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Joined: 10/16/2007
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Fact or Fiction?

I will start this thread off with a couple of examples, but feel free to add your own ideas of what is fact or fiction regarding black bears.

Is human scent a deterrent or an attractant? Safe camping articles view human excrement as an attractant. Hunting articles generally favor concealing the human scent.

Black Bears try to avoid human contact? In relation to spot and stalk deer hunting is a bear more likely to flee like a deer, take cover, if it spots you in the woods stalking or is it more likely to see what you are? As soon as a coyote sees you move it is gone faster than you can blink. Does a bear vacate as fast? A deer will typically run 300-400 yards away before resuming normal browsing activity. How far will a bear attempt to plod out of range?

I know that a bear has a large home area, but does it continually move from area to area or does it follow the food and stay in a given area until that food source is gone? Grazer or browser?

Appreciate any opinions you may have.

Thanks

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Joined: 07/31/2007
Posts: 635
Fact or Fiction?

Sounds like you're gathering info for an article. Some really good points about the camper/hunter protocols that I really never thought about before. I can put in my two cents about the last part. If a steady food source is available (esp. in fall) a bear will remain in the area until it is gone, an insufficient source, or an apparent safety hazard. Then again, it could depend on the demeanor of the bear. I think you need to look at the fact that 'in the fall', a bear needs to put on weight. It understands that it won't do that moving around wide ranges to feast on a just bits of a buffet from spot to spot. The less energy spent foraging, the better the chances of quick fat cell accumulation.

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Fact or Fiction?

Now my turn. I'm challenging the eyesight of a bear. I know they have great eyesight, but do they actually see in color?

I'm asking this because of a run in I had two years ago during deer season. I was sitting on a knoll at the edge of a swamp, and a friend of mine was pushing through it. I saw a black object silently bounding toward me from the swamp. It kept stopping, then looking behind itself, then running again. This was repeated every ten to fifteen yards. To my amazement the bear stopped dead in it's tracks 12 feet to my right. It must have known something was wrong, because it stayed longer looking around and tasting the wind. The bear never gave an indication that it knew I was there. Never stared at me, didn't walk in my direction, didn't make a sound. Nothing. After what seemed an eternity (about 15 seconds), it bound off again this time none stop over a hill, and out of sight. Now I was in plain view. I was 12 feet away. I was wearing a solid orange jacket.

What do you make of that???? Think

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Joined: 10/16/2007
Posts: 62
Fact or Fiction?

JF,

Thanks for the observations. I am not writing an article, at least not today.
I have just noticed inconsistencies between safe hiking/camping practices and hunting practices.

Eye sight is another good fact or fiction discussion. I lean towards the "at least as good as ours theory." When wearing blaze orange a person wouldnt need to make direct eye contact to see the object standing there. Our peripheral vision could pick the object up. Not saying this is what happened though.

Science knows that a deer doesnt see colors green and red. I do not know why science cannot make the same determination for bears. Whether a bear is nearsighted seems to be a harder questions to prove.
Also while one bear may by chance occurrence be blind or have poor eyesight, wouldnt be enough to say all bears have poor eyesight. Following the good as ours theory I would not be surprised if a bear's eyesight doesnt degenerate with age. Lasiks for bears, what a concept.

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Location: OlyWa
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Fact or Fiction?
Quote:
I have just noticed inconsistencies between safe hiking/camping practices and hunting practices.

Just like the differences between hunters and non-hunters. lol

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Fact or Fiction?

Here is a good one. I've heard if you drink coffee and piss around your campsite, that the bears will stay away. Something about the particular acidic smell the coffee adds to the urine that the bears don't like. Now I havn't tried this, but I sure would like to put it to the test. Maybe mythbusters. Laugh

Chuck-n-Alaska's picture
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Location: Southcentral Alaska
Joined: 04/26/2007
Posts: 222
Fact or Fiction?
jfrench wrote:
Here is a good one. I've heard if you drink coffee and piss around your campsite, that the bears will stay away. Something about the particular acidic smell the coffee adds to the urine that the bears don't like. Now I havn't tried this, but I sure would like to put it to the test. Maybe mythbusters. Laugh

I can tell you from experience that is not true.

Quote:
Now my turn. I'm challenging the eyesight of a bear. I know they have great eyesight, but do they actually see in color?

This is just my thoughts I think bears see about equal to humans but don't see as well 3 dimensional to them things look flat. They will pick up movement extremely well though.

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Location: OlyWa
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Fact or Fiction?
Quote:
Here is a good one. I've heard if you drink coffee and piss around your campsite, that the bears will stay away.

Yep, I know that one is false as well.

Quote:
They will pick up movement extremely well though.

Also very true.

Don Fischer's picture
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Location: Antelope, Ore
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Fact or Fiction?

Boy there are so many myths floating around. many are taken for gospel, thats why we end up with camo everything and scent blockers. We don't like shiny barrel guns either. Did your ever wonder what scent blocker smells like to a bear? And how does it know that the shiny barrel is not a wet stick with no bark on it? To listen to the stories about animals, they know more about guns than we do! If you saw a shiny object on the ground, laying over a rock or leaning against a tree would you recognize it for what it is, or wonder what it is? A human see's it and say's "what the hell is that"? An animal see's it and say's "mod 700 Rem #2 contur Hart barrel with a 3-9x Leupold in control mount;s". A really dumb animal say's "it's a gun, run"! Yea, right! What probably happens is the animal see's something out of place in it's living room, maybe!

It has always occured to me that animals live in a different world than we do. There are preditors and prey. If your hunting prey and act like a preditor looking for a meal, the prey leaves. yet same time of year and your out for a walk where ever, and you see the biggest deer of your life 40 feet away, why? Deer don't run away from cows either nor do they bolt for no reason.

Now a bear eats a lot more vegatable matter than flesh. Except when feeding on carrion on fish. I don't know thats it's a preditor but it's certainly not prey either. One thing a bear does seem to be most of the year is a loner, and a freeloader! Why on earth would a bear come to a bait pile of donuts otherwise? They are not normally found in the wild except at a bait pile! I don't believe that bears run from us in fear, rather they run from an unknown. Myself, I am pretty much a loaner and I avoid large group's of people, 5 can be to many. Maybe a bear is that way.

I have no idea how anyone could prove how good their eye sight really is or even how it works but like people I bet they key on movement. And in their world, movement means something. Ever notice how wild animals get more spooky with wind? Makes to many things move and covers up sounds I would think. It probably also plays hell with scent! My dog's have a much harder time with birds when the wind comes up. I have heard that animals are color blind. Maybe so or maybe the thing that doesn't bother them is that the guy hiding in his camo doesn't move? If they are color blind, take a look at a b/w photo and you'll see about what they might see, as we understand sight any way.

I think wild animals simply react to things in their enviorment. Then if they see bad things happen enough, they flee at first sight or sound. The coyote that's been called in and/or shot at gets real cagy, we teach him that. The bear that frequents the dump always scares off the dumper. He is taught that these puny things will leave the dump when he shows up. Same bear runs from you in the woods. Same bear that runs from you in the woods learns that people can mean a free meal. Next thing you know their begging on the side of the road. They lost their fear? Maybe, then again maybe they just are looking for a hand out and have been taught that nice man has one for him!

All the myths in the wild can probably be explained away by wild animals reacting to their place on the food chain, changes in their enviorment, learned dangers, fear and the desire to eat. For me, everything else is pure speculation.

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Location: OlyWa
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Fact or Fiction?
Quote:
Now a bear eats a lot more vegatable matter than flesh. Except when feeding on carrion on fish. I don't know thats it's a preditor but it's certainly not prey either.

Yes, they are omnivores, but they are most definately a predator. After calling bears for more than a dozen years I have come to realise that they do quite the number on fawns and elk calves. Watching a bear work towards a calf or fawn in distress call is an amazing site.

Chuck-n-Alaska's picture
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Location: Southcentral Alaska
Joined: 04/26/2007
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Fact or Fiction?

Black bears are listed as a predator in Alaska. They are proven predators of moose calves they are also on expanded predator control in several management units where they have destroyed the moose population.

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