Hiker mauled by grizzly on WY 13er

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Eli Boardman
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Hiker mauled by grizzly on WY 13er

Post by Eli Boardman »

Francs Peak is the easiest of the Wyoming 13ers, but the bears make it arguably the most dangerous peak on the whole list. Almost everyone who's hiked it reports multiple grizzly sightings at high elevations all around Francs. Wishing this hiker a quick and full recovery.

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Re: Hiker mauled by grizzly on WY 13er

Post by Bale »

That sucks! Eli, did you encounter any grizz when you climbed it? I know you did all the WY 13ers a coupla years ago. A buddy and I ran into two adult grizzlies on Cleveland in Glacier that were VERY close.
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Re: Hiker mauled by grizzly on WY 13er

Post by XterraRob »

Grizzly Bears need to be re-introduced into Colorado. It's the only way to save the mountains from the crowds.
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Re: Hiker mauled by grizzly on WY 13er

Post by The Android »

Hope he recovers. I also spend a decent amount of time in Grizzly or Grizzly-adjacent areas. Hope I never have to deal with a charge, they are so fast.

This video does a nice job showing how crucial it is to be prepared with spray, gun, or both. Despite being sponsored by a firearm company, the takeaway is that preparation with your preferred deterrent is crucial. For most, the spray is easier to learn, cheaper, and more effective but watching the simulated charge @19:13 shows just how difficult even the spray might be to deploy.

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Re: Hiker mauled by grizzly on WY 13er

Post by Eli Boardman »

Bale wrote: Fri Jul 01, 2022 1:09 pm That sucks! Eli, did you encounter any grizz when you climbed it? I know you did all the WY 13ers a coupla years ago. A buddy and I ran into two adult grizzlies on Cleveland in Glacier that were VERY close.
Yeah, we saw several. The closest was a hundred yards below the summit of Francs Peak on the opposite side of the ridge we climbed up.

One problem is that there are so many small ridges and rock outcrops that it's very possible (even likely) to come around a blind corner and be face-to-face with a bear. There have been many grizzly attacks in the Yellowstone-Dubois-Cody triangle over the past decade, including numerous fatalities, even when the parties involved had bear spray and firearms. (Here's one of the most severe and tragic examples.)
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Re: Hiker mauled by grizzly on WY 13er

Post by timisimaginary »

The Android wrote: Sat Jul 02, 2022 9:01 am Hope he recovers. I also spend a decent amount of time in Grizzly or Grizzly-adjacent areas. Hope I never have to deal with a charge, they are so fast.

This video does a nice job showing how crucial it is to be prepared with spray, gun, or both. Despite being sponsored by a firearm company, the takeaway is that preparation with your preferred deterrent is crucial. For most, the spray is easier to learn, cheaper, and more effective but watching the simulated charge @19:13 shows just how difficult even the spray might be to deploy.

even in that video, he has the spray accessible and is just waiting for the alert to deploy it, and it's still too late. a truly surprise encounter when you're not expecting it, there's no chance. spray is good if you see the bear with enough time and distance to unholster and aim it before the bear starts charging, but if the bear's already charging before you know it, it's too late.
i was surprised and charged by an unleashed dog a few weeks ago from about the same distance as that bear decoy. it was a real eye-opener. even if i had it in my hand ready to go, there was no spray or weapon that was going to work in time to stop it. spray or no spray, weapon or no weapon, the best defense is awareness of your surroundings and alerting any nearby wildlife to your presence before you can surprise them. people might look at me funny for running with a bear bell in bear habitat (and we only have black bears here) but i don't want to find out what happens when i come running around a bend straight into a bear on the trail.
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Re: Hiker mauled by grizzly on WY 13er

Post by Ed_Groves »

timisimaginary wrote: Tue Jul 05, 2022 10:11 am
The Android wrote: Sat Jul 02, 2022 9:01 am Hope he recovers. I also spend a decent amount of time in Grizzly or Grizzly-adjacent areas. Hope I never have to deal with a charge, they are so fast.

This video does a nice job showing how crucial it is to be prepared with spray, gun, or both. Despite being sponsored by a firearm company, the takeaway is that preparation with your preferred deterrent is crucial. For most, the spray is easier to learn, cheaper, and more effective but watching the simulated charge @19:13 shows just how difficult even the spray might be to deploy.

even in that video, he has the spray accessible and is just waiting for the alert to deploy it, and it's still too late. a truly surprise encounter when you're not expecting it, there's no chance. spray is good if you see the bear with enough time and distance to unholster and aim it before the bear starts charging, but if the bear's already charging before you know it, it's too late.
i was surprised and charged by an unleashed dog a few weeks ago from about the same distance as that bear decoy. it was a real eye-opener. even if i had it in my hand ready to go, there was no spray or weapon that was going to work in time to stop it. spray or no spray, weapon or no weapon, the best defense is awareness of your surroundings and alerting any nearby wildlife to your presence before you can surprise them. people might look at me funny for running with a bear bell in bear habitat (and we only have black bears here) but i don't want to find out what happens when i come running around a bend straight into a bear on the trail.
+1
My opinion is up in the air on bells. There is conflicting research about their effectiveness. I prefer to periodically talk, even when I am alone, and I carry bear spray with the hope that I can deploy it in time. As for a weapon I have thought about it and researched it, but the information seems to indicate that unless you are a brilliant shot capable of hitting a galloping bear in just the right spot you are probably screwed. I have hiked in grizzly country - Canada, the Pacific Northwest, and Glacier National Park and I am always extremely aware. I have also read that hiking in a group of at least four people is safer as the bear sees the group as more intimidating. (If a grizzly can be intimidated. LOL) I keep the bear spray handy in black bear country as well.
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Re: Hiker mauled by grizzly on WY 13er

Post by TomPierce »

A buddy and I did a climb last August in bear country (Washakie Needle in WY), and while we saw grizzly tracks we didn't have a bear encounter. That aside, a few thoughts:

-To prepare for the climb I did a bit a browsing on Youtube of video clips of actual grizzly charges. I thought it was useful to know what a charge looked like vs. bluff charges, the speed involved, etc. Sobering at a minimum...actually a bit terrifying.

-I can't recommend strongly enough to practice with your spray before an outing. To facilitate that, Amazon offers one of the better sprays in a two pack: One of the actual spray, the other of an identical cannister but filled with inert spray. It allows you to unholster, de-clip, aim & spray at a lower cost and no chance of fumbling it and inhaling the spray. Excellent practice idea.

-I was really surprised that the goal is to create a cloud of mist that the bear moves into and inhales, vs. a liquid stream that you aim directly at the bear's nose. Bear spray is not "super mace." It's more like a "super mist."

-Fully agree with Ed's suggestion to hike in a group and make noise. We did the classic "hey bear!" yell every time we entered the trees/bushes, and we were always scanning around for bears.

Be safe out there.

-Tom
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Re: Hiker mauled by grizzly on WY 13er

Post by timisimaginary »

Ed_Groves wrote: Tue Jul 05, 2022 10:47 am My opinion is up in the air on bells. There is conflicting research about their effectiveness. I prefer to periodically talk, even when I am alone, and I carry bear spray with the hope that I can deploy it in time. As for a weapon I have thought about it and researched it, but the information seems to indicate that unless you are a brilliant shot capable of hitting a galloping bear in just the right spot you are probably screwed. I have hiked in grizzly country - Canada, the Pacific Northwest, and Glacier National Park and I am always extremely aware. I have also read that hiking in a group of at least four people is safer as the bear sees the group as more intimidating. (If a grizzly can be intimidated. LOL) I keep the bear spray handy in black bear country as well.
yeah, i don't know how much the bell helps, but it can't hurt. it's light and easy to pack away if i don't need it. i only use it when running, it jingles pretty well when running, hiking it doesn't always make enough noise. even if it doesn't alert bears, it does seem to help move slower hikers out of my way. they hear me coming up on them a lot sooner and move off the trail, it's almost worth wearing it just for that.
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Re: Hiker mauled by grizzly on WY 13er

Post by The Android »

I suppose I might look at someone funny for wearing bear bells since they probably don't work.

https://www.nps.gov/articles/hiking-in- ... irt%20road.

https://www.backpacker.com/trail-news/d ... ally-work/

And those articles claims are mainly based on data from an MS Thesis at U Calgary which shows bears move away at about the same rate bells or no bell. https://prism.ucalgary.ca/bitstream/han ... sequence=1

Personally I am less concerned about black bears. I have had several close encounters and they were all very terrified of me. I have had at least 3 close moose encounters while trail running which were much more worrisome than any of the bear encounters. I have also had many unleashed dog encounters which must rank close to the top of the worst animal encounters.

Although I don't use bear bells, I don't disagree with the general idea about making noise. On certain trails or areas I will also clap or yell 'hey bear' especially if solo. I'm ashamed to admit I've even contemplated getting one of those bluetooth boomboxes for certain areas... I've been on many trails in ID/MT/WY where the trail itself is in quite a bit of danger of vanishing completely as FS budgets waned over the years. These trails go deep into the backcountry and may only see a few users a week, or all the use is concentrated during hunting season, etc. Sometimes the only thing keeping those trails alive is the occasional moto user. Very fun from an exploration perspective, but can be counterproductive for focused trail running training.

Also more bear spray tips I've learned: In many griz areas costco offers a bulk 2 pack at a price better than Amazon. Check your trip itinerary and purchase there when you arrive in griz country. The spray also expires, so if its been a few 4 years or so use your old one for training, and purchase a new full strength one.
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Re: Hiker mauled by grizzly on WY 13er

Post by timisimaginary »

The Android wrote: Tue Jul 05, 2022 4:33 pm I suppose I might look at someone funny for wearing bear bells since they probably don't work.

https://www.nps.gov/articles/hiking-in- ... irt%20road.

https://www.backpacker.com/trail-news/d ... ally-work/

And those articles claims are mainly based on data from an MS Thesis at U Calgary which shows bears move away at about the same rate bells or no bell. https://prism.ucalgary.ca/bitstream/han ... sequence=1

Personally I am less concerned about black bears. I have had several close encounters and they were all very terrified of me. I have had at least 3 close moose encounters while trail running which were much more worrisome than any of the bear encounters. I have also had many unleashed dog encounters which must rank close to the top of the worst animal encounters.

Although I don't use bear bells, I don't disagree with the general idea about making noise. On certain trails or areas I will also clap or yell 'hey bear' especially if solo. I'm ashamed to admit I've even contemplated getting one of those bluetooth boomboxes for certain areas... I've been on many trails in ID/MT/WY where the trail itself is in quite a bit of danger of vanishing completely as FS budgets waned over the years. These trails go deep into the backcountry and may only see a few users a week, or all the use is concentrated during hunting season, etc. Sometimes the only thing keeping those trails alive is the occasional moto user. Very fun from an exploration perspective, but can be counterproductive for focused trail running training.

Also more bear spray tips I've learned: In many griz areas costco offers a bulk 2 pack at a price better than Amazon. Check your trip itinerary and purchase there when you arrive in griz country. The spray also expires, so if its been a few 4 years or so use your old one for training, and purchase a new full strength one.
the only issue with those studies is they don't actually tell you whether the bear was alerted to your presence by the bell or not. they only tell you if the bear visibly reacted or moved. even if the bear doesn't alter his behavior, his awareness of you might be enough to prevent a worse reaction when he does see you. all my bear sightings have been in Shenandoah Nat'l Park, where i go pretty often. those bears are pretty indifferent to people regardless of how close or how much noise you're making. i've seen bears walking 50' away from me, moseying along brunching on foliage and not reacting at all. they definitely knew i was there, just couldn't care less. one time i was hiking on a very busy trail, and up ahead a guy was stopped on the trail, filming a bear as it just leisurely strolled right across the trail 20' in front of him and then into the forest on the other side. i hear the Smokey Mountain bears are even worse. the Shenandoah bears just ignore you, the Smokey bears will come right up to you looking for food. bells won't make a difference in any of those situations, but if there's a chance they'll help me avoid that 1 in a million coming-around-the-corner straight into a bear surprise situation, it's worth it. even if the bear doesn't move right away, at least he isn't surprised, and it's the surprise aspect that concerns me most.

i could yell or clap too (and probably get more funny looks than the bell) but i just feel like the bell makes sound continuously without effort, whereas if i'm yelling and clapping, i have to do it constantly, because inevitably it's going to be the one section you don't purposefully make noise where you'll end up running into something. also, those SNP trails are really rocky in places, and i find myself so focused on concentrating on navigating the rocks beneath my feet that i'm not looking ahead very far or thinking of much else, so those are areas where the bell lets me concentrate on other things. haven't been in grizzly territory before, honestly i don't know if i'd even run in those areas, especially since i'm a solo runner. i'd probably hike with a can of bear spray in my hand and be hyperaware of my surroundings. even scarier are mountain lions, and you can forget all about bells or spray with them, they'll be on you before you even know what hit you.

but i definitely agree, all my worst encounters have been with unleashed dogs. i've been chased, charged, bitten, everything by them and it's amazing how many of them were "friendly" according to their owners. you don't even have to be in the backcountry - the dog who attacked me and my (leashed) dog a few weeks ago was just sitting unleashed in someone's yard when i took my dog out of the car, i heard yelling and turned around just in time to yank my dog out of the way, but it didn't matter, it was back on us in a matter of seconds and all three of us ended up on the ground with me trying to wrestle the dog off my dog, luckily he got out of it with only a couple bite wounds on his ear, but it could have been so much worse, all because someone thought it was ok to take a dog outside without a leash.
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Re: Hiker mauled by grizzly on WY 13er

Post by XterraRob »

Carry a 7ft polearm that doubles as a hiking stick.
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