black bear and bug spray

does the recommendation of hanging your food, soap, shampoo, etc., in bear country apply to bug spray? what i’m thinking is so you take all the precautions of removing food smells around your camp to minimize an encounter, but then you spray yourself, head to toe, with the stuff, and probably sleep in it. over all these years, aren’t the bears conditioned to associate bug spray to humans? and humans = food (not in and of itself, but the food we carry)?

Hanging food in trees is an art.
I have a fool proof method but it’s too involved to write it all here. But tourists visiting Glacier Park should spray the bear repellent on their clothing, and when attacked by a mosquito, spray the bastard with the bug spray !!!

wouldn’t worry about it
Interesting question. The whole point of putting scented non food items into a bear barrel or hanging it in a tree is because most of the scents used are similar to stuff bears like to eat, i.e.: fruits, flowers etc.

Would they be attracted to bug spray? They might very well be, at least at first. I have heard they find citronella very attractive. Bears are very inquisitive and will investigate anything new in their environment, particularly a new scent. If a bear had never smelled bug repellent it probably would attract him to some degree out of curiosity, but I doubt it’s something you need to worry about. Probably be pointless to put it in the food cache once you’ve used it, even if you can no longer smell it to a bear’s nose you and your sleeping bag will reek of the stuff for days.

You have given me an idea. I encounter black bears daily (I study them). I have some 100% DEET handy, it’s all I use when the bugs are bad. When I go out today I’ll spray a bit along one of their trails and check the reaction. As I use the stuff on myself my guess is the bears reaction will be “oh, just the old fool with the camera & notebook again”, but when I get the chance I’ll buy a few cans of other types and set up a proper experiment. Might be interesting. I’ll post the results.

I met a guy way the heck
up in the Yosemite back country who took a big salami with him. He hung all his food in a tree properly but he still had the smell on him when he sacked out. A bear pulled him out of his tent by the end of his sleeping bag and when they both saw each others faces they both freaked out ! When he yelled at the bear, it ran off. Of coarse it was a black bear as the only grizzlies in California are on the state flags or in zoos, but if he had done that in Glacier or Yellowstone he might have ended up as a breakfast meal. I am in no way saying that black bears are not aggressive because some can be as dangerous as grizzlies but normally one can scare them off quite easily. I carry a gun when in griz country. Every year in the Flathead valley many problem bears need to be relocated. I remember one year when out of the seventy bears that were moved out of the valley nineteen were grizzlies. This is not wilderness, the valley is heavily populated with malls and housing developments.

bear in yosemite
the last time i camped in yosemite, i slept thru 2 black bears walking through the middle of our campsite one night. my friends only woke me up after the bears left because they were too surprised by the bears to yell, or so they said.

OK HERE IT IS (tree hanging food)

– Last Updated: Jun-05-07 10:32 PM EST –

Tie axe, piece of wood or a rock, to a rope, find a tree well away from the campsite that has a branch low enough to toss the rope over but high enough so the bear can't reach it from the ground. The tree must be close to a smaller sapling that is sturdy enough to climb but not strong enough for the bears to climb. It also must be strong enough so the bear can't just reach up and bend it over. This smaller tree is for tieing the end of the rope to. You must climb to the top and tie the rope off. The point on the branch at which you hang the rope must also be far enough from the trunk so the bears can't climb up the trunk and reach out to grab the rope. Hoist up the food up far enough so the bears can't reach it from the ground. This branch must be sturdy enough so the food weight wont break the branch, but weak enough so the bear is shaky on it while trying and wont take the chance of breaking the branch and falling.
Don't overload the food sack with stuff other than food because the bears may not waste time and energy on bug spray or other people smells when the real prize is luring him to the food tree. Do not take scented deodorant, perfume cologne or scented sunscreen into bear country at all. One more thing, You ladies, time your trip to fall well between your monthly cycle, and when in grizzly areas take a freaking weapon.
Don't rely on bear spray, if the bear is really hungry, angry or guarding young ones the spray may not be of any use. Stand tall and yell a lot and if attacked, start shooting. These instructions are proven and effective and may not be needed in a wilderness area, but developed campgrounds and heavily used remote campsites have "people wise" problem bears. You may have more trouble by surprising one along the trail than at night in the camp. Make noise when hiking.

Black Bears & DEET
Yesterday I sprayed a bit of DEET on a shrub along a bear trail that leads to a field where dandelions are blooming (bears love the blossoms and are feeding heavily there now). Also sprayed some on dandelion foliage (avoiding the blossoms) in a more or less checkerboard pattern in the feeding area. I set myself up on a hill overlooking both the trail and feeding area. Over the course of four hours observed three bears, First was An adult female that is just coming out of heat, second was a sub adult that I suspect is a female, and lastly an adult male. All three sniffed at the treated shrub as they passed but without breaking stride. In the field they fed normally without regard to treated or untreated areas.

Too soon to draw any conclusions but as far as DEET goes it doesn’t seem to hold much interest for them one way ort another.

Girl scout has a run in with a bear.
Just like I described on this thread earlier in my “I met a guy way the heck” reply. I just saw the story on the TV news.

DEET and Bears
Bug spray bugs bears so they bearly like it!


– Last Updated: Jun-09-07 3:36 AM EST –

that was pretty bad yakman. By the way, something else I found out about DEET, it's a remarkably effective herbicide. Live and learn.

Yes…but at least I tried
cool name dreamsofbears. I like bears much also. Did you see the movie “Grizzlyman”? I loved that movie and I loved Tim Tredwell. I know people have there opinions, and of course I got mine. Sure, he crossed that line of respect, but I think the Great Spirit had a special mission for his life. The creator used Tims loving spirit,courage to be real and true to himself. He at least helped people to be more aware of the grizzly situation and drew attention to the plight of bears. Now us humans are at least a little more aware of bears so we no there is a problem so we can work to protect them. Bears totem is retrospect, that is a quality or gift about them that we can learn and be blessed from. About five years ago I kayaked up to alaska and saw lots of bears…what magneficent creatures. Stoped at a place called Anan Creek where you could walk in and observe the bears catching salmon and such…It was so cool. I read something else you wrote it sounds like you are in the wilds studing bears. Your cool name kind of attracted me to read what you said. Do you have a computer where your at in the wilds???Sounds neat…Sweet dreams and Bear blessings to you…yakman

Studing bears !
Hey yakman have you ever studded a bear !!! ?

black bears will check out most scents
When I worked in the bush as a brush cutter, we always had to be careful because black bears were attracted to the smell of gasoline and with the saw running, you can’t hear them come up behind you. They’d come, sniff the jerry cans and then carry on looking for something to eat. The noise of our saws didn’t even keep them away. I think black bears are just curious in general and will check out the source of any scent if it’s strong enough.

Last year, a tree planter in the area got bit by a black bear while he was sleeping in his tent. He said he didn’t have food in his tent but something attracted the bear. I’ve heard that in semi-populated areas, black bears think small tents are garbage bags (which they associate with food) and that might have been the case with the tree planter because the bear was dragging him away while he was still in his tent.

sorry for the ramble, trying to distract myself from actual work. also, don’t hate me for brush cutting for a major paper products company.

bug spray = people = maybe food
my concern is that most people go into the woods wearing bug spray so bears associate that smell with people. then, those same bears visit those same people and find food in some of those campsites. the result is those bears may then associate the smell of bug spray with the possibility, not a certainty, of the presence of food.

so while bears may not be attracted to the smell of bug spray, it does tell them there are people nearby, and those people may have food, so go check it out.

well, yes and no
The bear’s sense of smell is remarkably acute, enough so that it would not need to make an association such as bug spray = people=food. Someone once said to me in reference to a drug-sniffing dog, “A pizza comes out of the oven and you smell a pizza, the dog will smell tomato, cheese, flour, oregano, oil, pepper, etc. A bear’s nose is at least as sensitive as dogs and in fact is probably a good deal more so. Throwing “bug spray” into the mix will not cause it to think, “hey that must be a human, I wonder if it has any food?” It has already smelled the human, the food you have eaten or handled, and the individual chemical components of that particular bug spray along with the detergent you washed your clothes in a week before you started the trip and quite possibly the deodorant your significant other was wearing when you hugged him or her goodbye before leaving on the trip. If any of those scents are either new to a bear or smell very much like something in its natural diet, it will investigate. The trouble starts if after tracking down those scents it has learned it can get an easy meal but you might just as well be concerned that it’s the smell of rip-stop nylon or fiberglass resin that first brought the bear in.

P.S. Oil of citronella does seem to be a strong attractant.

I know that a bear “shits in th e woods”? And that they can smell a female salmon underwater. I showed Tim Tredwell the bear maze as I trusted his gentle spirit with Gods precious bears!!! Also I used to watch Yogi bear when I was a kid. But mainly bear is one of my totems given by the Great Spirit so that i could answer stupid ass questions!!!

Womans bear black bear question
While we are descusses what attracts black bears,several woman have askes me if black bears are attracted to the smell of menstrual blood like grizzlys are.This is a real fear for them.Any info would be really appreciated and I will pass it on.


no statistical correlation

– Last Updated: Jun-26-07 5:23 AM EST –

As I have said previously any new or unusual scent will attract a black bear. Will a menstruating woman attract a black bear? She might. Will the bear take the smell of menses as a signal to feed/attack? Well, Probably not. There is no statistical correlation between menstruation and black bear attacks. None.

That being said I should point out that there has been a study using used tampons/sanitary napkins. The bears were ‘attracted’ to them in that they would sniff and lick them but bear in mind this is exactly the same reaction a bear would have to human or animal feces it comes across. It would be prudent to use proper hygiene and treat the tampons as you would food or food wastes but other than that I wouldn’t worry about it.

The most likely real life scenario of what the bear will do after catching the woman’s scent is approach under cover from down wind to a point close enough where it can observe the source of the scent i.e., the woman, without being seen. That’s the point at which the bear will sort out if there is a feeding opportunity or threat. Now I know the thought of a bear eying you from the bushes sounds a bit unnerving but that is simply what bears do, and I assure you it’s already happened to you just about every time you’ve been in the woods, male, female, menstruating or not. Generally they just move on after their curiosity is satisfied. After the person(s) leave the area the bear will come in and give the campsite a good going over. That’s the importance of not leaving attractants or food in a campsite. You don’t want to reward its curiosity. Next time it might not wait to come in.

Why all the bear paranoia? Worry about
being struck by lightning or some other real issue.

Bears & women
I was at a boat, sport, & travel show in Indy once and went to see “Caesar the wrestling bear”. He was a good sized Black Bear. If you could pin the bear, you won $100. I think the charge was $25 to wrestle. There were a couple of young macho guys that tried and were promptly taken off their feet. Then a young lady stepped up to try. She was wearing rather tight jeans. Caesar got her down, shoved his snout against her crotch and started snorting and sniffing loudly. She naturally freaked out. They pulled the bear off after a few seconds. The crowd thought it was hilarious. The promoters said that he had been pinned twice, but I don’t believe it. Nobody even budged him.