September 22, 2018

The Bear Spray That Didn’t Work

It was November 15, 2007, when I wrote an article on my former blog titled, “Bear Spray Versus Bullets.” This article came at a time when government authorities and members of so-called conservation groups (environmentalists) were claiming that bear spray was a better deterrent to saving your life than a gun when being attacked by a bear – specifically a grizzly bear. This difference of opinion has never really been resolved and probably won’t be.

I recall that it was only a couple days after I published that article I got a phone call from one of those “authorities” who was pushing the bear spray for protection meme. I assumed, and still do, this person had a financial stake in bear spray among other personal agenda reasons.

Regardless, I agreed to give him my mailing address and he promptly sent me a garbage pail full of propaganda that upon reading no more convinced me that spray was better than bullets than playing in the middle of Interstate 81 in Pennsylvania would be.

Most have heard by now that an experienced guide and an elk hunter were attacked by two grizzly bears in Wyoming. Both men were heading back into the woods to retrieve an elk the hunter had downed. The guide, Mark Uptain, was killed in the attack. The hunter was injured but not with life-threatening injuries. Exactly what happened at the scene remains to be known.

As is typical, reports as to what happened began making their rounds and what is also typical many of those reports turned out to be false. However, according to a report published in Ammoland, one thing is certain: “Mark Uptain appears to have relied on a can of bear spray to deter the attack. A can of bear spray, with the safety off, was found at the site. The adult sow grizzly had bear spray on her at the scene.”

So, the guide discharged his bear spray, and it got on the bear (although this report doesn’t say what part of the bear had spray on it, one would assume that bear spray placed anywhere except the face would be ineffective.)

Again, we come back to the burning question as to which is more effective in warding off a charging bear – spray or bullets. Maybe the real answer is contained in this same article: “The bear was shot and killed as she attacked investigating Fish and Wildlife personnel.”

It certainly looks like that while authorities were at the scene investigating this event, at least one of the two bears attacked Fish and Wildlife personnel. Why, as I pointed out in my 2007 article that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was heavily promoting spray over bullets, didn’t the FWS officials whip out their cans of bear spray and ward off that attacking bear? Did officials even have bear spray with them? Whether they intended to kill the two bears or not should have been of little concern. How did investigators know this particular bear was the bear that attacked and killed Mark Uptain?

Obviously, the agents doing the investigation believe bullets are better than spray.

Unfortunately, we now have evidence that in this one incident bear spray did not save one man’s life.

Perhaps it is time to revisit the irresponsible claims that spray is better than bullets. As I said in 2007, it depends upon many circumstances and each person has to decide for themselves how to protect themselves. Unfortunately, our own government is doing all that they can to force us to do it their way. Not necessarily the way they would and do it but how the government demands we do it.

The big question then should be this: If bear pepper spray is better for warding off an attacking bear, why did a government official(s) use a gun to do the job?

 

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WOHOOO! Maine IFW Enters Modern World of Tagging Game

Congratulations are definitely in order to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) for going above and beyond anything I thought ever possible. They have entered the technology era and devised a system of an instant electronic game registration.

Even though MDIFW seems to be mired in their bad habit of silence in what they do with not one word made available that they were even working on this project, I am delighted to read the news.

The headline reads that hunters, agents, and MDIFW will benefit from this new-age system. And to flex their muscles, a press release (below) tells readers ALREADY how many bears have been registered in the first two weeks of the bear season.

In comparison, last year’s bear hunting season harvest had not been published on the website at the start of this year’s season.

And speaking of websites, it appears that MDIFW has rushed forward to remove the link on their website that takes users to the game harvest page, but I cannot see any link yet(?) to where I can get the harvest data that MDIFW is getting. Is that something that is going to be included in the hunter’s benefit of this new system? According to the press release, I have serious doubts that MDIFW will go that far. They may talk a big talk about working with “customers,” but seldom show it in the final run.

An examination of the Press Release may hold the answer that MDIFW does not intend to make this data readily available to the public on their website: “The new web based system is simpler and faster, and provides the department with real-time data concerning the harvest of animals. This allows the department to provide customers with information about deer or moose harvest numbers more quickly…” (emboldening added)

As lousy as MDIFW is in getting reports out to the public in any sense of responsibility, one has to wonder just how often they intend to notify the public as to harvest data. Hopefully, they can beat their average harvest reporting time schedule of about 6 months.

MDIFW is required by law to make this information available to the public. Can MDIFW skirt that requirement by occasionally publishing a few numbers? We will have to wait and see.

A real benefit for everyone would be that MDIFW creates a landing page on their website if for nothing else than to publish real-time registered game animals. That is not a difficult task to do.

It appears that my days of relentless bitching and moaning about MDIFW’s never publishing game harvest data are over. I sure hope this new system doesn’t give me other reasons to bitch and complain.

In the meantime, congratulations to Chandler Woodcock and MDIFW for finally undertaking this event and getting it operational at the start of the bear season. We will all look forward to its progress through the remainder of the bear season as well as moose and deer. We are also told next season this new system will be used for trapping season.

Wohooo!

Hunters, Agents, and MDIFW Benefit From New, Web-Based Registration System

AUGUSTA, Maine — A new, web based game registration system is up and running at tagging stations statewide, providing hunters, stations and the department with an efficient, easy to use system that benefits all.

“This new system will quickly allow tagging stations and hunters to register their animal, and also provide our biologists and game wardens with real-time harvest data,” said Chandler Woodcock, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

The new web-based system became operational the opening day of bear season, August 27, and has been providing instant data to department personnel about the progress of bear season.

Opening week of bear season, hunters registered 1,141 bears. Hunters have now registered a total of 2,826 bears for the season.

The system replaces the old game registration booklets, where agents used to fill in the data by hand. The books would be in possession of the agents until the end of the hunting seasons in December, and then shipped to Augusta where all data was entered by hand.

The new web based system is simpler and faster, and provides the department with real-time data concerning the harvest of animals. This allows the department to provide customers with information about deer or moose harvest numbers more quickly, as well as provide its biologists the information they need to make decisions on seasons and permit numbers in a much more timely manner.

The new system is a result of an intensive effort by the department’s Bureau of Resource Management, the Division of Licensing and Registration and the Bureau of the Warden Service collaborating with InforME to develop an online application that ensures reliable data while remaining easy to use for registration agents. MDIFW staff has been training the more than 300 stations on how to use the new system. For a complete list of tagging stations, please visit: https://www.maine.gov/ifw/hunting-trapping/tagging-stations.html.

“With any new system, there’s always a few bumps, but we’ve had staff available to assist with this transition to the new system as well as a help line for agents provided by InforME,” said Woodcock. “We are also looking for feedback from our customers on how to improve the system.

The electronic registration program is the latest step in automating more of the services that MDIFW provides, which includes online applications for deer and moose permits, online licensing, electronic lawbooks and the electronic game registration program. These are designed to be provide customers with the information and services they need via simple and efficient access from almost anywhere.

This new system will be in place for game registration, and beginning next year, will be available for fur tagging as well.

Currently Maine is in the midst of bear season, which continues through November 24, 2018. The first week of moose season begins September 24 and the archery season for deer begins September 29. Maine has 215,000 licensed hunters. To obtain a license online or to learn more about hunting in Maine, visit www.mefishwildlife.com.

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Experienced Guide Killed by Attacking Grizzly

And the “brain trust” that have never been attacked by a bear have all the answers.

An experienced guide, while leading a hunter in Wyoming to retrieve a dead elk shot earlier, was attacked by a grizzly and killed. The hunter ran for his life.

Details of what specifically happened are lacking at this point. Some information can be found here, here, and here. At the last link, you can read all the comments from the intelligencers who have all the right answers and who have probably never seen a grizzly bear let alone be attacked by one.

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552 Pound Black Bear Tagged in Allagash, Maine

I am told that this 552-pound black bear was tagged at Tyler Kelly’s Camps in Allagash, Maine.

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Bears: Looking Big and Making Noise Not Always a Working Solution

I’ve always ridiculed the advice given by people, mostly from those who have never encountered a threatening bear, that when you are encountering a bear, even an outright attack, “look big” and “make loud noises” to frighten a bear away.

Over the past weekend, I was part of a discussion that included a woman that I went to high school with. I had known for several years that she was once treed by a bear near her home while she was out for a walk. It seems that in the past 25 or 30 years, she and her husband have had several encounters with bears at and near their home.

The woman told us that the area around their home has historically been ideal habitat for bears and seeing the animals around their home is a common occurrence.

The day she was treed by a bear, it happened quickly, as one might suspect. She tried the “slowly backing away” approach which only afforded her time to reach a small tree a few feet away. The tree was small enough that she could shimmy up the tree just far enough out of the reach of the bear and also small enough that the bear could not climb it.

The bear persisted to a point where the woman was slipping and losing her grip but she hung on.

She didn’t realize at the time that the bear, once realizing it couldn’t get her from the tree, tried a different tactic – it retreated but only far enough to hide behind a tree. The woman emphasized that in many of her encounters with bears, this seems to be a common method of attack – to hide and wait in ambush.

When she got back down on the ground, she spotted the bear attempting to hide behind a big tree. She quietly snuck away and when she thought she was far enough away from the bear, she ran like hell for home.

What is most interesting is that in telling of the several other bear encounters, most of them right around the house, she was emphatic in saying that the advice to “look big” and “make a lot of noise” is quite ineffective. On multiple occasions, particularly once when a bear forced both the husband and wife into their garden shed, they did their best to “look big,” yelled and made as much noise as they could only to witness the bear basically ignoring their actions.

It is important to note that both of these people, who are not your typical “scaredy-cats” felt threatened by this and all other attacks. They find the advice always given worthless from their own experiences.

I would suppose the takeaway from all of this is that one probably should not completely abandon the advice given but to realize that it is ALWAYS under the circumstances of the moment that determine the actions and reactions of a bear. Perhaps it is for that reason, if someone is regularly hiking in bear country and/or seem to have regular bear visitors to their home, they should consider having at their disposal some other tool to deter a bear other than remembering to “look big” and “make noise.”

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Tennesseans Better “Look Big.” Bear Spotted First Time 100 Years

A bear was spotted in Davidson County for the first time in more than 100 years.

The bear was caught on a trail camera in Joelton, not far from Whites Creek Pike. <<<Read More>>>

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Restraining Order Issued to Stop Grizzly Bear Hunts

A very biased report on the actions of a judge in Montana who issued a temporary restraining order to stop a grizzly bear hunt:

“A federal judge in Montana on Thursday issued a court order temporarily blocking the first trophy hunts of Yellowstone-area grizzly bears in more than 40 years, siding with native American groups and environmentalists seeking to restore the animals’ protected status.

The 14-day restraining order by U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen in Missoula, Montana, came two days before Wyoming and Idaho were scheduled to open licensed grizzly hunts allowing as many as 23 bears in the two states to be shot and killed for sport.”<<<Read More>>>

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Emergency Rule In Effect Limiting Some Bear Trapping Methods in Maine

Press Release from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife:

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has adopted an emergency rule that limits some methods used to trap bear which may accidentally capture the federally threatened Canada Lynx in Maine. This emergency rule adopts measures that would prevent further lynx fatalities as outlined in the Department’s “2014 Final Incidental Take Plan for Maine’s Trapping Program.” This emergency rule is effective for 90 days and will cover the 2018 bear trapping season only.

This 90 day emergency rule has been adopted to address only how a trap is set for bear. More specifically, a foot snare designed to capture a bear when it reaches into the snare or a device to obtain bait or lure is prohibited. The Department will develop a permanent rule proposal to be put in place before the 2019 bear trapping season that will address the issue long term.

Read the Rule here.

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Disrupted Economics From a Spring Bear Hunt? I Have My Doubts

Bob Humphrey writes in his column that if Maine offered a Spring bear hunt – something suggested in order to find ways of reducing the bear population – it “…could have an effect on the fall hunt.” He further explains that “…fall bear hunting supports a substantial industry of guides, outfitters, lodges and ancillary service providers in more remote areas of the state. With deer numbers, and demand for deer hunting services at historical lows, guided bear hunts take on added importance to local economies.”

While it is important to understand the economics associated with all hunting, fishing, and recreational activities, we shouldn’t allow this to upend the scientific and public safety reasons that should be associated with bear management. I often lament over the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s (MDIFW) decision to allow social demands to drive their management decisions. Allowing the demands of guides and outfitters to direct management decisions is no different.

In addition, I’m not so sure that offering a Spring bear hunt would be so potentially devastating to the bear guiding and outfitter businesses as well as lodges and “ancillary service providers.” Are these businesses so inflexible and mired in the way they’ve always done things that adjustments can’t be made – perhaps even adjustments to pad the bank accounts a bit more?

It reminds me of people I know whose business was struggling. They voiced concern that they didn’t know what they were going to do to stay in business. When I asked questions about what things they had tried to improve business and offered some suggestions, their comment was, “we’ve never done that before.” End of discussion.

The end result in all of this is that MDIFW continues to express their wish to increase bear harvest in order to better stabilize the bear population. They boast of how long the season is and the different opportunities bear hunters have, while at the same time telling us the low success rate of taking a bear and how that rate fluctuates depending on demographics of the existing season, i.e. food availability, etc.

Perhaps an attempt at offering bonus tags or simply a two-bear bag limit that does not include taking one by trapping. It may sound generous to offer a two-bear limit, one by hunting and one by trapping, but bear trapping is, at least has been so far, a negligible part of the bear harvest with little hope of increased interest.

Is it more cost effective to increase the bag limit during the existing bear season or to have a second complete bear hunting season? Don’t bear hunters want to tag two bears? Time to hunt is limited for most. If during that time a hunter has the chance to take two bears…why not?

It just seems that although concerns are being expressed about how to further reduce and stabilize the bear population, little is being done to accomplish that – just cheap talk. Maybe it’s because there is so much focus on babysitting the guide and outfitting businesses responsible decisions aren’t being made that are in the best interest of bear management.

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Bear’s Menu for Fine Dining

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