Thursday, July 1, 2010

Bear Country...Finally

For the past few years the reports and sightings have been increasing around the Ozark region of the elusive black bear. The reports for the main stream public have been few and far between and it made us wonder while in the back country, do we really have to be Missouri? Well it is finally official, we are in bear country. This months issue of the Missouri Conservationist puts that item to rest and lists 10 ways to help protect yourself from the burgeoning bear population. While most of the items deal with car camping, some of the items can translate into people who are sans car and exist in the back country on their own two feet...well I guess mountain bikes as well. The first item mentioned is never feeding bears; this one is for everyone, even if you see a bear on the side of the road as you fly down any back country highway. Feeding a bear is bad and could injure someone else in the future. The next few items mentioned deal with how food is handled. In a backpacking situation, it would be best for us to begin to adopt a method of eating dinner while on the trail and continuing another 1/2 hour or so to our camp. This method would prevent the majority of food smells from being generated while in camp and subsequently next to your bed. Our group currently does not hang a bear bag, but by adding a few ounces, an ultra lightweight version could save some problems. All smellable items would be placed in the bag and hung on a rope that is positioned between two trees at least 15' high and 5' from the trunk. The last item they mention in the article is keeping your dogs on a leash. I do not own a dog and probably wouldn't take a dog along, but we have had dogs on our trips and they remain unleashed almost the entire time. The dog owner would have to take care of that issue...I for one will stay with my chickens in my backyard. Check the article here. jm

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