What to do: Grizzly in camp at night

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Bob

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What I've read/seen.... Bear attacking fight....threat, bluffing or nearby, prepare to spray or spray. Air horn as well....
I'd still defer to the ctaighead or grizzly institute for info.. A tent forms kinda me take barrier or size is think... Why I frown on using a hammock in bear country...just a snack then
 

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Outdoor_Fool

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Herrero regards a tent as a barrier of some sort. If the bear wants in, it's coming in, sure. But if you step out into a predaceous-minded black bear, you've just presented yourself as a willing meal. Add to that the fact that if you do not spot the black bear (black phase, cinnamon, chocolate, whatever) immediately in the darkness, with your bear spray ready, then the advantage is all bear. If you walk/crawl out of your tent into a nearby grizzly, you've gone from being a non-threat in your tent to being a potential threat. Again, if you don't immediately spot the bear, the bear has all the advantage.

Based on the fact that black bear attacks are usually predaceous and grizzly attacks are usually defensive, I see no point on putting yourself out there to assist or create either situation. Hence I lay in my tent with my bear spray ready to go until they move on, which is the highly likely scenario. In 40+ years of camping/backpacking, I've only suspected a bear walking by twice, and even then I wasn't sure. Maybe some walked by undetected, I don't know.
That does not count the summers mentioned in a previous post when I was working in areas of dense bear populations, where I know bears were frequently in the vicinity. Besides, if all you hear is a soft-footed animal sneaking around outside in the dark, how do you know if bear, cougar, wolf, coyote, skunk, etc, or sasquatch, based on sound of soft feet being placed on ground pretty lightly, typically.

Of course, keep this in perspective, in most areas (there are exceptions), the chance of a bear willingly coming into your camp at night is minutely small. The chance of it coming in with bad intention, if you have a clean camp and it hasn't been previously corrupted, is even smaller. If you're out in the backcountry and camping in a lightly- or never-used spot, the bears (probably) haven't been corrupted by ignorant campers like you see at developed campgrounds, so the chance of a food-conditioned bear is even smaller still. That is why I don't sleep in developed campgrounds.
 
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WasatchWill

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Sounds like a recipe for disaster. Surprising they'd publish that. Startling and chasing a 300+ pound animal, that could end you in an instant, in the darkness. Maybe an ok thing to do for black bears, but I always thought grizzlies were the ones you never do anything threatening to unless they're already on the attack and becoming predatory.
I think it'd be hard to tell, in the rush of a moment, if a grizzly is being predatory or defensive if blindsided and attacked by one of them, but I understand it's most likely to be defensive attack if a grizzly. Much better though if you can see them coming and quickly process the situation. (Are there cubs around? Did you startle it? Have you encroached on a carcass or berry patch? etc.) With black bears you can reasonably assume are always predatory if they begin to attack at which point, you certainly fight back with all your might, aiming for their nose and eyes as much as you can.

With grizzly attacks typically being defensive because they see you as a threat, most everything I've read on how to react in these situations is to show you're not a threat by not fighting back. Instead, fall to the ground, lay on your stomach, spread your feet (to give yourself more leverage with the ground and make it more difficult for you to be turned over by the bear) and cover your head and ears with your hands and arms and then try to remain as still as possible. It's also beneficial to have a pack on which can add as an additional barrier of protection between you and the bear in this situation as it investigates you and tries to disable you. Again, with grizzly attacks mostly being defensive in nature, they should see you as less of a threat when you do this and move on once they've concluded you aren't going to be a threat anymore.

I have an anecdotal account of this that I think supports this advice. A superior of mine at work was attacked by a grizzly in the Tetons 20 something years ago. He was out on an early morning trail run and slammed down by a grizzly. He initially tried fighting back or at least muscling himself away from the bear in some attempt to escape which in turn seemingly kept the bear engaged in the hostile conflict. After sustaining some rather severe injuries and becoming exhausted by trying to wrestle himself away and clock the bear a good one (an admittedly stupid idea by himself) he surrendered his will and accepted the idea it was the end for him and basically gave himself up. Once he did that, the bear must have sensed this and turned its attention elsewhere, stopping its attack and soon went on its way from there. Realizing the bear had moved on and that he himself wasn't dead yet, he was able to hobble his way back down the trail a ways until he encountered a group of local hiker-photographers on their way up the trail, the only other people on the same trail that morning, and the photographers were able to split up with one going back for help while the others stayed and waited with him. I think he ended up spending a week or two in a local hospital to be repaired and recover from the incident.

In fact...after googling, here's a link to an article among many that was later written up on the incident: https://www.nationalparkstraveler.org/2009/06/rocky-mountain-wrestling-long-distance-runners-grizzly-encounter-grand-teton-national-park
 

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