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Effectiveness of Bear Bells?

Posted By: DianaB

Effectiveness of Bear Bells? - 11/22/10 05:29 PM

How effective are bear bells at warning off other (predatory) wild animals? We live near a big regional park and last night I learned that a friend of a friend was walking her big gsd/ridgeback mix off leash in a heavily wooded area. I don't know if the dog was out of sight, or how it happened, but the dog was grabbed by some kind of wild animal and carried off. The owner heard only one single cry and then they were gone. His remains have not been found and this was about 2 weeks ago (RIP dear dog). We have lived in the area over 6 years and have heard of a few mt. lion sightings.

Richard takes Siena there all the time and they can get deep into the woods if they are doing anything more than a couple mile hike. Richard is the type who is not afraid of anything and thinks the chances are slim this would happen to us. Me, on the other hand am a big worrier. But as I know he will continue to go there (sometimes running at night on his own too without the pup (she likes to chase skunks)).

We own a couple of bear bells that we use when we go to Tahoe or something, but never locally. Is this a good (or bad) idea to put on the dog or human (or both)? I doubt Richard would wear the bell if he is on his own, though. I tend to think the bell draws attention from the animals (esp. if predatory), but honestly, I know nothing about this kind of thing. Thoughts.
Posted By: Diana

Re: Effectiveness of Bear Bells? - 11/22/10 05:38 PM

I was taught whenever I was out in bear country, to walk and MAKE NOISE! Talk loudly, clap, bells, just make it crystal clear that a loud, obnoxious, clumsy human is schlepping around the woods. I too would have thought that all that noise draws attention. I think the goal is to prevent surprising an animal into fight/flight and thus an attack. If an animal is out to predate and not just hanging about, I think you'd need to have a gun.

How scary to have your dog carried away like that.... I sure hope the killing blow came swiftly. frown
Posted By: DianaB

Re: Effectiveness of Bear Bells? - 11/22/10 05:49 PM

Yes, very scary. Our daycare provider is the one who has the friend who lost the dog and they go there all the time with the dogs. Even she said she's not sure she can ever go there again off leash. Is it better on-leash?? I suppose for control perhaps.

Understood about the gun. Good point (we don't have one!)
Posted By: LauraHolder

Re: Effectiveness of Bear Bells? - 11/22/10 05:59 PM

I have no advice since I leave in the city, but will be curious what other people suggest! We've gone camping in northern Wisconsin where there are some black bears and we used bear bells as a precaution and always had the dog (Fanny) leashed with us when we are hiking around. I'm a loud person by nature so I'm sure that helped deter any wild animals (and fellow humans smile ).
Posted By: Islandgsds

Re: Effectiveness of Bear Bells? - 11/22/10 06:15 PM

On Manitoulin Island they stopped the spring bear hunt about 10 years ago and now there are alot of bears to the point of hearing cases of nusience bears at least three or four times during the summer. This year it was my turn.

We had a bear skulking around the camp all summer and I always keep the bear bells on the dogs. I attribute the fact that they are playing around camp in the bush yet there has not been any problems.

The only time I had an encounter up close with the bear was when I was going to go for my daily walk with the girls. We got to the end on the lane to go onto the road when Larka stopped so suddenly in front of me I almost fell over her. I looked up to see what she was looking at in time to see the bear heading up the escarpment on the other side of the road.

Now in all fairness, the wind was strong and blowing cross ways so neither the dogs or the bear could have smelt the other. Also the sound of the wind was enough to rush voices away so I doubt the bear could hear the bells. It was only when visual contact was made that the bear luckily retreated.

That is the only true encounter I had with the bear this summer. I've seen it 3x when I turned a curve in the road, but mostly I just smelt it up on the ridge walking parrelel with us. I say that it is largely due to the bear bells that warn of our approach.

It also warns small creatures such as the squirrels of the dogs coming. So it gives everyone a fair chance.

All in all I would never consider going out with out the bear bells, it might not be 100% but any edge I have of warning that I"m coming is good. If I"m in really heavy bear country I would also recommend bear spray and one of those really loud air horns on a can (can't think of the proper name).

I'm so sorry to hear about your friends dog. And that does sound like a cat attack.
Posted By: Islandgsds

Re: Effectiveness of Bear Bells? - 11/22/10 06:22 PM

As for attracting perditory animals. Unless the animal is sick and can't find a meal by natural means then you shouldn't have a problem.
But in a normal situation, they would rather flee then fight. Why would they risk injury and the potential loss of hunting ability?

Best to find a game warden in the area you are planing to travel in and ask advice if you are unsure of an area. They would best be able to advise as to any problems.

I hate bears! They scare the heck out of me!
I've come across mountain lions twice when I lived out in BC many years ago and both times was an incredible experience. Maybe I was just lucky.
Posted By: mspiker03

Re: Effectiveness of Bear Bells? - 11/22/10 06:25 PM

*Most* of the bears in Tahoe want nothing to do with the dogs. That being said, we do carry bear spray (most of the time) when we go hiking (that we got when we were in Wyoming and was concerned about grizzlys, etc.). I am actually more concerned with coyotes and having them surround us in a pack - I have heard a couple of stories about this happening up here. My DH is more of a fan of the gun thing, and he will probably get one at some point now that we live in Tahoe and are out hiking all the time.
Posted By: BowWowMeow

Re: Effectiveness of Bear Bells? - 11/22/10 06:47 PM

Bear bells work great but it's unlikely it was a bear that walked off with that dog. That's very un-bear like behavior. More likely it was a mountain lion.

And I don't care how tough your DH thinks he is, walking there at night is especially dangerous. The only way to protect yourself from a mountain lion is if you see it first and can convince it that you are bigger and tougher. Best thing to do is to walk in a group. I also wouldn't walk any dog there off leash after something like that happened.
Posted By: SLEACHY

Re: Effectiveness of Bear Bells? - 11/22/10 07:06 PM

Quote:
I also wouldn't walk any dog there off leash after something like that happened.

Agreed. Whatever it was (sounds like a mountain lion to me too) now knows it can take dogs and I wouldn't put my dogs at risk. I like the idea of bear bells to warn the bears but not sure if that would deter or scare off a big cat.
Every week, I take a group of client's dogs out for a hike. I feel safety in numbers! We are noisy hikers too. With a GSD and a lab or 2 crashing thru the underbrush and a mini doxie barking his way around, bears can hear us coming from a mile away. I am always paranoid that something will snatch the doxie though. He is small enough for a large hawk to take. paranoid
Posted By: Kayos

Re: Effectiveness of Bear Bells? - 11/22/10 07:44 PM

When we lived in Oreogn I would go walk at the nearby state park. The game warden warned me several times not to let the dogs off leash as there had been many mountain lion sitings. I never saw one myself and I am glad of that.

I would think that noise and lots of it would alert wildlife and most of them should naturally flee from you. I would use the bear bells and consider a long line instead of off leash.
Posted By: DianaB

Re: Effectiveness of Bear Bells? - 11/22/10 09:41 PM

Originally Posted By: Kayos
I would think that noise and lots of it would alert wildlife and most of them should naturally flee from you. I would use the bear bells and consider a long line instead of off leash.


I think this is a nice compromise. Any tips on how I convince my stubborn boyfriend that this is what he should do?? I'm sure he will try convince me I am being irrational/paranoid/crazy, etc...but I also don't want to go into a panic every time he goes hiking there!) I never want to have to say "I told you so" because that means something bad has happened.

I've been a hiker for years and never encountered any wildlife (except the occasional sole coyote, maybe 2 at a time (who watched us very closely from afar). As i get older, I think of these things more and more (and get more timid). I just avoid them (not that that is good either).
Posted By: Islandgsds

Re: Effectiveness of Bear Bells? - 11/22/10 10:43 PM

Diana I'm so glad you started this thread. We are considering a move and it would be in thick bear country. Going hiking is one thing but having them around the house is a little unnerving to think about. I don't want to hi-jack this thread but I would love pointers as to ways to avoid encounters around the house.
Posted By: DianaB

Re: Effectiveness of Bear Bells? - 11/23/10 12:11 AM

Originally Posted By: Islandgsds
Diana I'm so glad you started this thread. We are considering a move and it would be in thick bear country. Going hiking is one thing but having them around the house is a little unnerving to think about. I don't want to hi-jack this thread but I would love pointers as to ways to avoid encounters around the house.


No worries on the hijack (and it's not a hijack!) I think this is good info for everyone. I know my immediate need is not regarding bears, but other smaller 'park' animals smile
Posted By: wonderdog

Re: Effectiveness of Bear Bells? - 11/23/10 03:48 AM

We have a lot of bears in our area. A friend of the family has a daughter who had a goat for 4H. Last year sometime, her goat was killed by a bear. Since then they got another goat, but have been leaving a dog outside with the new goat at night. No problems...but just recently they brought the dog in for ONE night, and the bear came back and killed their goat again.
I don't think most bears would mess with a large dog but a bear bell would be good so there are no surprises. But I don't know about mountain lions frown
Posted By: Kayos

Re: Effectiveness of Bear Bells? - 11/23/10 05:49 AM

I think I would simply insist he keep her on a long line. Is she your dog or his? Perhaps she is both as you have a relationship. But if it came down to it I would remember who wrote the check for her. As you are not married he or she who wrote check owns dog.

My dogs are pretty well trained but I can not compete with deer or enticing wildlife unless I opt for an e-collar.
Posted By: DianaB

Re: Effectiveness of Bear Bells? - 11/23/10 07:57 AM

Originally Posted By: Kayos
I think I would simply insist he keep her on a long line. Is she your dog or his? Perhaps she is both as you have a relationship. But if it came down to it I would remember who wrote the check for her. As you are not married he or she who wrote check owns dog.

My dogs are pretty well trained but I can not compete with deer or enticing wildlife unless I opt for an e-collar.

We own Siena together. She came out of our joint expense fund wink

I will only take Siena off leash at one of our local bike/horse trails where there is limited places for her to go. My control is not nearly as good as Siena's (I take leashed walks 90% of the time).

I learned there were two humans and three dogs present during the attack. The dogs went down an embankment to the creek for some reason (maybe they heard something). Two of the dogs came back to the humans and they heard the other one being attacked. They suspect the animal (mt. lion) was drinking from the creek and thought it a good opportunity to get an 80# dog for lunch. Broad daylight, middle of the day. Probably less than a half mile from one of the park entrances.

Man, Sure has been on my mind a lot today.
Posted By: Schnickle Fritz

Re: Effectiveness of Bear Bells? - 11/23/10 04:58 PM

just recently i heard that there have been mountain lion sightings in my local hiking park. WHAT?? there have been no postings -- most parks around this area post that there have been sightings-- or local newspaper coverage. i just recently have started hiking on the cattle trails again now that they are green and th esummer thorn bushes are gone and although they are not in a wooded area i would imagine that we would still be easily seen and could be taken out. i hope the fact that there are always cows and deer about,would make us "not worth it"... which area did the initial "dog" snatching happen? and were the wildlife officials able to confirm a cat sighting? oddly enough in the high sierras, where we usually do our summer hiking, fishing and camping, we have never seen a bear (have had a pack of coyotes come close) i dont mean to say theya re not there, just have never seen or smelled them. now, down in south lake tahoe, in some of the most populated areas, we have seen bears galore. never thought of using bear bells, but am thinking about it now....

Posted By: DianaB

Re: Effectiveness of Bear Bells? - 11/23/10 06:19 PM

This incident happened in Hayward, at Garin regional park (part of East Bay Regional Parks & Rec) about half a mile in from one of the entrances (not a main one, but one that has access off a residential street). The area was heavily wooded, although half of the park looks like your pics below and is out in the open. I have not seen anything on the news or reports about it specifically. It is, however a HUGE park.

We have, however, had multiple mountain lion sightings in the immediate area to the point last year there were two goats killed on a local ranch and one person was able to capture the lion in the brush just outside the home. At that time, because we are in the immediate vicinity of the park, we had a reverse 911 call from the local authorities with a warning to bring in the kids, etc. Of course, after the two goats, he was probably full and moved on.

I do know they are always around us, we just rarely see them. I think having the deer around is generally a good sign that the area is clear. In our area, the cattle move in for about half the year, then go somewhere else for the other half (where, I don't know). I think the cattle will be coming back now that it is winter.
Posted By: Cassidy's Mom

Re: Effectiveness of Bear Bells? - 11/24/10 02:14 AM

Oh wow, how horrible! I have heard of occasional mountain lion sightings in the regional parks. I would definitely be concerned about walking my dogs off leash in Garin after this incident. I wonder about walking at Chabot, especially if I'm out on the trails beyond the paved path by the lake. I do keep them on leash there because of all the poison oak, even though the trails are off leash under voice control. If either one of them saw a squirrel they'd be in the bushes before I could stop them, and while I could get them back they might be covered in poison oak, so we stay on leash. It's all good practice for leash skills anyway, and they get plenty of off leash exercise at Point Isabel or Fairmont Ridge.

I hope Richard is very careful now that this has already happened to one dog. I don't know if they would be so bold to attack with a human present (or attack a human, yikes!), but I sure wouldn't take that chance.
Posted By: Kayla's Dad

Re: Effectiveness of Bear Bells? - 11/25/10 04:39 AM

Thanks for the pm on this Diana. What you've describing sounds like another mountain lion episode. I remember the mountain lion sighting a while back at Garin. That was near the main entrance. Kayla and I have walked through the middle of a coyote pack coming around a blind corner on the north side of the park and seen a few wild boar and skunks. The pics below were taken at Garin near Zeile creek.





The turkey population boom has made the area a great food source for the green belt.

One of the things I have done is to carry my phone and play music on it while walking through the valleys and wood/creek parts of the park.

I don't use the Tamarack entrance though we have hiked up near to it. Know several folks who do however and will make sure they are aware of the circumstances.

BTW, the deer? Favorite food source for Mt Lion so do not let their population/presence lull you. As you indicated, a large a very diverse park.
Posted By: mspiker03

Re: Effectiveness of Bear Bells? - 11/29/10 02:27 AM

There was actually an article in the SF Chronicle today (Sunday) in the Insight section about Mountain Lions in the Bay Area.
Posted By: DianaB

Re: Effectiveness of Bear Bells? - 11/29/10 06:57 AM

I found the article very interesting. Thanks for mentioning it.
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/11/28/INF91GAE32.DTL
Posted By: Schnickle Fritz

Re: Effectiveness of Bear Bells? - 12/05/10 02:58 AM

well, my thoughts are that maybe if there are alot of deer or geese right exactly where i am , that a cougar is not ar0und?? man oh man,i walk in the park right above port costa alot. i have to say though, there is a sign right at the trailhead saying that there have been sightings so i guess a dead one on the tracks shouldnt be shocking...

i was surprised that we have otters in our little park lake...
Posted By: DianaB

Re: Effectiveness of Bear Bells? - 12/08/10 05:41 AM

Sorry, I've been away from this thread. I'm not sure what the right way to do this is. I am going to empower myself and at least talk to the ranger and get those recommendations. All these parks join at one point, it seems, and I just suspect we don't see half of what is going on.

I learned a bit more from an email that Woody's owner wrote about what conditions were like the morning Woody was attacked. I think it is good information for anyone hiking in the East Bay (or anywhere like this) to consider:

She wrote: "I have tried to be in touch with those who hike in Garin after several discussions with the rangers. There have been multiple sightings of the bigger cats in the last few months, even at Jordan pond.

The rangers would only have dogs off leash on nice sunny days when there are lots of people out. Mid morning to 4pm or so and on the trails where you have clear view on all sides which is tough sometimes.

The cats and coyotes follow the deer and they tend to be in the wooded area on the ridge trail where woody was killed. I have hiked in those skinny trails off the ridge above tamarack hundreds of times and never seen anything but that particular day it was raining and was the Sunday morning of the time change and at 8 am the animals were still hunting and no one was on the trail. I did see deer in there later when i was searching for woody's remains.

Rangers suggest walking with someone else as well. One of the rangers had a border collie who did the same thing - ran into a wooded area and was killed though they did find his remains up near the water tank.

I saw a very good warning poster about the dangers of dogs being off leash in certain areas at the Walnut Creek wide open space and that several dogs had been lost to coyotes. The rangers at Garin seem receptive to working with me on something similar so hopefully that will be woody's legacy.

I know in my heart he saved Harley's life and i doubt there will be a day i don't think of him for the rest of my life."
Posted By: Schnickle Fritz

Re: Effectiveness of Bear Bells? - 01/05/11 03:41 PM

i just saw on the news a mountain lion was spotted in the san mataeo area...
Posted By: Liv

Re: Effectiveness of Bear Bells? - 01/05/11 05:26 PM

I'm new on the board, so I know I'm jumping on an older thread, but we spend every weekend while it's reasonably warm enough (read not freezing, so May - end of Sept, beginning of Oct) camping in black bear, grizzly and cougar country. Kokoda always wore a bear bell, and we also carry bear bangers. The one time that we didn't have the bear banger outside, we had a bear running right up to our trailer and Kokoda took off after it (heart attack!!) and ran it off and came back right away. Do you guys have bear bangers down there? They are basically a pencil sized flare launcher that makes a very loud bang and you shoot the flare directly at the bear. They work really well for scaring off wildlife.
Posted By: Schnickle Fritz

Re: Effectiveness of Bear Bells? - 01/05/11 11:15 PM

i have never heard of bear bangers, but i am sure going to find out if we have them!!!
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