Friday, August 17, 2007

WA Cascade Grizzlies, part 2

In my previous post, I talked about how I felt about having grizzlies in the WA Cascade mountains where I hike and camp. While I like it, other backcountry users have expressed fears and reservations. I can respect their feelings but do feel that many are due to people's lack of knowledge of or familiarity with grizzlies.

Some people are fearful of the bears, for themselves, their children, and their pets or livestock. This fear isn't irrational, grizzlies do kill and severely injure people and may attack livestock and pets. However the likelihood of a grizzly attack in areas of such low density is quite low and people can do things to reduce even that danger. A favorite book is Stephen Herrero's Bear Attacks: Their Causes and Avoidance in which he discusses the ways to reduce the risk. I've discussed some of the things I do when hiking or camping, being alert and making noise hiking and keeping a clean camp are ways I reduce my risk. Herrero goes much further and talks about living and working in areas of high bear frequency and surviving an attack. Also, Wikepedia's list of fatal bear attacks lists more black bear than grizzly. Also of course lightening, hypothermia, falls, drowning, getting lost, and combinations of these kill backcountry users every year.

Others worry about restrictions on backcountry use, closed trails, camp areas, etc. Certainly in Yellowstone NP some areas are closed to entry for specific periods, mainly spring, and sometimes when grizzlies spend time in an area. It is possible that some parts of the Cascades could have periodic closures or even become off limits. I hope not permanently but could accept seasonal closures or area closures because of grizzly activity. I doubt this would be much of a problem unless grizzlies started frequenting popular areas or authorities got overzealous. Of course I would be disappointed if I got to a trail or campsite and learned it was closed, but I'm used to closures because of fire, salvage logging, or washouts. I've learned to have alternative routes or sites and to check ahead of time for accessibility.



At 21/8/07 10:00, Blogger MELYNDA said...

I think seasonal closures for bears (or any animals that need it) are a good idea. Here in Montana we have closures for elk, and as you mentioned bears. Animals need a break from us. I think it makes it easier for us to live together when the pressure lets up for a period every year. (Now if only I could schedule a yearly closure for myself!)


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