Bears and hyperphagia and hiking question

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In the fall, when bears are eating everything prior to hibernating, are there more bear attacks? I live near Yellowstone, so there are plenty of bears, and there is no hunting (in the park). So, I'm trying to avoid stories about increased numbers of people out and about while hunting, or gut piles attracting bears. I guess I'm asking if the bears are more predations in the fall... ? (The animal I regularly have a problem with are bison--they seem to think the grass tastes best right under the food pole.). Thanks for any insight.

Pringles
 

Jackson

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#2
We have some people on here that know grizzly bears pretty well, like @Outdoor_Fool and @scatman. They should be able to answer this one.

I used to think attacks were more likely in the fall, but I think that belief was incorrect.
 
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#3
"Attack" is IMO an incredibly unfair way to describe encounters that are more often than not a protective sow or gut pile hunting boar and mensa reject hunter. I was fully charged on the 4th of July 5 years ago. 13 Septembers ago a huge boar stood on his hinds less than 27' from me and ran away as fast as he could. Every year can be quite different than the last.

Some falls food sources are very scarce and bears have to adapt. Some cross a line, but VERY few.
 
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#4
As a very general rule, no. The extreme quest for food may bring bears in closer proximity to humans but unless the bears are food-conditioned, they should not necessarily equate us with a food source. Not us, per se, as in there's a human to eat, but there's a human, they probably have some food that I can abscond with. As @Absarokanaut said, their first reaction should be to run away, unless it's a sow protecting cubs and you have approached within their defensible personal space unknowingly, aka a surprise encounter. Fifty yards is a general distance within which a grizzly is more likely to charge but behaviors are so plastic, that distance can vary a lot.

Now, from what I saw from my 2 visits to the Yellowstone region this summer and fall, the berry crop was a near absolute failure in the GYE. This means that the bears (black and griz) will be ranging much wider to find calories and many will likely be a lot bolder in their quest. I found a lot of evidence of bears working really hard for not a lot of calories. Those are hungry bears. You probably won't be seeing too many cubs-of-the-year next spring.

As long as you follow the general rules of bear safety ((keep your food unavailable, make plenty of noise to avoid surprise encounters, and pay attention to the local environment (rotting carcass smells; ravens, eagles, etc grouped together in a tree or trees; etc)), you should be fine. As poor condition as the females are likely in, many of them may have already headed for hibernation with the recent snows in the high country. Again a general rule, but sows with cubs are the primary ones to worry about as far as defensive attacks are concerned.

Hope that helps. It's a really complex topic but the basics apply most of the time.
 
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Thread starter #5
Thanks for the information, and I didn't mean to use a loaded word, I just wasn't sure how to describe it.

I thought that the bears of Yellowstone ate almost no berries... I think I read that. I know which book, I just can't remember the author. I've heard that they are now in the lower elevations chomping away on rose hips. I'd like to go watch and take some photos. Hopefully next weekend. I only saw one bear in Yellowstone yesterday, a beautiful sow grizzly, on a carcass in the Hayden. Supposedly there was a cub, but it was not visible when I was there.

Pringles
 
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#7
Black bears are chowing down on Hawthorne Berries big time on Moose Wilson Road. I don't know about Huckleberries, Service Berries, etc. this year. When I was on the Ranch bears loved the Rose hips and goose berries and still do.
 
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Oh yeah, @Outdoor_Fool in my understanding bears in the GYE don't really hibernate. Pregnant sows may stay in for a few months straight through but I'd heard others will come out every 6 weeks or so. I went to a G&F delisting meeting a few years ago and the biologist said there was only a 6 week period aroudn Christmas when *ALL* of their monitored/collared bears are denned up. I would not expect to many bears. IT's still getting into the 50s so I'm not sure how many have headed in. I think more of the bears usually head in after Thanksgiving but I honestly wouldn't know about special circumstanes like you describe @Outdoor_Fool. Alkthough there is deeper snow at elevation areas I know with dens on North facing areas are still open.
 
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#9
I can imagine it has become more similar to several of the Glacier NP grizzlies back in the early 90's (in my experience, the mature males) that left the den every few weeks to usurp/clean up wolf kills. With all the carcasses in Yellowstone due to wolves, it only makes sense. Thanks for that info, @Absarokanaut.

I spent more time in the Tetons this year than YNP, but the hucks were virtually non-existent, mountain ash was plentiful but way later than usual, the service berries were plentiful in some localized areas, the elderberries were spotty, and the currants were mostly doing well. The 2-3 spots with any concentrations of hucks had been picked over pretty well already but we were able to snag a few. There were some buffalo berries around but overall pretty weak. What really stuck out for me was there were no, zero, zip, nada, berry-filled scats along the trails or anywhere else that we roamed.

I only spent a little time and in very limited areas in the whitebarks so I don't know how their productivity was this year. Hopefully it was much better overall than where I was, that would obviously make a huge difference to the females that utilize this resource.
 

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