Are bears as big an issue on islands in the bigger Northern lakes of BWCA? I know they swim, I’m talking about frequency of sightings, problems. My reason for asking is that I’d like to leave the bear can home, hang food, save some weight.
Bears on islands and shoals
I don’t know about the BWCA, but both times I paddled the Yukon 1000 mile canoe race we regularly saw bear and even moose tracks on small islands and even on barren gravel shoals where we camped. Isolation by strong current and distance from shore didn’t seem to keep them away. Race rules required that all food be in bear resistant canisters.
I would expect you need to be more
vigilant. Everyone wants to camp on an island cause they think they won’t be visited by bears.
Not only is firewood scarce but bears know which islands are visited more than the mainland. I have seen bears in Quetico ( I don’t do the BWCA) and every single one of them was in the water or on an island.
Islands can be bear garden step stones.
McPhee discusses bears in: Coming into The Country
I still won’t eat oatmeal…
while backpacking in northern Maine, we hung our food to keep it safe from bears. The raccoons got into it anyway,everything but the oatmeal. the next few days we ate nothing but oatmeal and the occasional brook trout. oatmeal crusted brook trout, trout stuffed with oatmeal, grilled trout with oatmeal fritters. to this day…
bring the bear proof container.
I guess I’ll take the can…
Because I don’t care for oatmeal.
30 Some Trips…
....and only one bear that tried (Unsuccessfully) to get our food in the BWCAW. We did have one "Lounge" in the ripe raspberry patch all night in one camp, and one investigate and leave. Anyway, be vigilant but don't fret about it. I also ALWAYS take my food with me if I'm away from camp.
Anyone who tells you they KNOW how a bear's going to behave is a liar. They have different personalities as we do and every situation is unique. Assume they are there (island or not) and put your food in a bear proof container or hang it. I started out "Hanging," but now prefer to "Hide" rather than "Hang" myself. And if you already own a bear proof container, I'd use it. Why fret about the possibility of losing your food while your bear-proof container sits at home?
Have a good time, and be vigilant, but don't sweat about the bears.
less likely on an island than shore
I always try to camp on an island if I can in Quetico, and I do believe it lessens the chances of a bear visiting your camp unless you are doing a lot of cooking, like bacon in the mornings or steaks on the first night, but I don’t worry about it if I camp on mainland.
Never have had a bear in camp or near camp.
I hang my food 99% of the time, as much to keep it away from ground dwelling varmints as from bears, Never used a bear cannister in BWCA - Yukon is a different matter as you can’t always find a place to hang your food even if you wanted to.
I never cook anything over a fire and just use freeze dried to limit the smell I put in the air, which helps reduce potential of bears. Though I do occasionally cook a fish at camp, I try to burn the leftovers completely.
the only two time i have had issues with bears in BWCA were both at portages when bears tried to mug us for the food - just got back to one of the two boats we’d loaded on the first trip and found a pack in the water, and canine tooth holes in my water bottle - the bear must have heard us coming and left - we were lucky; other time was just a very short portage, like 20 yards and both me and my dad just hand carried the canoe on the second trip - he stopped short and said there was a bear at our packs - bear left, but that happened in about 5 minutes or less of leaving the packs alone. the other time, we were gone maybe 45 minutes.
the first instance shows the effectiveness of scent proofing your food bag - the bear walked right over it in the canoe to get to my daypack, which he lifted up and then dropped in the lake, but never botherd the food bag.
I’d like to see some studies
on bears on islands vs shore. We are all going on anectdotal experiences.
They are excellent swimmers. I suspect I see them on islands as people careless and not like to camp on islands as they think they are safe from bears.
OTOH I have bears here and I live on the mainland.
islands are bear free
not what McPhee wrote.
The mainland may have MORE bears but islands have bears because why ?
and island bears are HUNGRY
3. there's an actor stalking NNJ in a bear suit*.
Reading Alaska material kayakers often write:
we had a good nights sleep on Umatoke I. BECAUSE
there were no bear"
Often the next sentence reads .....'the next morning we found'.....
*more evidence people are unbearably stupid