Rent a bear can, save a life –

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Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Rent a bear can, save a life

The black bear’s sleek black coat and seven-foot frame symbolized the wilderness of the Adirondacks. Black bears can be found munching berries or grabbing fish in a stream. Today, the Black Bears of the High Peaks forage for food left behind by backpackers and hikers. Black bears are opportunistic hunters and eat what is easiest to find. Why bother to hunt when a human has prepared a feast?

bear cubPopular campsites often have food left out overnight, which continues to attract bears. Over time, bears become aggressive towards people when they are foraging for food. Once a bear continues to return to an area and is aggressive, it is classified as a nuisance bear. The first step in stopping a nuisance bear is protecting the food.

The most effective form of food protection is bear cans. Bear cans are required in the Eastern High Peaks area between April 1st and November 30e and recommended in the Adirondacks. Bear cans are smooth cylinders, which makes them difficult for a bear to grab and open. Here at VIC, we rent bear cans for just $ 5 on weekends and $ 10 for 6 nights. Our jerry cans weigh only 2.7 pounds and 8.8 inches by 11 inches long, which is perfect for a one week shipment.

There are a few things to remember when using a bear canister. Pack the box the day before a trip to make sure all foods hold. In the field, the bear box must be stored at least 100 feet from a campground and cooking area. Store the cartridge on level ground so that a bear is less likely to detect it. Never place your container near water as a bear could drop it into a river or lake. Hanging the bear box is not recommended as a bear can easily grab the rope and fly away with your food!

Wild bears aren’t the problem, but people who don’t protect their food are. Often, DEC deals with nuisance bears. First, they remove all food from the site the bear returns to. If that doesn’t work, the bear is trapped and brought to a new location. The last resort to stop a bear is to euthanize it.

bear proof canisterIf you encounter a bear, stay calm and back up slowly, don’t run. Do not throw food or your backpack at a bear, it will only make them a nuisance bear to others. To scare the bear, make loud noises and place your hands above your head to get as big as possible.

Come visit the VIC and rent your own bear canister! Register online or at reception then collect your container. Hope to see you and thank you for protecting yourself and the black bear!

Photos of the bear courtesy of Larry Master. Photo of the cartridge provided by Paul Smith’s College VIC

Alice menis

Alice menis

Alice Menis is a 2021 Steward at Paul Smith’s College VIC. When not blogging, she can be found patrolling our trails, educating the public and leading the VIC’s environmental education program for children, the Junior Heron’s Club.

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