumatizing approaches the same way they once did (at one point, many years ago, they spanked them as they came out of a tranquilized state and it was quite effective). Instead, the prevailing view of biologists seems to be that just trapping bears is traumatic enough. Yet that makes little sense given the fact that the bear which killed a woman a few years back had previously been trapped.

It is the view of most folks with whom I have talked (and whose views I greatly respect) that something bad is going to happen, more likely sooner than later.

Similarly, if all the Hazel Creek sites, and a lot of others, stay closed come warm weather it is going to be a real problem for folks who make a good portion of their living (and pay the Park all sorts of hefty fees for that privilege) by using backcountry campsites as a part of their service. I know, for example, that Steve Claxton, Ian Rutter, and others book week after week on Hazel Creek. You may or may not care about the outfitters, but what about ordinary fisherman like those who frequent this forum? They too will be in effect denied lots of access.

There's a lot more, but the bear issue is in our laps, like it or not. You can read what I wrote in detail on the Tuck Reader if you wish, but I will add one thing right now. I recommend far greater care than most of us (certainly me, and I've had bear encounters aplenty in the Park) have heretofore exercised. Think seriously about carrying pepper spray, for one thing. You may have a concealed carry permit, but a blast of pepper spray will stop a bear in its tracks--a handgun won't unless you are good enough to hit the bruin in the brain. I'm not.

I await the thoughts of others, but my conversation with these folks, some suggestions that Park biologists really are at a loss as to what to do, a significant upsurge in bear numbers, and the dramatically changed behavior patterns are enough to cause me considerable concern.

Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

Jim Casada
01-25-2011, 07:36 PM
One corrective to the above post. Turns out that the Hazel Creek sites reopened sometime in the last couple of weeks, but they were closed from September until earlier this month. I should have checked, and I'd like to think (but I know better) that my comments in the Tuck Reader might have had an impact. Still, it is true that Park officials will listen when people address issues, and that's a message to all of us not only as citizens but as folks who fish and love the Park.
Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

calebB
01-25-2011, 08:27 PM
Ya, spankem. I like that:biggrin:

501
01-25-2011, 08:36 PM
Jim, as you are doubtlessly aware there have been a lot of comments lately on this message board related to park personel and park management. Maybe, finally, someone is listening......................

FishNHunt
01-25-2011, 09:25 PM
Jim.

The simple fact of the matter is that bears sell. They make the park money and they won’t cut their nose off to spite their face. The park wants everyone that goes around Cades Cove loop to see a bear in its “natural” setting from the safety of a vehicle window. If the park service starts harassing these bears for safety reasons the bears will simply find food elsewhere, and leave along, with the tourist dollars.
Many years ago when men like Will Walker, the Cable, and Plott families killed bears by the hundreds, they were doing so for food, protection of person and or property, and it was expected. You may ask ‘expected’? Yes, bears, wolves, “painter” and any other creature that could harm them or their livestock were considered vermin and vermin were killed on sight. This mentality carried threw the generations and the bear populations dwindled to a point that only a few very isolated bears were left. Now, with the formation of the park, bear reserves, stringent limits, better educated hunters, and seasons set to protect female bears the population has expanded to a point that they are that the “carry capacity” of the land.
Bears that live around the “fringes” of the park where hunting is legal don’t seem to create much of a problem. I’ve never saw any statistics but, I do know that the camp sites on Ace gap trail, Cooper rd. trail or the Bearded Cane seem to never be closed. Hunting around Happy Valley, Townsend, hwy 129, and the upper reaches of the park seem to prevent these bears from associating food with humans. Even thou the housing populations are great and garbage can raids are rampant in some areas. I believe that if the people in the Laurel Valley community really new just how many bears are walking around in the woods just feet from their houses, they would be amazed and some horrified. These bears get “buck shot” in the butt from the old timers for getting into gardens and turning over garbage cans. They also get harassed by hounds and hunters.
The bears that live in “protected” areas, meaning areas that see no harassing behavior from humans or hounds tend to be less inclined to “tuck tail” and run. Yes, a bear has a tail for those that didn’t know. Hazel and Eagle creek are protected by Fontana Lake. Yes, some are harassed in N.C. and swim the lake to safety in the park. However, there are a lot more that make a great living in these drainages undisturbed from any form of harassment.
The reasons for closing these camp sites are ridicules. It’s the bear panic by people that have no idea what the aggressive actions of a bear really are. Does the park service simply take the word of the “victim” and close the site or do they do an extensive survey of the area and draw a conclusion of their own?
I am a hunter. I’m a hounds men and a bear hunter. However, I’m fascinated by bears and believe they should be afforded ample space for protection, growth and expansion. The national park accommodates those needs.
Yes, hunters loose acres every year and I hate to think where my children will hunt, if they wish, when they are my age.
I would surmise that I’ve been closer to more bear that ¾ of all the people visiting the park in a year. When I say close I mean within 20 yards. I’ve hit them with sticks so that I could retrieve my baying dogs from the feet of the bear. I’ve poked them in the rear with my “snake stick” (3/4 inch x 4 ft long PVC pipe) to keep them in the tree while I could tie my dogs back. I’ve had them jump from the tree and land mere inches from me. I’ve crawled into brush piles and holes with them to retrieve my hounds. I’ve sat on stumps 20 yards away just to watch their feeding behavior in Cherokee National forest. I’ve watched them sleep in the sunny spots with their paws folded and chin laying on them. I’ve watched them twitch in there sleep and their eyes flutter only to wonder if they were dreaming. I’ve had cubs examine my back pack and gun that I’d lain down while digging ginseng. NEVER, not once have I EVER felt that my life was in danger from a bear. That’s because I know for the most part the signs that a bear gives. I know when to back off or push my luck. Anyways, I’ve said a lot to ask a simple question.

How do you make bears keep their distance from humans and at the same time keep them coming back to areas where it’s easy for people to see them from the window of their vehicle?

FishNHunt
01-25-2011, 09:46 PM
Something that I forgot to mention is, the behavior that I might find simply as a bear being a bear another person may find threatening and vise versa. I do NOT believe that the park should close ANYTHING unless park personnel with experience dealing with bears should make that call. A "menacing" bear WILL be back. If it simply does not return when the ranger is there then leave the site open. If you get several complaints then that is the time closure should be made. THEN, a ranger should be posted there to make contact with the bear and create a situation in which the bear is left with a bad experience.
I’ll volunteer for that job. Just give me my best female cur and a shot gun with bean bags and we’ll fix any bear problem REAL fast.

spotlight
01-25-2011, 10:20 PM
UMM Jim last I heard bear spray is illegal in the GSMNP below is a link I searched and I was told by a ranger that it is illegal to carry it. The bottom link explains that it's a Federal weapons violation if caught with it.

http://gosmokies.knoxnews.com/forum/topics/bear-spray-is-illegal-in-great

http://yoursmokies.blogspot.com/2009/04/is-bear-pepper-spray-legal-or-illegal.html

Jim Casada
01-25-2011, 10:22 PM
FishNHunt--You are a man after my own heart and pretty much of my views. About the only area I would disagree is that I am convinced bears have become appreciably less afraid of humans in the Park in recent years. Even there, though, you offer some sound reasons as to why. I completely concur on the closures, and what was done on Hazel Creek through the fall and into the winter was indeed ridiculous.
I don't have your experience with bears but I have hunted (Kodiak Island) where they are a scary problem (they actually will come to a rifle shot and deer hunters are told to get their animal out in a hurry) and fished in Alaska where you stay together and guides always have guns. I even spent a night up a tree in the Thorofare Wilderness Area years ago with a bear beneath me, but that was a grizzly.
I too hunt, a great deal, and realize that all the problems you point out--visual appeal, a draw to the Park, unwillingness of Park personnel to take needed steps, etc.--go to the heart of the issue. As for the cur and bean bags, what you are talking about is traumatizing the bear, and that's what is needed.

I'm curious--my bear and hog hunting friends over in Graham County tell me hogs were scarce to non-existent this fall, in sharp contrast to recent years. Any thoughts on this? I've also heard word, lots of it, that the Park poisoned some hogs and made mistakes which hurt other wildlife. Any verification or insight there?

Thanks for a most interesting and insightful post, and obviously you've dealt with bears with pretty much the same passion I've hunted wild turkeys (and I've done some bear hunting, but I'm not really enamored of today's tendency towards drive pick-ups, use track collars, and hunt from the road. I like the old style practiced by Mark Cathey, Sam Hunnicutt, the Walkers, Granville Calhoun, and those of their ilk.
Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

Jim Casada
01-25-2011, 10:26 PM
Spotlight--Thanks, and I did not know that. It has to be about as stupid a policy as I can think of right off hand. I'd much prefer spray, both from the standpoint of efficacy and convenience, to a gun (which is legal if you go through the right process). It would take a great deal of convincing from a bureaucrat to make me see the logic of no pepper spray, especially when it is allowed in other Parks (unless I'm totally mistaken). But then, there are more and more Park policies which mystify me, even as I do my level best to support the Park and have a consuming passion for it.

Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

spotlight
01-25-2011, 10:53 PM
Jim, I will have to say that a lot and I mean a LOT of bear problems within the park are due to lack of backcountry knowledge. I have seen people laying food around and collecting firewood park rules state that if your not consuming food it needs to be hung on the cables provided. Your not even supposed to have whiskey or Gatorade left unattended....you can get a ticket I have seen it happen. I even voiced my concern to Byron that I think people need some education before heading into the backcountry.

Many people have no clue what or how to pack why you don't want to wear cotton,what to eat, why you must treat water before drinking etc, all to many times I have seen stupid people doing stupid things then people wonder why bears are attracted and backcountry sites are closed. That's the reason all the fences have been removed from shelters. park officials have had reports of people hanging bacon from the fence to get pictures of bears. If you want an example of stupid people just watch people surround a bear in Cades Cove with cameras.

I will have to agree that something is going to happen more sooner than later but I also bet when it does it's going to be due to inexperience. They say that lady that was attacked on Goshen prong was experienced but yet the photos in her camera were never released why? if I had to guess because she was taking photos of the cubs when the mother attacked.

I can't stress enough to people heading into the backcountry to educate yourself read some books, take a backpacking 101 class go to the park website and know what to do if you encounter a bear. I have seen a few and they have always ran away I am thankful but I know to stand my ground if I have to and to never look a bear in the eye. I just hope others pay attention to park rules and safety so that our park can be enjoyed by everyone without MORE RULES!

doghaircaddis
01-25-2011, 11:01 PM
As many of you know, all of the campsites but one on Hazel Creek have been closed for many months, and all the Park is doing is placing tents in them, with a camera monitor, to see what happens.

I wasn't aware this was going on. Is the Park releasing their findings to the public?

whitefeather
01-26-2011, 02:29 AM
Wow! Unbelievable! I can carry a .44 automag in the park legally for protection but can't carry pepper spray for bear. I could shoot a bear if necessary but I don't believe the odds of me hitting it in a vital area are in my favor. And I hope it never comes to something like that because I am not fond of the idea in the first place. And I can just about guarantee that if you did shoot a bear and kill it, you would be in serious trouble with some other peripheral federal law. This scenario has already played out in one case I heard of, but I am not knowledgable of the final outcome.

Whitefeather
__________________________________________________
Blue skies, warm gentle winds, and trout filled waters to all!:smile:

Kytroutbum
01-26-2011, 02:52 AM
APOLOGIES UP FRONT, I DON'T MEAN TO UPSET ANYONE BUT I MUST RESPOND TO THIS THREAD. I BELIEVE IT COULD BE A MATTER OF LIFE OR DEATH!
BEAR SPRAY IS LEGAL TO CARRY IN GSMNP- I REPEAT- BEAR SPRAY IS LEGAL TO CARRY IN GSMNP. CARRYING IT CAN SAVE YOUR LIFE!

I have twice over the past few years posted COPIES of communication from the HEADQUARTERS OF GSMNP, not someone's blog, on this forum. I believe we went through this last winter or the winter before. Maybe some of you may remember the banter over defining "legal" verses "permissible". Below is a second copy of what I posted at that time. Reading between the lines there is an awlful lot of governmental CYA. I believe this CYA is due to my second request for clarification. The first one I posted, years ago, actually used the words "legal"! BTW, Xanterra, the concessionaire, in YNP sells it in their stores.

My wife and I have worked for two years as USFS Campground hosts in the Shoshone Forest. More than 1/2 of GYE bears are in the Shoshone. When we open our campground, along with the field radio and keys, we are issued two canisters of bear spray and told to carry it. We were 8 miles from Soda Butte Campground, near Cooke City, where the three individuals were attacked by grizzly. As we were one of the closest campgrounds, I was briefed by FS Rangers 48 hours after the attacks. They were the ones, who had "sanitized" the campground, so campers could retrieve their gear without seeing unpleasant things. The one fatality was the result of "MASSIVE SOFT TISSUE LOSS". None of the victims had access to bear spray.
The Wyoming Game Warden for our area is a strong advocate of bear spray. Last June, his dog encountered a sow grizzly with cubs. The sow charged him and he sprayed her at 10 yards. She stopped long enough allowing him time to get away from the area of the cubs.
After spending 115 nights in a campground with several grizzly sightings weekly 1-2 miles both sides of us, I am more concerned about an attack in the GSMNP than the Shoshone or Yellowstone. The park could be a ticking time bomb.
The black bear is vastly unrated as an Potentially Lethal Aggressor, especially when "humanized" like ours.We've all seen the finalists for the Darwin Awards in Cades Cove. Those individuals will cause "negative bear encounters" for someone else sooner or later.
Someone cited a few years back a listing of bear attack fatalities in North America. A comparison of "Brown" vs "Black" showed an almost 50-50 occurance of deadly attacks between them. I played with the listings, tallied only lower 48, and the ratio is 3 Black to 1 Brown fatality. Personally, I have twice had black bear encounters while fishing above Elkmont. The lady from Cosby was killed up there about 10 years ago. I believe part of the lawsuit against GSMNP states that she was "alive with the bears on top of her" when the Rangers got up there.
Our Gov't agencies are very short handed. We can not always depend upon a "Ranger".GSMNP does not have the staff many of us think it does. In many National Forests and Parks, what you think is a full time "Ranger" is most likely an unpaid Volunteer or a 60 day seasonal. (Our one Rec. Tech. in the Shoshone was four individuals 15 years ago.) Last summer two of our "College Kid" seasonals, who cleaned the toilets at the trailheads and overlooks, drove the new trucks around, "providing a presence" in campgrounds when the hosts were gone. Any Campground Host who is a Volunteer has NO ENFORCEMENT capability. If they have a problem in camp, they must wait for a Ranger to come, if and when they are available. If Elkmont Campground were in the Shoshone National Forest, it would be closed and heads would roll and people fired over food storage violations. NPS and FS have very similiar food storage rules. I keep my spray with me in my tent at night when camping in there. As I tell my campers, their behavior today might cause an bear attack next week. The grizzly sow involved in the attacks at Soda Butte Campground the last week of July, had been in the campground area since it opened on July 1st. I have been told that there was minimal forest service presence due to lack of funding(?). The three parties attacked had NOT committed ANY food storage or other behavior to provoke those attacks. But people had been taking pictures and feeding her and the three cubs. I can very easily see this same situation in GSMNP.

Bear spray is more effective in a charge situation than a firearm. Most manufacturers provide a DVD to show how to properly use it. UDAP and COUNTER ASSAULT are two major brands. Used properly it is a safe, non lethal form of protection. It will provide you time to get yourself out of the situation. It also works on Moose and Bison!!

Below is a copy of an email responding to my inquiry to GSMNP Headquarters about any changes in Bear Spray Policy

"Sorry for the slow response time -- we were waiting for clarification from
Washington about whether or not bear spray is legally considered a weapon,
but finally gave up and decided to apply the regulations as we have in
previous years. In this park we are not prohibiting carrying bear spray at
this time. However, please be aware that pepper spray requires specific
training to use effectively. When used improperly, pepper spray may act as
an attractant to bears, or may incapacitate the visitor, making fending off
an attacking bear difficult. Therefore we do not recommend the use of
pepper spray in Great Smoky Mountains National Park."

ifish4wildtrout
01-26-2011, 06:48 AM
From the GSMNP website, bear spray is legal in the park. Down near the bottom of this page.

http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/hiking.htm

Jim Casada
01-26-2011, 10:07 AM
doghaircaddis--If the results have been released, other than a sort of an aside comment in an article on Kim Delozier's retirement in the Knoxville paper several weeks back (there was a photo showing him setting up a tent so they could have a trail camera record what bears did), I haven't seen them. I do know that having multiple campsites closed for months made no sense whatsoever. Taking things one step further, an inquiry to a local ranger (one at Deep Creek) brought explanations so nonsensical as to be verging on stupidity. The ranger didn't know he was talking on the phone with a local and gave a convoluted explanation about our bears being "different" and the like.
My suspicions are: (1) There was not much of an outcry for a time and the Park found it easier to deal with the problem through closures than through use of personnel to address the situation directly and (2) Delozier's retirement may have left sort of a vacuum where things fell through the cracks.
Incidentally, in addition to all the Hazel Creek campsites, several others in the Park, including ones along the AT and on Big Creek, were closed for extended periods of time.
Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

Jim Casada
01-26-2011, 10:18 AM
Kytroutbum--Thanks for the correction to a previous post. I hadn't done the digging but was astounded at the post saying bear spray was illegal. Good for you for in effect forcing the Park's hand on this and making them give you a specific statement, and boy, are you ever right about CYA. Their statement is a masterpiece of bureaucratic BS.

You are also squarely on target when it comes to short staffing and seasonal rangers. Many of the latter have minimal training, cannot carry guns, and have circumscribed authority. I have personally seen this in three different situations over the years, with one of the three being pretty serious. This was a good many years ago on Hazel Creek when a group in the Proctor campsite created various problems--drunkeness, a woman being beaten, and as it turned out, marijuana cultivation.

My brother, my cousin (who is a national wildlife refuge manager and thus knows the ropes as far as action and protocol go), and I complained to the seasonal ranger when he happened to show up. The long and short of it was that he was scared to address the issue and wouldn't even talk to the offending party. We were quite insistent and in effect told him we had his back if trouble occurred, but he still was afraid. Finally, my cousin, exasperated, suggested he use his two-way radio and ask for backup. He did and when help arrived we pointed out where we thought they had buried liquor.

Turns out it wasn't liquor but several jars of marijuana seeds sprouted and ready for planting, and of course they didn't have a camping permit. Had we not been so insistent, the seasonal ranger would have ignored it and there would have been a few small patches of weed being cultivated somewhere on Hazel Creek.

Again, thanks both for the clarification and for the obvious background work (and knowledge) you have brought to this issue. For my part, I think an upcoming purchase is going to be pepper spray. Wonder if Byron, Paula, and Daniel stock it?

Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

Crockett
01-26-2011, 11:02 AM
I have seen the tent they setup back in 2008 cs 24 was closed (had been for over a month) and I went up to cs 30 for the night. When I passed cs 24 I saw a big empty tent setup there and walked over to check it out. Nothing inside at all looked like a decoy and I had the feeling the park service had set it up there but didn't know why. I am certain now if I had looked around a little harder I would have seen the camera. I am sure the NPS has a picture of me looking in their decoy tent somewhere. Also at that time they had this up in the bear hang a gourney and some other equipment:

http://i284.photobucket.com/albums/ll9/CrockettCreek/Elkmont%20Backpacking%202008/Picture056.jpg

TNBigBore
01-26-2011, 11:50 AM
The increase in number of bear/human encounters in the GSMNP and surrounding national forests is not hard to understand in my opinion. Bear populations in TN and NC are at their highest levels since records have been kept. More people are on the trails, streams and backcountry in general every year. It stands to reason that there would be more interaction between humans and bears.

As to the change in bear behavior, I think it is still just a small percentage of bears (usually sub adult age class) that are causing problems. However, 2% of several thousand is much more than 2% of several hundred. I really believe this is just a numbers game we are dealing with.

Jim Casada
01-26-2011, 12:20 PM
TNBigBore--I pretty much incline to your way of thinking, but whatever the precise explanation of behavioral change, three things seem abundantly clear to me: (1) There are more problem bears because there are more bears, (2) The likelihood of a really bad event has increased markedly, and (3) Park officials are going to have to take steps, well beyond what they are doing now, to address the whole matter.

Does anyone know if they are now trapping and transporting problem bears outside the Park to places they can be hunted? This was once a part of their problem bear protocol, but I've heard nothing at all about such activity in recent years. It would have almost certainly taken care of the one problem bear which constantly hung out at the Proctor campsite on Hazel Creek.

I think most of us would like to know a great deal more about what the Park is doing in this area, and a seeming veil of secrecy, whether intended or not (and as someone always inclined towards giving the benefit of the doubt, I happen to think much of it is the simple failure of Park leaders to realize how much interest there is in their policies and procedures), really doesn't help.

As my Grandpa Joe used to say, the only things which thrive in the dark are mushrooms and mildew, and both of them do better with appplications of horse----. A little light of day on these various problems might be beneficial not only in terms of publication relations but when it came to protecting the Park, its animals, and that species of animal, homo sapiens, which does not live there but still likes to enjoy it.
Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

whitefeather
01-26-2011, 02:46 PM
In my opinion, as long as man creates ecological buffer zones that stand out from the surrounding areas and give wildlife a safe haven, there will be a constant tendency for imbalance in nature that isn't or can't easily be addressed within the mission statement of the wildlife authority in charge. That coupled with the fact that those authority positions these days are highly political in nature and with political correctness at an all time high, common sense solutions have taken a back seat because they are not part of the resume requirements for those jobs.

In our state we have deer hunts in our state parks now that were non-existent 10 years ago, to cull the over crowding of deer and allow the fauna to recover. The deer in many parks were eating everything from the ground up to as high as they could reach, stripping the trees bare. A visibly noticeable loss of forest canopy began cutting into the park's visitor numbers or so it was thought. The first year of the hunts brought out the "anti" crazies in numbers to protest the hunts. Some even interfered with the hunters while they were hunting and while they were trying to retrieve game. The next year there was a wide presence of law enforcement people to discourage the "antis". No one was allowed to be "off road" without a firearm in their possession. The next year, the General Assembly passed a law making it a class D felony to interfere with a hunter in pursuit of wild game, in anyway, and also made it so for those tree huggers who tried to interfere with contract logging companies on public land. The "anti's" went away, along with the tree huggers.

There should be culling hunts for bear or at least trapping and displacement to other areas, with some sort of corporal incentive for bears to stay away from humans. And trapping for the otters. They have contract hunters for wild hogs, because of the aggressive nature of the hogs. It would seem that bears aren't becoming any less aggressive, and their numbers are increasing. Will it take a high human body count splattered across the headlines of the newspapers to finally get some results? Maybe, but I'm certainly not going to volunteer! LOL! It seems the scenario is already being orchestrated.

It's going to take constant vigilance and contact with elected officials to pressure them to accept a workable solution.

On a lighter note, maybe someone could invent a spray that when applied to the fur of an otter (or the pant leg of a lazy bureaucrat), made it smell like an Oscar Meyer wiener. Maybe the bears would serve a more noble purpose in balancing out that problem. Wait... No.... that wouldn't work too well for we fisherman. All the bears would be at streamside scouring the landscape for the wieners! LOL! :biggrin:

Whitefeather
__________________________________________________
Blue skies, warm gentle winds, and trout filled waters to all!:smile:

Crockett
01-26-2011, 02:57 PM
Whitefeather I wish there were some kind of statistics on hiking or fishing in the smokies to see what it actually is compared to past times. As there is none all we have to go on is ancedotal things like 'it sure seems like there are more people fishing nowadays' etc. which is hardly conclusive.

There is one thing that the park service does collect statistics on and that is backcountry camping. They have the stats for every year going back to the 1950s. In the 1950s there were about 70,000 camper nights in the backcountry per year. This number rose steadily up to the 1970s where it topped out at 140,000 camper nights per year! Then oddly it started dropping very fast and now is back down to 1950s level (last year the number was 77,000 camper nights in the GSMNP). So if you want to experience crowd levels like they were in the 1950s there is one place you can go and that is a backcountry campsite in the GSMNP. No arguing there you will see the same amount of campers as if you walked back into to the 1950s.

Hikers I would say are more now than the 1950s but that is just a gut estimate no stats so no one knows. Fisherman I guess would be far more than the 1950s at or near a road, but in the backcountry I would say about the same as 1950s but those are just guesses no one knows since they don't track that info.

kevinumberger
01-26-2011, 03:01 PM
Similarly, if all the Hazel Creek sites, and a lot of others, stay closed come warm weather it is going to be a real problem for folks who make a good portion of their living (and pay the Park all sorts of hefty fees for that privilege) by using backcountry campsites as a part of their service




i think that this is part of the problem.........these groups bring in tons of food, and while the guides may be wise enough to care about where their food crumbs are going---i'm guessing a majority of their clients dont......

Jim Casada
01-26-2011, 03:32 PM
Adam--While I don't have hard figures, I am old enough to have fished (and camped) in the Park from the late 1950s to the present. My distinct impression is that there are far more hikers, far more fishermen (but only in easy-to-reach sections of streams) and some more campers. You give the stats on campers but I really have to question the accuracy of the Park's figures. The reason is that I don't ever once remember getting a backcountry permit in the 1950s. It may have been required, but if so I didn't know about it. Of course a fair amount of my camping was done with the son of a ranger, and I can virtually guarantee that rangers knew a lot more about what was going on in the backcountry then than they do now. Why? Because they spent a lot more time in remote areas.
There's no question whatsoever that when it comes to the quality of fishing, one of two things has happened. Either I've lost my touch or there are fewer fish in heavily fished areas. Ten years ago I wouldn't have said that, and five years ago I wouldn't have said it either. Even two or three years ago I didn't notice much difference except that on some streams where browns were the dominant fish there could be really tough days.
But I fished more last summer than I have in decades (some, if only an hour or two, almost every day). Things are worse, appreciably so. I attribute that primarily to drought and otters though, no pressure from other fishermen.
I also noticed the other day that Byron, in his fishing report, mentioned in passing that Jack had commented on not seeing nearly as many big browns as he used to spot. I don't know if anyone else picked up on that but Jack has a reputation of being a sho' 'nuff "go to" guy on big fish and I found his observation (and it focuses I'm sure on the Tennessee side just as mine does on N. C.) quite revealing. I've heard a similar expression of concern from Jim Mills, an old-time fisherman from the Whittier, N. C. area and from my good buddy Marty Maxwell over in Graham County. Mind you, Marty doesn't fish the Park much, but he fishes Graham County a lot and talks to other locals. Folks there are even telling me the fabled speckled trout fishery on upper Big Snowbird is in abject decline (and that otters have arrived there). Sorry to sound so gloomy, but I'm rather pessimistic on these fronts.
Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

Hoosier
01-26-2011, 09:56 PM
Gosh, between the bears, horses and otters they just can't seem to get anything right there at GSMNP.

Funny how we all want some things regulated but others don't dear touch. Get them horses off the trails, they cause too much damage. Start spanking the bears, they are getting in the way of my outting. Shoot an otter, save a trout!

Oh, but my right to fish and hunt are protected so don't think of trying to mandate and take that away.

Just for clarification, I wholeheardetly support everyones right to enjoy the outdoors, however they wish hunting, I do, fishing, I do, hiking, I do, camping I do. I also have a passionate dislike for horses, otters are great only in the zoo, and bears, well I do like bears. I am admitedly selfish towards wanting more focus on the fisheries mgmt, not only here but everywhere. Not just with native trout but also with the asian carp invasion here in the midwest/well it isn't an invasion anymore, they are here, and the stripper and cod fisheries in the NE...

If I were king for a day, I would ban horses from not only the park but also from just about any public land, with the exception of reclamation mine ground, that is a good place for them. I would like to find the one guy that I watched riding pass me who was tossing Reese's wrappers on the trail that one day and give him a job cleaning up Metcalf Bottoms. If I only knew that waving my flyrod made em nervous... hmmm... no better not says the voice on my left shoulder. I would also ban any motorcycles (and I do ride) that carry a volume of more than 95 decibels from more than 100 feet , yeah I am biased against Harley's and crotch rockets. But I just don't think they have a place in the GSMNP or other great places like the ADK Mts, especially when I can be off the road on a stream or trail a quater mile or a half mile away and still hear em like they are right there. And that is from a guy who don't hear so good. Otters, well I'd like to cage em up and ship em to the zoo, or maybe those final pit impoundments on reclamation ground? Think they eat Asian Carp. If so I got a place for em. And well, if some guys wanna get together and spank some bear butt, have at it, I'll approve it in the park's new compendium.

But can't do that, I would have a revolt. The rich politicians that have horses would plot to overthrow me. All the woodcarvers, stuffed animal makers, and inn keepers at places like Bear Lodge, or Bruin Inn, or the Black Bear Den would revolt. And the ladies at the hemp store that sells patchouli and life is good stickers would probably just go and get he otters from the zoo put em in a bucket and do a little bucket biology on Lynn Camp to get the restocked brookies since I am more interested in protecting the fisheries than I am the otters.

Someone earlier stated it that alot of these problems (well the bears and horses) are the result of our poor practices, choices and behaviors. Amen to that. But can we regulate stupidity. The bears don't need a spanking, we do. When I see where guys take s#$ts against a tree in the middle of a backcounty site and then even had the audacity to leave the TP right next to it, who deserves the spanking? When I see a moron setting up a tent and sleeping literally under a bear cable which incidently has my pack and three others strung up, who deserves the mauling? When you have sites that on a given weekend can have an outfitter with 20 or more clients with full blown bakeries and kitchens operating, who deserves to have their tent raided. No these bears don't need to be spanked, they don't need to be relocated, they need to be shot because of our lame habits and poor backcountry habits. As I get older, I get more short tempered. And that worries me when I see these things, I worry that one day I will wave the rod at a horse, or accidently back into a row of 20 bikes, probably won't but...

Anyways is it a wonder that the NPS won't spank the bears? Whats the point. There is another park user that is coming behind the one that left who will be only enticing the next one to come in. Maybe the easiest thing to do is to close the trail. I am not saying that it is right to do that, but with shrinking budgets, yeah the stimilus is over (I hope) and more front country issues for Rangers to deal with what should they do? They aren't getting anymore help. Didn't you here no more budget increase for 5 years. Do we let the jerk in the campground that is drunk and beating on his old lady do what they do, so the Ranger can go trap and spank a bear or do we haul the scumbag to jail. And then when the Ranger does come in the backcountry for a visit and see's us frying a trout and check the size of the trout in the pan, well why is the Ranger not out doing something useful?

And suppose they adopt a position to deal with bears or otters or horse and the admiinistration lets them do so. Four years later, another administration and the pendulum swings back the other way to undo the work you just did.

I am not advocating that these things aren't important. They are to you, I think the are to me, but they aren't to others. Last time I checked the parks mission is to maintain the park "for the benefit and enjoyment of the people." The Park's purpose is "to preserve exceptionally diverse resources and to provide for public benefit from and enjoyment of those resources in ways
which will leave them basically unaltered by human influences."

Give em some credit at the park and give em a bit of a break. Have they done anything right? Would seem to think so based on the horses, bearsm and otters. And some would add the brook trout restoration projects. It seems disingenuous to sit there and constantly berate that your doing this wrong, that wrong and by the way that was stupid... Especially when we all benifit from what we have there whether it financially, spiritually or recreationally (is that a word?). Remember, everything they do is somehow mandated by us through the congress. The IRS agents aren't the villians for collecting taxes, the lawmakers are for passing tax laws that only an accountant can understand. The ATF aren't jack booted thugs. They enforce the laws that your reps passed. And the NPS isn't a buch of bear loving bark eating squirell cops that just want to mess with fisherman that like Hazel Creek. They are trying to balance the problem that we visitors have a hand in while addressing several interested parties. No just one or two. It is a massive and impossible job to please and satisfy so many people who advocate so many different park uses. Maybe we all just need to do our best to evaluate how we use the resources to protect and preserve, and help educate others. Stop relying on the government all the timw to regulate or prohibit or to spank.

spotlight
01-26-2011, 10:41 PM
Wow Hoosier that's an amazing rant.... Like I have always said, just way to many **** people here in the east you can't hardly go anywhere and get solitude anymore. As far as the bear spray a park ranger himself just told me and a friend back in October that it wasn't legal in the park. I guess the rangers don't even know what the rules are, they seem to change so much.

Myself I'd never carry it, I think it's a waste of weight I'd rather carry bourbon however I hope I'm there the day some moron tries to use it and some blows in their eye instead. I think if a bear is charging you chances of getting to it and using it just ain't gonna happen. But I bet the bears may just like a change of taste on their food.;)

I think your chances are better to educate yourself on what and what not to do IF YOU SEE A BEAR just my 2 cents what do I know....

Jim Casada
01-26-2011, 11:08 PM
Hoosier--I'm the one who started all three threads which have clearly elevated your blood pressure, so I'll try to reply. First--a bit of background in what I believe lawyers call "qualifying the witness." I probably have about as much experience connected with Park use and Park policies as anyone here, having grown up within walking distance of the Park, having fishing it for a total of 63 years, having known Park personnel (well in many cases) from boyhood to now, and having, I would like to think, done my fair share and then some in support of the Park.

The fact remains that there are a lot of areas where today's Park personnel don't deserve a lot of credit, just as there are others where they most certainly do. I am not totally critical of the Park and their policies, but the one point you do not really seem to mention is the one which concerns me most. We both agree that ultimately the problem is a people problem. BUT--and it is a big BUT--I think it has been exacerbated in the following ways:
(1) Insufficient attention to backcountry issues (admittedly personnel availability is some, but by no means all, the underlying explanation here). If there were more tickets, more patrolling, and more enforcement, at least some of the human behavior you so rightly deplore would lessen appreciably. That type of effort would in effect be the human spanking you mention, and it is desperately needed.
(2) Singularly unwise policies in some cases, and I think the otter restocking, running squarely in the face of similar work on speckled trout, is an example.
(3) As for the bears, no matter how much you and others like them, they are a growing problem because of an unnatural situation. What is unnatural? They have no predators and their numbers have skyrocketed to a point where carrying capacity, atypical behavior, loss of fear of humans, and related issues are increasingly in play. I can assure you, based on literally hundreds of backcountry camping experiences stretching over all but my youngest days, that the situation with bears has never been worse. In that regard, what solution would you offer to the bear problem, because I don't think you disagree that one exists?
(4) I'm about as conservative as you can get when it comes to reliance on government, so in one sense I'm in your camp, big-time, when it comes to bureaucracy. In this case though, what is the alternative?
(5) I'm not sure why you brought hunting into the picture, because it isn't even a consideration in the Park.
(6) I don't believe anyone has suggested shooting an otter, although I for one would sure like to see them trapped and transported far away.
I firmly believe that speaking out helps, and I readily do so, but in so doing I try to offer constructive alternatives. In your last paragraph you seem to say (although maybe you left out a key "not") that bears, horses, and otters have been things they have done right, although earlier you suggest otherwise. To me, all three have been poorly handled.
(7) Maybe I'm particularly passionate on this because I'm so passionate about the Park. It is literally my roots (My father grew up in the Park), and I care deeply.
What has been done right? Countless things--the Smoky Mountain Field School (in which I have taught for two decades), generally excellent frontcountry interaction with visitors, lots of devoted, dedicated personnel, the efforts at speckled trout restoration, close work with support organizations (GSMA and Friends of the Smokies), increasing attention to protecting and preserving the region's rich history, visitor centers which are truly welcoming, and more.

That being said, I for one am going to question things when I see them as a problem, because ignoring them, which in some ways you seem to suggest, will only worsen those problems. Also, the strength and beauty of this forum is the interchange of ideas and opinions, and all three of these posts have drawn a great deal of interest and input. I brought up each of these issues because they concern me, and some of my posts, like those of others, have offered constructive ideas for solutions right alongside the criticism--and I'd like to think that some of it is heard and at least to a degree, heeded.
I'll conclude with an admonition and encouragement not only to you but to every participant in this forum. Ask yourself two questions: (1) Are there Park policies and actions I don't like? I suspect the universal answer is yes. (2) What have you done about it? In my case I'm comfortable because I have complained, written letters, and published articles about my concerns. However, I have also done a good bit, monetarily and otherwise, to support the Park.
If each of us asks those questions, and answers them the way I would hope, we can have a positive impact.

Hoosier, if this offends you, it is not intended in that way. I strongly suspect we share a lot of common views, and you even indicate as much in your post. But I also interpreted your post as having overtones of "will you guys just shut up." I hope that's wrong, because civil interchange, and the ability to disagree without being disagreeable, is what makes this forum so great. It is also why I pretty much stay away from most others where that mindset doesn't exist.
Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

501
01-27-2011, 12:46 AM
Bear problems have a lengthy history in the park. In the 60's, for nightly entertainment in Cades Cove campground all the campers would stand by watching the (standard style non bear proof) garbage cans and watch bears come out in early evening and knock them over searching for food scraps. In the 70's and 80's massive bear jams were common on roadways when tourists would throw food to them. Bear jams still happen but I don't seem to see bears eating boxes of cereal as often. Hunting even has a modern history as I have seen rangers with scoped rifles at Spence Field hog hunting. They said that when they killed one they just left it where it fell. As to pepper spray I have been gassed both in the military and in police training. It is an experience to remember and not to repeat.

Lee

whitefeather
01-27-2011, 02:06 AM
How well bear pepper spray works is beyond refute. It's been proven to work quite effectively when used properly. There in lies the key.

"Used properly" just doesn't happen by itself without prior experience or practice. Just as any other weapon system, a knowledge of the mechanics of the system, how it is deployed, how it is targeted, and how it is initiated (triggered) is mandated in order to be effective. Just having it won't do much good under duress.

So, IMO as a former (retired) contractor weapons specialist and consultant for the 7th operations group, Special Operations Command (SOCOM) of the US Joint Forces, Fort Bragg, NC, it takes proper training and practice to be effective under duress in any situation where a complex or even a simple weapons system has to be deployed on target in an attack situation.


With a charging bear the time between first knowledge (surprise!) of the attack and the culmination of the charge to you is about 20 seconds (if that much), or so I have been told by experts. If you can deploy the pepper spray with a cool head, point it at the bear's face, and spray it, the attack will most likely be deflected, with the bear in retreat.

It's not rocket science, but it does take prior mental thought, to condition the mind to be alert and proactive and it takes mechanical exercise to step through the motions, before it is needed, to acquire the confidence level which will make it effective. Without first preparing for the situation, a person could very well spray themselves in the face :eek: or spray it ineffectively off to one side and miss the intended target. Not good!

Preparing for the possibility of a bear attack in an organized and thoughtful manner may save your life or someone else's if you decide to carry bear pepper spray for thwarting a bear attack, especially in the back country where medical attention could be several hours away.

As a few people mentioned earlier in this post, avoidance of the "why's" for bear attacks is the best, first defense, a person can enlist.

Just saying....

I hope everyone out there stays safe and out of harm's way out there in bear country!

Whitefeather
__________________________________________________
Blue skies, warm gentlw winds, and trout filled waters to all!:smile:

Owl
01-27-2011, 05:06 AM
14 rounds ( even 10 if you're nervous and get all squirrely) of .40 caliber hollow points from close range? I'll bet that against pepper spray any day, and it's equally effective against humans on meth, too.

Knothead
01-27-2011, 11:56 AM
I see a parallel in problems with bears in the park and mountain lions in California. Several years ago, California outlawed lion hunting, merely on the basis that they were cute kitty cats and it was cruel to kill them. Now, they are finding that the big cats have lost fear of people and are attacking people. I have a video about bears in Alaska. One thing the video shows is that problem bears are met with popper shotgun rounds and rubber slugs aimed at the tail area.
OTOH, I talked with a retired USFS employee several years ago at the VA clinic in Chattanooga. During the conversation, he stated that there are one or two people murdered every year on the AT for food, money, credit cards, or whatever. These crimes are hushed up so people won't quit using the AT. I sometimes feel more threatened by people that animals.
Trivia: More people are attacked by domestic animals that wild animals.
Jim, you always have some interesting items to stimulate thinking and ideas. Thanks!
Bumper sticker: If it's tourist season, why can't I shoot them?

Jim Casada
01-27-2011, 12:11 PM
John--The parallel between bears in the Park and cougars is an excellent one. There have been a number of mountain lion attacks in California, and as you indicate, they have come in the wake of a changed situation. It seems to me perfectly logical to conclude something similar is likely to transpire in the Park unless some changes in bear protocol are put in place.
Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

pmike
01-27-2011, 01:46 PM
It is so refreshing to see folks respond to one another, even to those with whom they/we may disagree, with kindness and consideration.

I especially appreciate Mr. Cassada's address of these matters both on this forum as well as in various articles he has written or other forums and interviews in which he has participated. I figure with Jim's history and positive involvement in the park and surrounding areas, that his voice and perspective will speak far louder than the voices of others like myself that are at best frequent visitors to the park.

Anyone can and most everyone does have an opinion on these matters, but few of us have or could for that matter, give the kind of time and effort to these issues that someone like Jim has. Having been in a position of leadership at times myself, I'd have to admit that the opinion of the guy or gal next to me with their sleeves rolled up at work with me, matters far more than the suggestions of some stranger just passing through. Let me clarify that i believe the opinions shared by each of you that have responded in this thread or on this forum are important and even very insightful. I am just saying that due to his commitment and involvement with the park service that IMHO Jim's opinions most likely carry more weight than mine or many other without that same relationship. This makes me appreciate Jim's thoughts and words shared all the more valuable because I feel he has and does speak for myself and for others that might not be heard otherwise.

I also want to express my appreciation to all of you participating in this and other such discussions. Overall the theme of these discussions appears to be one of "light a candle" rather than "curse the darkness". Such attitudes and efforts are far more apt to gain the attention and careful consideration of the "powers that be' than word or thoughts spewed out without thought or in anger.

I wonder if many of the issues with the park and personnel may be due to ignorance and the need for further and perhaps more practical education of their part? Maybe they would do well to listen to the likes of Jim and those of you that love the park, have some history with it and are willing to share by email or snail mail?

In closing let me say a simple thanks to all who are concerned and especially those who are working to make the park a better place for all of us!

God Bless,
Mike

whitefeather
01-27-2011, 02:11 PM
Knothead, Owl,

These are just my opinions on the points you have brought up.

I agree about the mountain lions in California, however, mountain lions are never afraid of humans or much else for that matter. They have no natural predatory enemies with the exception of man, and are at the top of the food chain, with man, being second level down. They are the most territorial, claim protecting, deadly predator one can encounter in the wild, IMO. They will kill wolves, bears, and humans who venture into their territory and their "skills" at doing so are highly evolved. Unarmed, unsuspecting humans, no problem! The cats may retreat on occasion, but they won't leave unless they are being pursued by hounds, and even at that they will be back, if they are not killed.

If you build a housing development on a mountain top in cat country you might expect the cats to be pressured out. They will not leave. They will just start picking off pets or humans as prey or to protect their claim.

The older and infirm cats, because they can no longer hunt efficiently or during times of very heavy snow, will come down into ranches, towns or close to human habitation to hunt. Colorado is a prime example of this, where it has taken place many times.

One couple lost a small child near Colorado Springs this very way.:frown: The child's remains (what was left) were found practically in the people's back yard (after an exhaustive search by search teams) where the female lion had a den in a "pretty rock out cropping" to the rear of their property. The cat probably watched the entire construction of the house from its lair as it basked in the afternoon sun waiting for its opportunity.

Another time in Boulder, I witnessed a mountain lion as it appeared in the middle of a downtown street in the older shopping district in Boulder. It was reported by many people immediately but eluded the authorities for quite sometime before it was captured. During that time, people's backyard pets started disappearing at an alarming rate. As far as California is concerned, those people "have made their own beds."

Owl,

What you suggested would depend on the number of people present at the time and the collateral damage that might be caused, i.e. Cade's Cove vs. backcountry trail. And I think your popularity within the human community might suffer considerably. I don't believe I would not need that many shots, but in the case of a six hundred pound bruin vs. a two hundred pound female or yearling, who knows.

Pepper spray would work in either case, effectively, if used properly, with little or no collateral damage and no dead bear to explain to the rangers. Depending on the situation (remember you're on federal land) you could be in serious trouble for "reckless discharge of a firearm" even if you were defending yourself. Just saying.....

As for the "meth makers", marijuana growers, and other criminals present in ever increasing numbers in our national forests and parks, I say, "Fire when ready! Fire for effect!"

I have often wondered if a long handled, electric, "cattle prod" would be an effective deterrent to bears (face or nose area), as it would seem to also make an excellent walking stick. I'll have to check in to that one.

Whitefeather
_________________________________________________
Blue skies, warm gentle winds, and trout filled waters to all!:smile:

NDuncan
01-27-2011, 03:27 PM
I have often wondered if a long handled, electric, "cattle prod" would be an effective deterrent to bears (face or nose area), as it would seem to also make an excellent walking stick. I'll have to check in to that one.!

They might be effective for deterring a bear who gets too close... Does a cattle prod have enough voltage/current to electroshock fish? Maybe only in smaller shallow pools, I don't know. Sounds like something poachers would do and the park would probably be against people carrying them.

whitefeather
01-27-2011, 05:12 PM
NDuncan,

The cattle prod is not capable of eletroshocking fish as configured. The fish would have to be between the prongs which are very close together. Electricity flows from one prong ("hot" side of the device) to the other, which is ground. They would have to be electrically several feet apart to electroshock fish and doubtfully, produce enough current to do that. It simply gives the cattle a "bite" or stinging sensation in a very small area on its body that makes them move along. Much like getting your buttocks pinched unexpectedly.:eek:

I would guess no one, other than a farmer or cattleman would even know what it was if you didn't tell them. Rangers don't check fishing licenses like they should. I'm sure the cattle prod would go unnoticed or be thought of as a "walking stick" in the back country or elsewhere.

Since a bear's nose and snout are quite sensitive as they are part of one of its keenest sensory parts, I'm thinking the "bite" would send them packing in a hurry. I'm sure I would not want to get that close to a really aggressive bear, but it might be good for less aggressive, pandering bears, and it certainly would enhance the bear's fear of humans.

In an emergency situation I would make the attempt if I had one. But here again, I would be **** sure of its effectiveness before hand. You could also smack the bear across the snout with it if all else fails. Just saying...

Whitefeather
__________________________________________________
Blue skies, warm gentle winds, and trout filled streams to all!:smile:

Kytroutbum
01-27-2011, 07:14 PM
I am not volunteering for testing the cattle prod idea!! Bear Spray is effective at 40 feet which is close enough for me. It is also effective on dogs, bison, moose and people. At around $40-$50. with the holster, I would assume it's cheaper than a cattle prod.

As far as the Rangers checking fishing license, the American people have very little idea how far stretched many of our Gov't agencies are, many times they have to prioritize their actions. Until I started working as a Camp Host, I never imagined the shape our governmental agencies are in! I was told to do what I could with minor violations by myself. (There is a difference in violators vs. uninformed) In a couple situations, I had to walk away and let it go knowing any enforcement backup would be hours away. By the way, a Forest Service field radio can be made to get someone's action, while your taking to "dead air" We were told to leave the area at the first hint of any possible major problem. As our L.E.O. told us a poached Bear, Moose or Elk is not worth a human life. Last summer, I saw FS personnel going way over and above their job helping visitors in our forest. Many times I have seen them come to the Bunk House at the Ranger Station after a 10-12 hour shift, only to have to leave again on their own time to help a visitor. Our encounters with them are only a few seconds compared to a very long complex day of service

gutshot
01-27-2011, 07:15 PM
i think that this is part of the problem.........these groups bring in tons of food, and while the guides may be wise enough to care about where their food crumbs are going---i'm guessing a majority of their clients dont......


Sounds like these outfitters have created the problem. I would think that the park needs to be writing some heavy fines for behavior that is making these wild animals act this way.

Anybody on this thread that thinks bears are anything like mountain lions doesn't know either one. Read FishNHunts first post and replace mountain lion for bear in each example. Not even in the same zipcode of similarities, both are mammals, yes.

Sounds also like the park is making a bad decisions and putting businesses above the importance of the wildlife in the park, which the park was created to protect.

Fix the reason the bears are acting the way that they are acting, the food.

Knothead
01-27-2011, 08:19 PM
mountain lions are never afraid of humans or much else for that matter
If they are never afraid of humans, then why are they being seen more often than during the time that they were hunted? Why are we seeing more confrontations? Encroachment on territory is a good point but some areas have been around for many years with human habitation.
The fact is- they are becoming a problem.

fishermen00
01-27-2011, 09:22 PM
If they are never afraid of humans, then why are they being seen more often than during the time that they were hunted? Why are we seeing more confrontations? Encroachment on territory is a good point but some areas have been around for many years with human habitation.
The fact is- they are becoming a problem.


No thread stealing here but I would like to make a comment about the mountain lion issue. I've done a little seaching on the web over the holidays due to pure curiosity and the fact is, mountain lions are coming east just like the coyote's in the 70's.

What I found out is that in Iowa, they are seeing more and more mountain lions on a regular basis. The anti's are up in arms as they will not enact some type of season/bag limit on these small numbers of cats. I read between the lines and realized why, they want them exterminated as would I if I lived in Iowa.

Big cats are a problem for humans. I have a friend who lives in Twin Falls Idaho, about 3 years ago they killed 3 in downtown twin falls in the summer time. I for one do not want to share the woods with these predators, let alone my family.

As for trying out the cattle prod on a charging bear, good luck with that :biggrin:. I'd like to be at a safe distance to watch the outcome.

IMO

501
01-27-2011, 09:23 PM
The last time I researched it the number of murders on the AT was up to 9. Statistically you have a better chance of being harmed getting to and from than while in the park. That being said the obvious statement is "do you feel lucky "? I prefer to create my own odds utilizing a lot of preparation and preventive philosophy.
I talked with an enforcement ranger in the park last August. He said that his assigned area of patrol that day(and most days) covered little river from the townsend Y to Sugarlands (including Elkmont), Roaring Fork and Newfound Gap road to Clingmans Dome. This is a lot of territory to cover by one person as can easily seen. Manpower in the park is spread very thin which may require a little self reliance on our part in certain situations. I know I'm speaking rather broadly but it should be food for thought.

FishNHunt
01-27-2011, 09:31 PM
Jim I didn't see a drop in hog numbers this year in areas close to the park. They may have.poisoned them but I believe that the payer hunters killed in the neighborhood of 4-500 the year before last. I have read alot of the posts and won't make a lengthy post since I'm using the wife's phone and am doing good just to find the buttons.

lauxier
01-27-2011, 10:00 PM
I have flyfished the park for about 35 years.I know I ought to be more of a nature person.BUT I dislike bears..bears are canine...some bears are pet like-some bears will attack you--I do not respect them much because they are not to be TRUSTED..

whitefeather
01-28-2011, 12:31 AM
If they are never afraid of humans, then why are they being seen more often than during the time that they were hunted? Why are we seeing more confrontations? Encroachment on territory is a good point but some areas have been around for many years with human habitation.
The fact is- they are becoming a problem.

You more or less answered your own question and I agree with you. It's because they are not afraid of humans that they are being seen more often than when being hunted or pursued. When they know they are being hunted or pursued, they hide, usually up a tall tree on a broad limb or something similar. Cats like high places. I explained the migration to human habitat further in my post. Older cats who are infirm or have bad teeth can't bring down their usual prey, so they go looking for easier prey with more dense populations, ranches, suburbs, etc. Younger ones will come down from high range during heavy snows because that is where their prey went or they will seek out easier, less crowded (in terms of other cats) areas to hunt. Because of territorial competition and because they are not afraid of man they aren't going to be bothered about coming to town in densely human populated areas. They are typical of all cats, stealthy, sneaky, quiet, with the ability to hide in plain sight and a dominant attitude when it comes to survival and an easy meal. IMO they are the most dangerous solitary predator in the continental US, except for maybe the alligator. But alligators can't climb or hide in trees or run and jump like mountain lions, cougars, pumas, whatever you want to call them!

I reported in a post a few weeks ago that I had seen a cougar about two hundred from my property here in a heavily wooded area of Indiana. Yesterday I turned on my electric fence and discovered that it was shorted out somewhere. When I went looking for the short in the fence, I found a large section of fence in one corner near the road closest to the woods was down, tangled up, and the insulators either broken off or flung across the road into the woods. The tracks and skid marks in the snow told the story! The cougar (not a bobcat, I've seen it) had tried to take down a deer in my backyard and on a full run had slid in the mushy, melting snow down the steep hillside into a corner steel t-post (three feet of which were in the ground), which was knocked almost completely over and out of the ground. There was no sign of a successful kill, but from the tracks it had obviously been attempted. My yellow Labrador had been going nuts the night before around 9:00pm and wanted out of the house to chase an intruder it knew was there, but one I didn't see when I switched on the flood lights out back.


Whitefeather
_________________________________________________
Blue skies, warm gentle winds, and trout filled waters to all!:smile:

whitefeather
01-28-2011, 01:42 AM
Me, with my night vision scope and my trusty .308.

Here kitty, kitty! Nice kitty, take that you sucker! Blam! Blam!

Whitefeather
_________________________________________________
Blue skies, warm gentle winds, and trout filled waters to all!:smile:

Crockett
01-28-2011, 09:28 AM
Jim I didn't see a drop in hog numbers this year in areas close to the park. They may have.poisoned them but I believe that the payer hunters killed in the neighborhood of 4-500 the year before last. I have read alot of the posts and won't make a lengthy post since I'm using the wife's phone and am doing good just to find the buttons.

Winters with lots of heavy snow in the smokies will kill off much of the hogs. I have heard rangers say that the winter of 1993 cut the hog population down to almost nothing. The hogs apparently have a hard time surviving when there is 4 feet of snow and the ones that can't make it down to lower elevations die. In the spring of 93 you could smell a lot of them rotting up near the AT. I suspect that last winter and this winter are taking out a pretty good number of hogs just like 1993 did.

whitefeather
01-28-2011, 10:02 AM
Crockett,

Thanks for the enlightening post. I never really thought about it. Sometimes we humans forget the broader spectrum of nature's power.

We always here about the hurricanes, tornados, and floods because disaster is always newsworthy I suppose. Seldom do we hear of the subtleties of nature's power in balancing out the ecological misfortunes we as people have caused her.

Hopefully the hog numbers will drop again! Does anyone know if the hogs even serve an ecological purpose in the Smokies, being that they are remnants of a bygone era run amok?

Whitefeather
_________________________________________________
Blue skies, warm gentle winds, and trout filled waters to all!:smile:

NDuncan
01-28-2011, 11:22 AM
Does anyone know if the hogs even serve an ecological purpose in the Smokies, being that they are remnants of a bygone era run amok?


Keeping the snake populations down?

Jim Casada
01-28-2011, 11:36 AM
NDuncan--I'm not sure whether you posted this in jest or not, but I can assure you that snake populations in the Park have plummeted amazingly since I was a boy. I can remember riding an inner tube down Deep Creek (long before this became a craze there) and seeing dozens of water snakes drop from limbs along the way. I also had far more encounters with poisonous snakes while fishing than I do today. Hogs definitely work on them in a big way, but it that's a positive (and I'm not sure it is), that's the sole possible benefit I can think of connected with wild hogs.
Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

NDuncan
01-28-2011, 12:16 PM
Jim,

I wasn't posting it in jest, in fact I'm pretty sure I only became aware of the hogs/snakes connection because of your book, so I probably should have cited you! I hate the vile creatures, so anything reduces the number of snakes is ok by me. I guess I posed it more of a question because 1.) not everyone feels the same about snakes as I do, 2.) snakes are extremely important in the keeping the populations of other small critters in check, so they certainly have their place, 3.) probably many people would argue that any benefit that the hogs provide in terms of thinning out snake populations is too small in comparison to the damage they do.

Maybe if the hog populations were thinned way down and the snakes rebounded to the levels they were at previously it may be a good thing, since the rattlers and copperheads hang out relatively close to water, maybe they go to work on the otters? They would at least take out some of the young. Same with the black snakes, some of those are big enough they may eat an adolescent. Of course this is all speculative on my part, because I don't know if snakes will go after otters or not.

Knothead
01-28-2011, 12:23 PM
I can't remember where I saw or read, but there have been unconfirmed sightings of lions as far east as northern Illinois, Indiana being farther east. Peter Hathaway Captstick mentioned in one of his books as seeing pug marks on his local golf course in southern Florida. As for adaptability, he mentions in one book that two leopards were found living in a football stadium in South Africa, living on pigeons. My parents lived in Los Angeles and many times saw coyotes trotting along the expressway in the middle of LA (not Lower Alabama). One thing I find on the message board is that we can agree/disagree and still get along. I find it stimulating to read differing opinions and other material. I had a seminary professor say you learn more from your critics than from your companions.
The weather looks decent next week- anyone going fishing?

Rog 1
01-28-2011, 01:39 PM
Another big element in whether or not there are "lions" in the Park and surrounding areas is the gentic makeup of these cats...here in Florida we have our original panthers and the introduction of the western cats into the mix...my cousin in Sevierville swears he saw a lion one night driving over Newfound Gap road...in Florida I have seen just one here in N. Fla late one night as it crossed the interstate...we do have a population here and it is not beyond imagination to believe that over time they have come to migrate north through Ga....

whitefeather
01-28-2011, 02:08 PM
Knothead wrote: "I can't remember where I saw or read, but there have been unconfirmed sightings of lions as far east as northern Illinois, Indiana being farther east."

Guys, I live in far south central Indiana at the beginning of the hardwood forest and hill country. We've got a mountain cat here now, and as far back as when I was about 10 or eleven years old, some fifty five years ago, they were being randomly reported by the public and by various police agencies. However, our DNR folks have consistently denied their existence citing the claims as hysterical and non-factual, wives tales, etc. Mind you several were killed on the highways, but they didn't exist, so it must have been somebody's imagination at work. Right!

One was killed by a surgical nurse returning home after mid-night one year and another by an Indiana State Policeman when they hit with their cars. Everybody, especially the sheep and cattle farmers kept asking, "where did they come from?" Are they killing my sheep? (yes) Are they killing my heifers? (yes) After looking back over time, the only logical answer is "they never left!" They adapted and moved into heavily wooded areas of hardwoods. From there they raided nearby farms and sparsely populated housing additions.

We have quite a few large, heavily wooded, military reservations that have been closed over the last ten years, that were not used extensively when they were active. One is within five miles of home. A hunter killed a black panther (mountain lion) in his drive way one morning that had gotten itself trapped in his garage (don't know how) when he was preparing to go hunting. He was loading his gear into his truck, forgot something in his garage, hit the garage door opener button to discover his garage was a total mess. He grabbed his shotgun, loaded it, and about that time the cat tried to make its escape. It escaped into a well placed deer slug. He lived down the road from a buddy of mine's uncle where we staying getting ready to go hunting also. When we heard the sirens coming down the road we went to check it out and saw the big cat on the garage floor. That military base also has timber wolves in it, some of which Craig and I killed whenever we saw them coming out of the base. DNR is now admitting the timberwolves exist. Too many sightings by trappers, hunters and troopers to deny it any further.

We have coyotes out the wahzoo. You can't get anyone to listen to you when you tell them these things, that is until their pets disappear. When they come to me asking me if I saw their dog or their cat that is missing, I ask them, "have you checked with the coyote pack, maybe they saw them?" Most of them just stare at me like I'm crazy. For gosh sake, anybody can hear the 'yotes between 9:00 to 10:00pm yodeling, howling, yipping their brains out, but even though, you can't get those citified, flat lander, country wanna be's to actually countrify themselves and wise up to natures facts. We also have an alarming, growing population of wild hogs two counties to our south.

Now snakes... I like snakes! Black snakes eat the rattlers. And rattlers make great Valentines Day gifts for my city friends down the road! :biggrin:

Just kidding! Couldn't resist popping that one in there!

Whitefeather
__________________________________________________
Blue skies, warm gentle winds, and trout filled streams to all!:smile:

501
01-28-2011, 10:53 PM
Not sure about the effects of severe winter weather on the hogs. Recent TV documentaries suggest that they are at least distantly related to the russian wild boar. These porkers survive siberian winter snow! As their adaptability is apparently phenomenal it may be that purported snow dieoffs may be on the decrease in the future.

Lee

Crockett
01-28-2011, 11:23 PM
Not sure about the effects of severe winter weather on the hogs. Recent TV documentaries suggest that they are at least distantly related to the russian wild boar. These porkers survive siberian winter snow! As their adaptability is apparently phenomenal it may be that purported snow dieoffs may be on the decrease in the future.

Lee

True the info I got from a ranger was the snow really did a number on the hogs in 93 but I haven't heard anything about the last two years. However last winter in particular we had several feet of snow up in the high country a lot more than anytime since 93. Speaking of how Russian boars fare in the snow here is an interesting link talking about that: http://www.russianhunting.com/wild-boar-hunting-in-russia/

whitefeather
01-29-2011, 12:46 AM
Another big element in whether or not there are "lions" in the Park and surrounding areas is the gentic makeup of these cats...here in Florida we have our original panthers and the introduction of the western cats into the mix...my cousin in Sevierville swears he saw a lion one night driving over Newfound Gap road...in Florida I have seen just one here in N. Fla late one night as it crossed the interstate...we do have a population here and it is not beyond imagination to believe that over time they have come to migrate north through Ga....

We definitely have them here in 5 Indiana counties. If we have them in the hill country hardwood forests, chances are you folks down south near the park either have them already or will have soon. This report is in the county to the south of mine.

Mountain Lion Sightings Prompt Warning From Sheriff

Lawrence County Officer Sees Animal Eating Deer Carcass

POSTED: 10:44 am EDT November 1, 2010
BEDFORD, Ind. -- A southern Indiana sheriff is warning the public about the presence of mountain lions in the area after four reported sightings in the past week. One of the sightings was by a Lawrence County police officer, who spotted a mountain lion eating a deer carcass along Indiana 37 north of Bedford over the weekend.

Lawrence County Sheriff Sam Craig told The Times-Mail that while he doesn't want to alarm people, he wants residents to take proper precautions. Three other sightings were reported to the department last week.

http://www.myphotos.yahoo.com/s/20yakcy0osufo6zfob4r

http://www.myphotos.yahoo.com/s/20yakcy0osufomkg628l

A mountain lion was captured on camera earlier this year roaming in rural Greene County.

State officials have confirmed instances of mountain lions in nearby Greene and Clay counties in the past year. The animals had last been confirmed in the 1860s.

In September, workers at Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center in southwestern Indiana were warned to be on the lookout for mountain lions.

Biologists said male mountain lions can weigh up to 150 pounds and females about 90 pounds. Conservation officers say people shouldn't make rapid or aggressive movements toward the big cats. Instead, the Department of Natural Resources urges people to stand and face the animal, make eye contact and try to appear as large as possible. Mountain lions are a protected species in Indiana, but state law allows a resident landowner or tenant to kill a mountain lion while it is causing damage to property.


Whitefeather
__________________________________________________
Blue skies, warm gentle winds, and trout filled streams to all!:smile:

silvercreek
01-29-2011, 10:02 AM
Byron commented on lion activity in the 12/28/2010 fishing report as well as providing a link to a news story about the retirement of Kim DeLozier Chief Wildlife Biologist for the GSMNP in which it references his finding deer which appeared to have been attacked by lions. Silvercreek

fearnofishbob
01-29-2011, 10:14 AM
Guys, I've missed it somewhere !! IS pepper spray legal in the Smokys or not ?? ...Sure would appreciate your help.....

Kytroutbum
01-29-2011, 11:10 AM
FEARNOFISHBOB- Check out the 2nd page of this thread, I have three times posted quotes, I have recieved to my question about the Bear Spray from GSMNP Headquarters that Bear Spray is allowed/Legal in the park. Immediately after mine, Ifish4wildtrout's reply has a quote from an official GSMNP brochure referring to the use of bear spray. Spotlight's citation is from a Blog and a not official gov't site. The "Ranger" may/or may not have been a "seasonal" not really sure of the status of bear spray. I haven't heard of bear spray being carried until after the death of the lady above Elkmont , when I started to carry it.

Randall Sale
the Kytroutbum

sammcdonald
01-29-2011, 08:06 PM
we now sell bear spray in the park stores....everything we sell has to be approved by the park...ergo, it's currently legal

ifish4wildtrout
01-29-2011, 08:32 PM
I was already worried about being eaten by a bear now I have to worry about being eaten by a cougar. This is going to make for some sleepless nights when solo'ing in the backcountry. :biggrin:

FishNHunt
01-29-2011, 09:43 PM
First I'd like to say that I am 100% sure that there is NOT a breeding population of mountain lions in the park. That couldn't have been said 200 years ago but, today it is a fact. If there were more than the dropped off "pet" mtn lions that starve soon after release I and or alot of other houndsmen would have treed one in areas around the park.

Now, I'd like to give everyone alittle history lesson. Some may already know this but, others may not.

To give an example of the hunting pressures that bears were facing "back in the day" I'd like to give you some figures of individuals "harvests" threw out history.

Montraville "Mont" Plott. Born 1850 died 1924 a total of 211 bears were taken with a single shot muzzle loading pistol by this 1 man alone. Side note. not all came from the Smokies but a healthy sum sure did.

George "Turkey" Palmer (ever heard of the "'Palmer" house in Cataloochee) born 1856 died 1944 a total of 106 bears taken. side note. Turkey requested to the burried and a steel casket so that all the bears he had killed couldn't exact revenge upon his body once dead.

William "Black Bill" Walker (Lived in present day Tremont) Born 1838 died 1919 I couldn't find an exact number of total kills but, in 1 day he killed 3 bears and saw 20. The next day and and 5 friends went back and killed 6 more bears, 4 of which were killed in 10 minutes.

I could go on and on with numberous hunters with 100s of bear kills acredited to their names but, I'll not bore anyone any longer. Why I said this is will become clearer at the end of the post.

In 1935 a group of hunters entered the Hazel creek drainage for a guided bear hunt. .The group consisited of Von. Plott along with his nephew "little" George Plott, Jim and Oliver Laws, Bob Haynes, Taylor Wilson, and Branch Rickey. For those that don't know Branch Rickey is the man who (to me) changed baseball forever by signing none other than Jackie Robinson. On this hunt 20 bears were "jumped" in only three days of hunting. They ended up killing 8 bears with a record 6 bears killed in 1 day. Remember that number.

In 1946 a man by the name of Granville Calhoun had the last LEGAL hunt in the Hazel Creek drainage. His family had been forced out of there long time home on Hazel creek by the formation of the National park and TVA. However, Granville reserved the rights for one last bear hunt and at the age of 72 he along with friends "went out with a bang". In the first day alone the gang "ran" 16 different bear and killed 3. The next day they killed 2 more and by the time that they finished their hunt (no dates as to how long they hunted are given) the group had killed 27 bears in the Hazel and Eagle creek drainages.

You must remember that this hunt took place after the logging and the Chestnut blight. So the amount of "hard mast" must have been minimal. Also and the thing that perks my ears more than anything. This was a time when these people were living in these areas. These bears were being hunted day and night, year around with no quarter given to sows or cubs. The population of bears at that time had to be dwindling but, Hazel creek seems to have drawn bears in from afar.

What I'm getting at is this. Bears have always favored Hazel and Eagle creek drainages for some reason or another. There have been and always will be a large number of bears in this area. Unless you take the people out of the area or (as jim brought to my attention) tramatize these bears their WILL continue to be issues with human and bear incounters.

FishNHunt
01-29-2011, 09:57 PM
In defense of houndsmen I'd like to explain and enlighten some of you all as to what and why we do what we do.

Jim. I saw that you favored the "old" time tradition of hunting bear with hounds. I agree that ALL hunting alond with ourselves have become "modernized". To many of us what something and we want it NOW. With all the imaginary "lines in the sand" I must alway be aware of where my hounds are at all times. Between the State bear reserves, national park boundries, and private property dotting every parcel of woods it's only a matter of time before they enter into the "forbidden" lands. If I had no job or a wife expecting me home by dark and no "lines in the sand" to worry about I would take my collars off my hounds and follow them to where ever their hearts desired. Since women don't "stick" around long anymore when their man goes hunting and stays gone for days at a time I have GPS, radio telemetry, and shocking collars on everyone of my hounds. The GPS lets me see them and any boundry nearby. The radio telemetry is back up incase and when the GPS goes down. The shocking collars are so that I can prevent them from chasing unwanted game, get them off a road or out of someones chicken coop. Shocking collars are not barberic but essential since I can't reason with my hounds by asking them not to chase farmer Browns prized angus steer or Miss Patties registard walking horse threw the fence. The shocking collars are also equipped with a "buzz" sound that my hounds are at the present time being trained to "recall" with. This way I'm not standing in the road by someones house at 3am yelling for my hounds and waking everyone up. Bear hunting and hunters got and some still get a bad reputation because it is in some areas a visible and social sport. The older men loiter around the roads listening to the "race" along with the "fat" boys who would rather tell lies and smoke cigerettes than actually beat the bush. They do however help the "brush beaters" like myself by catching dogs off the roads and a sure death by a speeding car or picked up by a "do gooder" who thinks that all tracking collars are shocking collars. They also TRY to stop dogs from entering the park or private properties. I can asure everyone that 99% of all bears taken in a season can NOT be seen from any road. Alot of the men that I know ( I usually hunt alone but, socialize with many) kill very few bears. They get the new hunters or young hunters in and let them kill the bear. (I'll not say harvest to often because when you take any life it's called killing and you harvest corn.) I could kill a bear almost every year. However, I choose to let them go. I've not pulled the trigger myself on a bear in 5 years and I know of one man who's dogs have been the demise of dozens of bears and he hasn't fired a shot in 20 years. Hound hunting is the only form of "catch and release" hunting that their is. Just like when I catch a super sized trout, I don't mount or eat hardly any. It's about the experience and being in the woods. Of all my accomplishments this year my greatest feat was bush whacking 25.3 miles in 2 days up and over the mountains of Joyce Kilmer Wilderness following my hounds and walking in the same places that men like John Denton walked. It's the history, tradition, excitement, shear terror, pushing myself to the limit of physical exhaustin, seeing things that so many others have not and lastly listening as my hounds go up and over another mountain and out of hearing knowing that my day still hasn't ended. It's the antisipation of "wonder what's over that ridge" that spurs me on and keeps me doing what I love to do.

501
01-29-2011, 11:00 PM
FishNhunt
Not to be arguementative but I wonder about the theory that there are no breeding cats in the smokies based solely on your hounds activities. I say this based on experinces I have had with dog deer drives in Alabama (we call them
dogs in Alabama instead of hounds). The bigger more mature deer always seem to slip thru without dogs on his heels. I surmise this may be possible with the cats also. Although I seldom hunt in this manner anymore I do applaude you for dedication to a southern tradition and your efforts at controling the actions of your dogs(hounds). Someday I would love to participate in a bear hunt with hounds (killing is not important) just for the traditional enjoyment.

FishNHunt
01-29-2011, 11:52 PM
501,
I guess putting it the way that I did sounds a little chauvinistic. I apologize for that.

I do not believe that there is a breeding population of mountain lions in TN for a couple of reasons. The first is the fact that there are so many cameras in the woods nowadays. Be it carried on some ones person or strapped to a tree taking pictures of any and every critter that activates the motion trigger. The amount of people visiting these “hard to reach” areas with in the park are astronomical. I believe there would be more signs of kills noticed by people. People don’t like to see dead and or half eaten creatures lying beside a park trail. Someone would have already called the park service to “remove” the carcasses of these animals. Also, I’ve yet to see a “track in the snow” picture taken from the park. People taking scenic pictures in the park have a tendency of taking animal track pictures. I can’t remember the exact numbers but, there are millions of visitors to the park every year with thousands of vehicles and none have yet to hit a mountain lion. Last but, surely not least there were a couple red wolves released in the park some years ago. People saw them seemingly everywhere. I personally saw two, 1 at Sugarland and the other in Elkmont campground. This tells me that sooner or later with all the activity within the park there should be multiple sightings.

When I say a “breeding” population I mean more than 10 unrelated wild and educated mountain lions would have to be present to continue the existence of the species. If you take the estimated number of mountain lions per 1000 acres out west and the amount of prey animals per same 1000 acres you have a very low number of mountain lions because of the lack of prey. However, in the park you could lower your estimated amount of acres to 100s instead of 1000s. The mount of prey animals available to a mountain lion in the park would be as vast as one could imagine. Within the park 3-4 male mountain lions could service several dozen females. The survival rate of the cubs would be surely close to 75% the first few years because the deer, hog and any other small critter population hadn’t “imprinted” the threat of the mountain lion yet and leaving them virtually defenseless against an attack. Also, the highest mortality rate of cubs is suffered by adult males killing the cubs to bring the female back into estrous. With only 3-4 males and females only having to have a “core” area of a couple hundred acres this would decrease unwanted incounters of females with cubs and "prowling" males and increase the cub survival rate 2 fold. Within the first few years the population of mountain lions would jump to numbers that you would see a decrease in hogs and deer densities and sightings would be rampant. However, if the population of mountain lions in the park were only 5 (3 females and 2 males) the threat of inbreeding after only a few generations would be inevitable. With inbreeding brings birth defects, dieses and massive die off.
So, could a mountain lion make a GREAT living within the confines of the Smoky Mountains National Park? Absolutely! Do they? I very highly doubt it.

It is legal to own mountain lions in some states. I had a friend whose uncle in Kansas owned one until his child was born. Most of these “pet” mountain lions are declawed and defanged. These “pet” mountain lions are not allowed to catch game and loose the ability to hunt. Once they try to eat the owner or out grow their stay they are released into the “wild” where they are left helpless without claws or fangs, unless they can find a garbage dump. The reason that they are released instead of taken to a large cat institute can vary but, some reasons are that they may have been kept illegally or the owner’s lack of knowledge of what is required for a cat to climb a tree or make kill and they believe that their “fluffy” will make it in the wild. In reality they suffer starvation and exposure and die a lonely, miserable and painful death.

TNBigBore
01-31-2011, 11:09 AM
I can't speak with any authority on mountain lions in the GSMNP, but I do know for a fact that there is at least one in Northwest Alabama. I have seen the game camera footage of it and know a man and his wife that saw one on a rock outcropping near the same area. I realize that it could be a transient individual, but maybe not.

Also, when I worked for the fisheries crew with TWRA, we were approached several times by folks who had seen what they thought to be mountain lions. Once when we stopped for lunch at The Shack in Del Rio, we were approached by several carloads of people claiming that a mountain lion was near a swimming area on the French Broad screaming at people from across the river and pacing the bank in plain sight.

My uncle who lives in a remote cabin within a small inholding in the CNF in Polk County claims to have seen several over the years mostly around Big Frog Mountain on the Georgia line.

Even though my old prof Mike Pelton at UT (one of the foremost black bear experts there is) did not think there were breeding populations of mountain lions in the East outside of the Florida as of the early 90s, I just don't know. The deer population in many states has exploded in the last 30 years. It stands to reason that their primary predator would at least attempt to move back into their old range. It is very interesting discussion topic at very least.

Knothead
01-31-2011, 12:05 PM
As the population of any wildlife increases, they must move to new areas to live. Interesting posts here about bears, mountain lions, etc. I know of at least one of the aforementioned stays in Chicago.:biggrin:

I recall reading that our own Davy Crockett killed 400 bears on one year.

Jim Casada
02-01-2011, 01:29 PM
FishNHunt--Your listing gives some index to the numbers of bears in the past (when they were hunted), and I would add names such as Uncle Mark Cathey and Sam Hunnicutt, both of whom were mighty bear hunters. For anyone interested in great detail, Bob Plott (of the Plott hound family) has written books on hunting in the Smokies as well as one on Plott hounds.
All of this simply reinforces (at least to me) what I have said about my worries connected with bears in the Park.
Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

FishNHunt
02-01-2011, 08:25 PM
Jim. I've read Bobs' plott history book and hunting and fishing in the Smokies (or something close to that title) and they are indeed very good. On another note. Wasn't "Uncle" Mark considered to be one of the best fly fishermen to ever fish the park? I believe if my memory serves me right that he and someone else (maybe it was even Sam Hunnicutt) had a little tourneyment where they both landed over 200 "specks" in a single day. I will never forget the statement that he made to the man he was guiding when he caught the single small speck. The man asked what he should do now and "uncle" mark said "sir I believe that you should climb out on your pole and stab it todeath with that bowie knife".

flyman
02-03-2011, 11:26 AM
14 rounds ( even 10 if you're nervous and get all squirrely) of .40 caliber hollow points from close range? I'll bet that against pepper spray any day, and it's equally effective against humans on meth, too.

Have you ever shot anything other than paper targets or empty beer cans? Ask any cop or combat vet what it was like the first time they had to shoot at something that was a direct threat. The last time a bear charged me I might have gotten off 2 rounds if I had the gun in my hand and a round chambered. I rounded a rock outcropping and she was drinking from a spring with a couple of cubs. I was 40' from her, and she was on me so quick all I had time to do was yell and wave my arms. I am just waiting, it's only a matter of time before someone with a CCP shoots an animal, or worse yet someone with them. Firing the weapon and mussel awareness under stress are two separate issues.

I have nothing against firearms, I own several. Scared minimally trained people with them scare me. I've been shot at, and I have shot back many times (Hospital Corpsman USN, 2nd Marine Division) Vietnam. The fear and adrenaline is overwhelming, especially the first few times. I am a big fan of the pepper spray, that way hopefully nothing ends up dead, not you, the animal, or someone with you.

Kytroutbum
02-03-2011, 12:00 PM
flyman- I agree 100%. One of my biggest nightmares as a campground host is some Wyatt Earp wounding a bear at night in a campground. Most bear attacks are actually bluff charges, with the bear veering off at the last minute. In a bear charge, things happen very quickly- too quickly to change from a fishing mode to accurately placing several rounds into the bear.

Jim Casada
02-03-2011, 01:21 PM
FishNHunt--Your memory is correct, and it is quite possible you got your information on Cathey from my book on fishing in the Park (if you have read it). It is full of Cathey anecdotes. He is today best remembered as a fisherman, but he was a mighty hunter as well. I'm wound up for two or three hours of tale telling on him and often share one or two of them when speaking to fishing groups.
It's possible that you read Hunnicutt's book, although I'd be a bit surprised. It is extremely rare--value well north of $1000.
Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

Rog 1
02-03-2011, 01:53 PM
flyman- I agree 100%. One of my biggest nightmares as a campground host is some Wyatt Earp wounding a bear at night in a campground. Most bear attacks are actually bluff charges, with the bear veering off at the last minute. In a bear charge, things happen very quickly- too quickly to change from a fishing mode to accurately placing several rounds into the bear.

Randall...I have met you on several occasions up above Elkmont in the fall and have always remembered you as one of the first fishermen observed with bear spray in the backcountry....know that you are a big supporter of this deterrent...my question, what type of spray do you consider to be the most effective...as with all other products I know there is a wide variety on the market...with all this "bear talk" on the board in the last year I am now considering acquiring the spray as part of my fishing inventory...thanks.

lauxier
02-03-2011, 03:00 PM
I have not had any bear encounters over the past 35 years,since i took up fishing in the park,BUT,here's a few of my experiences:
1)almost hit a young male with my truck just past the institute on Tremont
2)had a bear following me in the dark,as I returned to my truck,20+years ago
3)lately(the last 5 years)I usually see a bear or a bear with babies hanging around-it's hard to fish
4)none of the bears I have seen,seem like they want trouble,but they have always been a ways off.
5)I was close enough,so as to smell , a mature male,one august,rainy,day .The bear smelled like a wet dog.
6)over the years,I have seen,while fishing,maybe 60-75 bears
Conclusion:The bear population is the highest in park history(I think I read that somewhere,numbers 3000'ish,correct me( if wrong)--tragic encounters are bound to happen.Tragedy is one of those recollection words we try to avoid,because ,Tragedy,in bear talk,means "should not have happened"...I think Jim is right,there is a problem,but what do you do???

Kytroutbum
02-03-2011, 04:02 PM
Rog 1- The Forest Service issues us Counter Assault and Udap. Both of these are 2% Capsaicin- the pepper. The spray time is the important factor. It's fired off in 1 second bursts. It is a oil base mist that suspends in the air. Recieving free spray from the FS, We pack 3 with us when we hike and fish. The 3rd in my side pouch of pack, NOT IN IT. What we are usually given has a lower spray times of 5 seconds. I grab any Counter Assaults if they are available first. They have a longer spray time. Before I worked for the FS, I purchased Counter Assault has a 10.2 oz. (largest can) It has a 9 second spray time. It can be ordered through www.counterassault.com. Their website has a lot of educational information, comparison charts, etc. If you have any questions, I've found that they will reply quickly and are extremely helpful. The propellant is the only thing that degrades, after several years, the same strength of "pepper" will not travel quite as far.

Anyone purchasing or carrying spray needs to view their site to educate themselves on its use. Spraying around the tent acts as an attractant(:>) The idea is to stop the bear long enough, by putting up a wall of mist, to allow you to get out of the area.

An aside backcountry campers might want to look into their bear barrels. If they were required and enforced alot of backcountry issues might be solved.

According to our Ranger who was in Soda Butte Campground immediately after the July 28th Grizzly attacks- All three campers who were attacked, had CLEAN sites and followed all the food storage rules. The bears were brought into the area by picnickers and food scraps left by other campers. After several weeks, the sow decided to switch from garbage to "higher forms" of protein. This is the scenerio, I see occuring in the Smokies.
Someone paying for someone else's sins- I preach this to our campers in the Shoshone.

Like many of you, I've gone from very rarely seeing a bear to having had several "encounters" where I've felt I needed my spray out and ready.
But I feel that if I have to use it, either in the Smokies or the Shoshone Forest, it'll probably be more likely on a dog.

GrouseMan77
02-03-2011, 06:08 PM
Have you ever shot anything other than paper targets or empty beer cans? Ask any cop or combat vet what it was like the first time they had to shoot at something that was a direct threat. The last time a bear charged me I might have gotten off 2 rounds if I had the gun in my hand and a round chambered. I rounded a rock outcropping and she was drinking from a spring with a couple of cubs. I was 40' from her, and she was on me so quick all I had time to do was yell and wave my arms. I am just waiting, it's only a matter of time before someone with a CCP shoots an animal, or worse yet someone with them. Firing the weapon and mussel awareness under stress are two separate issues.

I have nothing against firearms, I own several. Scared minimally trained people with them scare me. I've been shot at, and I have shot back many times (Hospital Corpsman USN, 2nd Marine Division) Vietnam. The fear and adrenaline is overwhelming, especially the first few times. I am a big fan of the pepper spray, that way hopefully nothing ends up dead, not you, the animal, or someone with you.

I also agree with this 100%. Anyone who is using a CCP to carry in the park for the purpose of defense against black bears is a moron. I do have a CCP.

ifish4wildtrout
02-03-2011, 06:32 PM
I have a question, or a concern, actually.

Although any aggressive bear encounter concerns me, my biggest concern has always been a bear "attacking" my tent with me in it.

Let me say the reason this concerns me is that I had a curious bear once sniffing and prowling outside my tent. It scared me, I yelled and clapped my hands and he went away. I remember this very well every night I have spent in the backcountry since then.

Also, I know grizzlies are different, but the hiker that was killed in his tent out west this past summer is a reminder. Also, there was brief mention here of a bear/tent/gun shot at Hazel a few months back.

I know to change clothes before going to bed, no food, tobacco, toiletries, etc. inside the tent.

This would be a bad situation. Out in the open, you can back away, spray bear spray, stand tall, wave your arms, etc. Trapped in a tent with a bear coming in would present a problem. Also, the possibilty of being tangled in a sleeping bag is real. I always keep a knife and trekking pole by my side when sleeping. I figure if it happens, try my best to poke at his nose or whatever I can with a knife or trekking pole would be my best bet.

Any advice for this type of situation? Just curious.

GrouseMan77
02-03-2011, 06:59 PM
I know to change clothes before going to bed, no food, tobacco, toiletries, etc. inside the tent.

Sounds to me like you covered what you need to do to avoid having an encounter.

This would be a bad situation. Out in the open, you can back away, spray bear spray, stand tall, wave your arms, etc. Trapped in a tent with a bear coming in would present a problem. Also, the possibilty of being tangled in a sleeping bag is real. I always keep a knife and trekking pole by my side when sleeping. I figure if it happens, try my best to poke at his nose or whatever I can with a knife or trekking pole would be my best bet.

Any advice for this type of situation? Just curious.

I sleep with my knife and headlamp handy. If there isn't anything on / in your tent your probably good. In an area like Hazel Creek there are too many people not abiding by the rules. I'm sure food scraps get tossed all the time. If a bear gets used to that then he/she is a problem out of your control. I would go with the bear spray.

jeffnles1
02-03-2011, 07:26 PM
I also agree with this 100%. Anyone who is using a CCP to carry in the park for the purpose of defense against black bears is a moron. I do have a CCP.

I, too, have a CDW permit, am well trained and NRA Master ranked shooter. A concealment appropriate handgun would be an absolute last resort act of desperation against a bear. Yes, a 9MM, .357, .40, .45acp type firearm may indeed kill the bear, but it's not going to have the kind of stopping / knock down power necessary to immobilize him before he finishes whatever it was he planned to do to you.

It's marginally better than a rock or stick but don't think you're going to shoot a bear with a pistol caliber round and he's going to drop in his tracks. It just does not work that way.

Unlike the movies, a .357 isn't going to send it cartwheeling head over heals through a window and out on the street. They just don't have that kind of power.

I do carry a .357 (S&W J frame) and since it's been made legal, have carried in the park, but I would feel a LOT safer with pepper spray in the event of a bear encounter (or wild hog for that matter).

Please, please, please do not rely on a concealed carry appropriate handgun to stop a bear. You'd most likely be just as good shooting the round into the ground and hoping the loud noise scared it away as trying to shoot the bear with it.

Just my .02 worth.

Jeff

Kytroutbum
02-03-2011, 08:10 PM
Jeffnles1 said it all.

501
02-03-2011, 10:06 PM
I al so have a CCP and have been extensively trained in the use of handguns(law enforcement). Although I am a second amendment advocate what bothers me most is the number of people (with CCP) who have either none or only rudimentary training in handgun use. It should be understand that
carrying a handgun generally implies at least some intention to use it(as justified by the standards of the carrier). Therein is the rub. Carrying is a very extreme and grave responsbility. It requires very good judgement on when and where. Make a mistake and you may pay for it the rest of your life. I urge anyone who carries to receive good instruction, practice frequently and make themselves aware of the legal and moral issues involved. Although a pistol will kill a bear, I question whether many carriers have the ability in a close combat style situation to resolve it in their favor. Not to sure about bear spray as I have seen how humans react but it does seem to come highly recommended as a non-lethal deterrent. And of course if its not a close situation..........

whitefeather
02-04-2011, 12:12 AM
In agreement with several of you that have posted on the use of a handgun for bear protection, I just wanted to add this one point for anyone not already cognizant of the fact.

Though it is legal to carry in the park with a CCP (depending on the state your in within the park), you can not legally carry your weapon into any park building that contains federal employees (part time, volunteer, full time) such as a camping checkin office, and probably a visitors center either, although I do not know the latter for a fact.

Just read the sign on the door at the Luftee checkin station and it was clear. No guns allowed inside the office doors (federal building)!

Maybe someone else carry verify about visitors centers.

Whitefeather
_________________________________________________
Blue skies, warm gentle winds, and trout filled waters to all!:smile:

Crockett
02-04-2011, 10:30 AM
I have a CCP also but have yet to carry in the Smokies. The reason I have it is so I can keep a loaded pistol in my glove box and not become a felon for doing so. Normally if I am going on a long hike, backpack, or fishing trip where I will be away from my truck for awhile I will just leave it at home to keep it from getting stolen. Sometimes I carry bear spray and sometimes I do not. I have been carrying it more often though than in the past. In a tent I think it would be useless especially if the bear is pawing or biting at you through the tent wall. You would have to extricate yourself from the tent before deploying it and that may very well not be possible in such a situation. A knife may be the best option in a tent or gun if you can fire a round at the ground to (possibly) scare the bear off. Normally I have a knife in my tent. If it happened to me there would be lots of yelling and all before I started stabbing through the tent. I would stab through the tent if the yelling wasn't working and the bear was biting/injuring me. Don't know if I could do it till it was time but hope I would be able to at the very least injure him pretty good before I was killed and eaten. Would make it easier for the rangers to track him down and make sure it doesn't happen to someone else.

Has anyone read the account of the fisherman who was murdered up on Walker Camp prong and eaten by 5 different bears in Dwight McCarter's book "Lost"? Wow I still think about that story. The bears tore the guy in half and some of the bears dragged the lower half of his torso a quarter mile up a ridge. The bears had numerous fights over the torso for a couple of days till they had finished everything off.

Mundele
02-06-2011, 10:16 PM
Adam, I thought your bear tactic was to slip an unwrapped honeybun into your buddies pack, under his tent, etc. A lot lighter and tastier than bear spray...

Crockett
02-06-2011, 10:24 PM
Matt that is one of my tactics but so far doesn't seem to be working you are still posting... May switch to peanut butter

old east tn boy
02-07-2011, 10:25 PM
Read this thread with interest. Had a situation to happen years ago in Cades Cove picnic area that still scares the daylights out of me.

Most are in agreement a handgun shouldn't be a first choice defense against bears in the park BUT this only applies to personal defense, in my opinion. My family, mom and dad, in-laws, brothers, etc., used to meet at the picnic area in Cades Cove for the 4th of July back when my kids were young. One of the kid's favorite things was to roast marshmellows over the campfire. Well just as we were preparing to do this one evening we had an unexpected visitor. He was bigger than a yearling but not an adult and he was alone. He came from across the creek and headed straight for the table of food. No adult saw him until the kids started yelling that the bear had the marshmellows. Before anyone could react my oldest son, then about 4 years old, took off after the bear. To this day I still cannot see how all of us adults had managed to be so far from him at that time but we were. The bear pulled up at the base of a tree not far from the picnic table to sample his prize. He didn't see Danny coming. I think that Danny realized at the very last minute running up to the bear and grabbing that bag of marshmellows from it might not be the best thing to do. At any rate he stopped within easy reach for the bear and stood glaring at it. The bear dropped the bag and charged him.

Folks, you can say all you want about the effectiveness of a handgun on a bear, how pepper spray might save lives, your's, bear's other's. You can say how a bear charge is a bluff most of the time. You can lament little or no training in the use of a handgun in a life threatening situation, how the shooter poses more danger than the threat. It doesn't matter. If I had had a gun I would have emptied it at that bear.

The charge was a bluff. He ran back, grabbed the bag and ran off. But what if it hadn't been? My son could have been dead before anyone got to him.

Yeah, a 45 goes with me to the park now.

501
02-07-2011, 11:00 PM
Old east Tn boy,
This past summer I returned to our camp site at Elkmont from an early morning fishing trip to find a fresh pile of bear scat beside our campfire. My daughter was still asleep in my camper. Regarding your incident as described, Yeah, me too!

Lee

caught 108
02-07-2011, 11:23 PM
old east tn boy & 501,I also have 2 young boys who fish with me more times than not.I feel much better knowing my 40. stands between us and being bear food.

Kytroutbum
02-08-2011, 12:54 AM
Old east tn boy's "The charge was a bluff." My question, would it have remained - a bluff- if the bear was wounded?
I am not some PETA bear lover, actually, I am a proponent of a Grizzly hunting season around Yellowstone. I am not concerned with whether a bear is killed or not. In a Bear vs. Human encounter, I'm on the side of the Human. If shooting a bear with one of my firearms were the most effective method, I would. Also, I am extremely aware of what the cause of death "by massive loss of soft tissue" means. It occurred only 8 miles down the road from my campground. Death by bear attack is not usually instanteous.

With spray, you do not need the accuracy or load required to "kill" not wound the bear AND IT WORKS. My strong advocacy for carrying bear Spray comes from about 20 years of experience in the Shoshone natioanl Forest where more than 1/2 of the Greater Yellowstone's Grizzlies really are and conversations with the forest professionals, who daily work in their territory. I had two grand children staying with us in a "soft sided" pop-up for two weeks with Grizzly being seen weekly within 2 miles of camp. If they were in a threatening situation, I definitely would reach for spray first!

Having had a highly experienced Wyoming Game Warden- armed at the time of his attack- describe to me spraying, at 10 yards, an attacking sow grizzly, then it running away from his spray (even though he and his dog still presented a danger to her cubs) has sold it to me!!

If it works on Grizzly, it definitely will on Black Bear.

jeffnles1
02-08-2011, 02:10 AM
Read this thread with interest. Had a situation to happen years ago in Cades Cove picnic area that still scares the daylights out of me.

Most are in agreement a handgun shouldn't be a first choice defense against bears in the park BUT this only applies to personal defense, in my opinion. My family, mom and dad, in-laws, brothers, etc., used to meet at the picnic area in Cades Cove for the 4th of July back when my kids were young. One of the kid's favorite things was to roast marshmellows over the campfire. Well just as we were preparing to do this one evening we had an unexpected visitor. He was bigger than a yearling but not an adult and he was alone. He came from across the creek and headed straight for the table of food. No adult saw him until the kids started yelling that the bear had the marshmellows. Before anyone could react my oldest son, then about 4 years old, took off after the bear. To this day I still cannot see how all of us adults had managed to be so far from him at that time but we were. The bear pulled up at the base of a tree not far from the picnic table to sample his prize. He didn't see Danny coming. I think that Danny realized at the very last minute running up to the bear and grabbing that bag of marshmellows from it might not be the best thing to do. At any rate he stopped within easy reach for the bear and stood glaring at it. The bear dropped the bag and charged him.

Folks, you can say all you want about the effectiveness of a handgun on a bear, how pepper spray might save lives, your's, bear's other's. You can say how a bear charge is a bluff most of the time. You can lament little or no training in the use of a handgun in a life threatening situation, how the shooter poses more danger than the threat. It doesn't matter. If I had had a gun I would have emptied it at that bear.

The charge was a bluff. He ran back, grabbed the bag and ran off. But what if it hadn't been? My son could have been dead before anyone got to him.

Yeah, a 45 goes with me to the park now.

Yes, if all I had was one of my .45's or my .357, I, too, would empty the thing on the bear and do my level best for center mass shots.

However, I doubt if bear spray or a handgun (or shotgun for that matter) would have stopped that bear before he did serious harm to your son if it were a full blown attack charge.

I've hit deer center mass full penetration (in one side out the other) through the heart/lungs with a 30-06 and had them run 60-70 yards before dropping over dead.

I can say with absolute confidence that a 180gr bullet at 50 yards from a 30-06 has significantly more knockdown power than a handgun any of us would be carrying as a concealed carry weapon. One could easily stick 3 fingers in the exit wound. This has happened more than once. In fact, them dropping dead where they stand is not the norm unless you hit them in the head or in the spine. They will usually run some distance.

An angry bear is a lot tougher to stop than a deer.

A clip full of 230gr 45acp or a cyl full of 158gr .357mag will most likely kill a bear, no doubt. However, it's not going to drop it over dead where it stands unless you were lucky enough to penetrate the skull or sever the spine.

You better believe that if a bear (or a person) were attacking my son and his life were in danger, I'd be pulling the trigger until the weapon went click instead of bang. However, with a bear attack, I'm afraid it would be too little too late.

I'm by no means a PETA type (unless PETA is People Eating Tasty Animals). I would have zero remorse killing a bear (or any animal) that was threatening me or my family. In fact, I may reload and shoot it again just to be sure.

All I am saying is that a handgun calibre wouldn't be my first choice for bear protection if I had a choice. In a situation where it was legal, I would choose something more efective like a 12ga pump 00 buck, 12ga slug, large calibre repeating rifle (45-70, 444, etc.) or something like a 30-06, 7MM, etc. I've always subscribed to the thought if you're going to put a hole in something, make it a big hole.

I'm not 100% sure any of these weapons would drop a charging bear in its tracks, but they would come a lot closer than a 45acp or a 40 S&W.

Bottom line, I believe if one is caught off guard by a charging bear and survives the encounter, it just wasn't your day to die or the bear wasn't really serious about killing you.

I am very glad the encounter between your son and the bear ended with nothing more serious than you and him being very scared. It could have been much worse.

Jeff

old east tn boy
02-08-2011, 08:31 AM
My points about choice of defensive weapons against bears from a personal perspective are;

1. pepper spray is for close encounters, the situation I was in was not close

2. any practical carry handgun caliber is too small I agree but who knows, maybe I could have been lucky and gotten a head shot

3. anything would have been better than nothing, which is what I had

I will never, ever allow that too happen to me again as long as I have the ability to legally carry in the park. Perhaps I should carry pepper spray too?

whitefeather
02-08-2011, 03:09 PM
Gentlemen,

I earlier advocated for the use of bear spray in posts on this forum, because in a surprise attack situation or sudden close encounter, it, as I have told by experts on bear protection, is most effective.

However, on my last trip to the park I was either carrying my .45 1911, with very powerful custom loads, or my Browning Hi-power with +P loads. Bears were near the top of the list, but criminals were at the top. Carrying a heavy handgun when fly fishing was an added burden that I didn't at all enjoy.

I saw a presentation on NG channel some months ago where the resident Yellowstone grizzly bear guy demonstated some of the anti-bear tactics. He also has a full grown, trained grizzly he got when a small cub, whose mother had been killed. Perhaps some of you also saw this. I don't recall his name.

He and a friend of his "staged" a grizzly attack on a car using the trained grizzly pet. It may still be on U-tube. The bear weighed about 700 or 800 pounds.

The bear "opened up" the locked, closed car, going after some food that had been placed in it, like it was a cereal box. Doors torn off, hood torn off, windshield smashed and ripped out, seats shredded and there frames pulled out of the floor of the vehicle, etc. They also staged a "home entry" using the same bear on his house. The bear broke into the house much the same way as the car and completely wrecked the kitchen, doors, cabinets, refrigerator (which had its door torn off).

I am sure a 600 lb black bear could do similar damage if they wanted to. What scared me is that an RV or tent camper wouldn't fare any better than a car, if the bear was really aggressive or after its favorite "park" food.

So I had my .45 and 9mm locked and loaded at all times in my travel trailer, and would have blasted any bear that would have attempted any entry.

Not every situation is the same and planning is just that, planning, not real life experience.

I'm very happy to hear the father and son escaped injury, in part by the bears "bluff". But who knows when a bear is bluffing or not?

Black bears are omnivores, eating 85% of their diet from vegetation and insects. It would seem that a gradual inclination towards becoming carnivores is taking place. Black bears who have become carnivores, with no fear of humans, have no place in the picture at the park in my opinion. They should be "re-oriented" to fear humans and stay away or re-assigned to an eternal "dirt nap."

But on the bears behalf, I would say that anyone caught feeding a bear or encouraging a bear to pander in any way should spend about 30 days in iron bar motel without any questions asked.

I have actually witnessed children propping open dumpster lids at night to encourage bears to come into campgrounds. I went around and closed them and told the kids that if they did it again I would see that they went to jail along with their parents, and invited them to "please, go tell your mommies and daddies what I just did and said!" I didn't get any takers.

Whitefeather
__________________________________________________
Blue skies, warm gentle winds, and trout filled waters to all!:smile:

ifish4wildtrout
02-08-2011, 06:50 PM
whitefeather

Just wondering what kind of holster you were carrying the 1911 in. That would be my preferred carry, but you are right, they are heavy and not a good concealed carry gun. I rarely ever carry my 1911, usually carry my compact .40, small and light weight.

I have never carried in the park, but really think I will start. With that said, it has got to be a pain in the neck to carry on the stream. IWB is best for concealed, but I prefer an OWB with a thumb break for added security, in case I take a fall or tumble.

Around camp, no problem, just the fishing and boulder hopping that I worry about. Carrying is a huge responsibility, as we all know, and I take that very seriously.

whitefeather
02-08-2011, 07:59 PM
ifish4wildtrout,

I use an old 'rough and tumble" Uncles Mike's Sidekick, nylon, ambidextrous, left/right, with velcro two piece strap and thumb break. It fits a variety of my automatics from .380 to .45 and keeps the weapon close to the body for concealed carry and high on the belt. Very secure, no bounce or flop, and after years of experience with it I am confident the gun is going to stay put when I'm jumping around on boulders and such.

My load for my 1911, which I worked up years ago when I was a licensed ammunitions manufacturer, is a 200 grn, Speer JHP, chronotached at 1210 fps, using Hercules Red Dot shotgun powder. Kinda tricky loading them too! The flame alone shoots out about 4 feet and would probably scorched the bear's sniffer pretty good, even if I missed! LOL!:biggrin: Or start a forest fire if it was too dry!:frown:

I just got some 10 round extended Colt mags for it which I pop in for home defense, not concealed carry. Talk about heavy! But then it makes a good club too!

Whitefeather
__________________________________________________
Blue skies, warm gentle winds, and trout filled waters to all!:smile:

kytroutbummin
02-09-2011, 11:19 PM
I skipped a few pages in the middle of the post so I might be restating some things. I know the 1 guy said the ranger said no bear spray. A few years ago i noticed that up near the backcountry campsites on little river there has been more and more bear sign everytime we hike up there. So, after beeing nervous on a few trips i looked into bear protection. Not sure if the rules for bear spray are the same as a firearm, but to carry a firearm in a national park you have to have a concealed carry permit. If you have the permit you can carry a firearm in any national park in a state that allows you to carry anyway. There are only some states that have a concealed deadly weapons permit as opposed to a concealed carry firearms permit (kentucky being one of them) and I would think that this permit would allow you to carry bear spray. The class isn,t hard, although it is really boring. If you ever plan on heading to utah or any other mountain lion having state, I highly reccommend taking the class.
Just my 2 cents,
Chris Fihser

Kytroutbum
02-10-2011, 12:46 AM
Kytroutbummin- I've copied several of the entries below from somewhere in the middle of ?? AH-discussion.

FEARNOFISHBOB- Check out the 2nd page of this thread, I have three times posted quotes, (a clarification-at various times on this board) I have recieved to my question about the Bear Spray from GSMNP Headquarters that Bear Spray is allowed/Legal in the park. Immediately after mine, Ifish4wildtrout's reply has a quote from an official GSMNP brochure referring to the use of bear spray. Spotlight's citation is from a Blog and a not official gov't site. The "Ranger" may/or may not have been a "seasonal" not really sure of the status of bear spray. I haven't heard of bear spray being carried until after the death of the lady above Elkmont , when I started to carry it.

Randall Sale
the Kytroutbum


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#59 01-30-2011, 12:06 AM
sammcdonald
Senior Member Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: The Glades
Posts: 571




--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

we now sell bear spray in the park stores....everything we sell has to be approved by the park...ergo, it's currently legal

Kytroutbum
02-10-2011, 01:21 AM
I believe its time to VENTILATE the fly tying areas. Either most of us have a severe case of the "Shack Nasties", been sniffing the tolene in our homemade tying cement or both. I think I am suffering from both. I'll leave ya'll to organize a massive hunt with bear spray, pistols or loud motorcycles to free the park of the otters, bears and/ or criminal types.(:>)

It's time to migrate south to test my bear spray on such evil vermin as Alligators, Cottonmouths, and the most dangerous, the Elderly SnowBird Driver, while sampling Pine Island Sound and the Everglades National Park for Reds and Snook.

the Ky(Redfish)bum

2weightfavorite
02-10-2011, 07:40 AM
Ill take my chances with the bears as opposed to a snow bird ederly driver!!! The bears aren't as dangerous!

Knothead
02-10-2011, 12:01 PM
If you have a carry permit, by all means, carry. Not for bears but for the low-rent characters we have running loose.
I lived in KY for about 8 years, 1974-1982. I bought a Ruger .44 magnum and asked the chief sheriff's deputy about carrying it in the car. This was in about 1980. He said as long at it was in the car, in plain sight, no problem. However.......if you covered it, accidently or on pupose, with something like a newspaper or jacket, then it was concealed and subject to the proper laws. So, I carried it out in the open. Never could figure why anyone would want to conceal a firearm. Plain sight would be a great crime deterent. However, our local mall has signt prohibiting carrying of firearms. I can carry a machete, but no firearm. Go figure.

2weightfavorite
02-10-2011, 12:23 PM
not in tn my friend. A hand gun in a car can mean jail time. able to see it or not. you better be on your way to a range to shoot it or coming home from the range if you do not have you permit and have a hand gun in your car. and the ammo is supposed to be seperated from the gun. So if the gun is in the car the ammo is in the trunk. Pay thee money, get the permit, be legal. its not worth risking getting caught without a permit.

Knothead
02-11-2011, 11:47 AM
2wf, aware of that. VAn doesn't have a trunk so firearms are in cases and ammo is in a case. Not "readily accessible."

JoelO
02-11-2011, 01:48 PM
Speaking of bears...a friend sent me this.

The guy taking this video has got to be one cool customer, either that or he had the video camera in one hand and was holding a Smith and Wesson 500 magnum in the other hand.

The joys of deer hunting from a tree stand. If confronted by a bear, just be cool and ask the bear a question.

funny, in an after the encounter I'm ok sort of way.

http://www.wimp.com/curiousbear/ (http://www.wimp.com/curiousbear/)

whitefeather
02-11-2011, 02:32 PM
The guy did the right thing in talking to the bear in a non-confrontational way. He remained calm, as they say you should do.

The bear had been sniffing the human scent on the trail all the way up to the tree and finally looked up to see the "object of the scent." My guess was that the bear was truly wild and had never encountered a human before and was just curious as to what he was smelling.

I sure wouldn't have waited until he got half way up the ladder though.

Streamhound
02-11-2011, 03:38 PM
whew, he was one calm customer

guerillafish
02-11-2011, 03:44 PM
That was really cool. It's good to see folks out there that remain calm and keep a cool head during a tense moment.

TB

501
02-11-2011, 09:28 PM
Actually, viewing it after the fact (and not being there in person) the video is kind of amusing and a very memorable incident. Not sure if the bear was following man scent down the approach (stalking?) to the stand as no reference is made to the hunters route in. Bear may have had some man contact before (not shot at) as he appears familiar with man made objects and is obviously curious. Still (assuming it wasn't bear season) I applaude the hunter for his calm actions. Great video!

Lee

whitefeather
02-11-2011, 09:55 PM
501,

Now that you mention it, the bear did seem familar with and know how to climb the ladder didn't it, not that it would be difficult for the bear to figure out.

Probably all staged, knowing some of the stuff that shows up on U-tube! LOL!

How many hunters take a video camera with them while hunting? If you were hunting, I would think you'd want to get rid of that bear ASAP as in throwing something at it or shooting off a round, etc.

You wouldn't want the bear hanging around in the area as competition if you were after whitetail and had a good chance of getting one.

Crockett
02-11-2011, 10:31 PM
You can pretty much tell by how the bear was acting that it wasn't staged. The bear didn't just run up there on command but took his time and was hesitant at different points. Bears seem to climb those deer stands a lot and confront hunters more than when they are on the ground for some reason. Search on youtube and you can find tons of similar videos of bears climbing up to a tree stand. I saw one where the hunter waited till the bear got up in the tree a few feet away then he blasted kenny loggins music at it. Said it was the 3rd time that had happened that season so he was prepared. He was laughing about it too. I don't think the bears expect a person to be up in a tree and that throws them off somehow whereas if they see the person on the ground they recognize that as a human pretty quickly usually and don't approach.

whitefeather
02-11-2011, 10:59 PM
"The bear didn't just run up there on command but took his time and was hesitant at different points."

Adam,

The bear scented the guy from the beginning, stopping numerous times to smell the trail, the bush, and up the scent path path to the guy's ladder. Then it scented each step as it climbed up.

My point was, how many hunters take a video camera with them while hunting? Maybe some do and maybe this fellow had this happen to him before and was prepared for it.

I've had squirrels walk on me when I've been up in my tree stand. One time I had an owl land on my leg.

JoelO
02-12-2011, 03:55 PM
I was just amazed how calm he was. There was no camera shake as the bear was climbing the ladder.

By the way, I haven't seen alot of bears in person to judge size, but that looked like a pretty big 'un.

whitefeather
02-12-2011, 04:22 PM
"I was just amazed how calm he was. There was no camera shake as the bear was climbing the ladder."

JoelO,

Yeh! How about that no camera shake thing! It all looked too "cinemaphotographic" to me. There was also no erratic camera movement when he was panning the bear. Just very steady movement. News cameras have the software like the motion picture cameras that null out any unwanted movement, like "bounce" in chase action scenes.

I think everyone assumed (including myself) it was a hunter filming the bear but I bet the guy was a pro and was there for that express purpose with some pretty "high end" equipment up in that tree with him. This is what I meant when I posted earlier that I thought it was "staged."

501
02-12-2011, 10:41 PM
Camara may have been mounted on a rifle or bow. This could account for the steady image/lack of shaking. Similar films are made frequently in Canada around bait. Still it was an interesting film and a never to be forgotten experience!

Lee