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  1. #1

    Default SW VA ALERT - ATC recommends avoiding camping in Mt. Rogers High Country

    ALERT for A.T. hikers heading to the Mount Rogers/Grayson Highlands area of Southwest Virginia. Due to heightened bear activity, ATC recommends you avoid camping overnight between Elk Garden/VA-600 and Fox Creek/VA-603. This includes the three A.T. shelters in those 17 miles. Even visitors who stored their food properly have had close encounters with habituated bears. Land managers are evaluating options to mitigate the human-bear conflicts while also ensuring the public's safety. Please monitor ATC's Trail Updates page at www.appalachiantrail.org/updates for more information coming soon.

    Laurie Potteiger
    Appalachian Trail Conservancy

  2. #2

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    For those wondering which three shelters Laurie is talking about, it's Thomas Knob, Wise and Old Orchard shelters. In addition to bears in this case, Thomas Knob is also known for aggressive horses getting after people's food sometimes.
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    The more I think about it the more I consider a small bear container for my thru next year. Have always thought they'd be overkill on the AT, but I can see getting one as a possibility.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Crushed Grapes View Post
    The more I think about it the more I consider a small bear container for my thru next year. Have always thought they'd be overkill on the AT, but I can see getting one as a possibility.
    FWIW, earlier reports about bear activity in the area during June claimed that two BV450s were breached by bears using the same technique. That info is something like third-hand to me and I've never seen it corroborated elsewhere (not even pictures), so take that claim for what it's worth. It would be nice if the report wasn't true; all else being equal, I would prefer a Bear Vault to the heavier and opaque Garcia and vastly more expensive Bearikade. But if the bears have figured them out, I'd not likely rely on it, even if it was an acceptable design/model. In the places where canisters are required in nearby WNC (not on the AT, AFAIK, but elsewhere), it just talks about commercially-made, hard-sided containers. No models of such ruled in or out.

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    Still no guts to do whats right and close it .

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    Quote Originally Posted by MuddyWaters View Post
    Still no guts to do whats right and close it .
    Close Grayson Highlands State Park? This is not just occurring at AT shelters. A woman & her unleashed dog had an "encounter" with a bear in a parking lot. Campers just outside the park have also experienced bear interaction. There are 3 bears that regularly visit the horse camp on Laurel Valley/Fairwood Rd.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DownYonder View Post
    Close Grayson Highlands State Park? This is not just occurring at AT shelters. A woman & her unleashed dog had an "encounter" with a bear in a parking lot. Campers just outside the park have also experienced bear interaction. There are 3 bears that regularly visit the horse camp on Laurel Valley/Fairwood Rd.
    Yes
    Close affected areas fo months and allow bears to return to natural forage.

    Then institute limitations on people, and food storage to ensure it doesnt happen again.

    That is how you manage wildlife habitat if you care.

    Ive seen hundred + camped within 1/2 mi of thomas knob. Thats at least 5x too many by any measure.

    The management in place will ensure there is no wildlife in future. Morons.

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    i will be camping near rhodo gap soon. sleepin' with my food

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    Quote Originally Posted by MuddyWaters View Post
    Yes
    Close affected areas fo months and allow bears to return to natural forage.

    Then institute limitations on people, and food storage to ensure it doesnt happen again.

    That is how you manage wildlife habitat if you care.

    Ive seen hundred + camped within 1/2 mi of thomas knob. Thats at least 5x too many by any measure.

    The management in place will ensure there is no wildlife in future. Morons.
    So you essentially propose closing the VA & NC mountains. We have had 2 different bears visit our house this spring/summer....one raided our compost bin. Our neighbor had one on there front porch last year. My daughter had one in her trash can in Boone this spring.....guess we need to close Appalachian State University. Sorry man but they are everywhere in this area. Your approach will not work if you intend to ever let people back into the park at some point. There are humane non-lethal means to discourage bears and teach them that people = discomfort. The park should have employed them in the spring when this issue first developed.
    Last edited by DownYonder; 08-22-2018 at 20:31.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DownYonder View Post
    So you essentially propose closing the VA & NC mountains. We have had 2 different bears visit our house this spring/summer....one raided our compost bin. Our neighbor had one on there front porch last year. My daughter had one in her trash can in Boone this spring.....guess we need to close Appalachian State University. Sorry man but they are everywhere in this area. Your approach will not work if you intend to ever let people back into the park at some point. There are humane non-lethal means to discourage bears and teach them that people = discomfort. The park should have employed them in the spring when this issue first developed.
    If you put the bears of area ahead of people, that is how you do it.

    If you put people use of area ahead of bears, you dont.

    Politics and current management puts people first.

    Which is why we have no grizzly, mountain lion, wolves, bison, jaguars , black bears, left in the vast majority of their original habitat.

  11. #11

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    Black bears are not endangered and in many areas at or above management levels. Put in special game management zones in the area and let hunters do the work.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lone Wolf View Post
    i will be camping near rhodo gap soon. sleepin' with my food
    Funny, please report back and let us know who wins.

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    wins what?

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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    Black bears are not endangered and in many areas at or above management levels. Put in special game management zones in the area and let hunters do the work.
    Bears, and most other wildlife, have been extirpated from their habitat so people could have it without conflict.

    Endangerment, means little habitat left to support a species often.

    Two different things.

    As long as can have some bears , somewhere, its okay to reduce population to non-conflict #s here, is the basis of "management". Its simply putting people first.

    When too.much human.activity results in problems, the animals are blamedn for being "bad", and are removed, or eradicated, or #s lowered to non problem levels.
    Last edited by MuddyWaters; 08-23-2018 at 07:42.

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    About 5 weeks ago, I spoke to one of the members of Mt Rogers AT Club who has been involved in talks with the park management. At that time relocation was off the table....to expensive and the bears find their way back. The plan being discussed was to euthanize the problem bears. The next day I visited the park and tried to discuss the situation with one of the rangers. It was like pulling teeth but I did get him to say that they had no idea which bears were involved.

    While I agree with your general sentiment regarding human's selfish attitude towards wildlife, there are non-lethal means to teach the bears that human contact equals pain. Simply closing the park is a temporary fix. They will return next spring and the cycle will sadly begin yet again.
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  16. #16

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    I expect its fundamental philosophical issue on whether wildlife should be managed. I tend to agree with the management approach as the alternative is for it be unmanaged and then end up with the problem listed in the original post. It also requires people management. BSP used to have significant bear issues in the backcountry, they managed the campers by forcing them to use bear lines. The problems went away as the bears didn't get rewarded. Rarely do they have an issue with the backcountry sites but do on occasion have issues at the front country sites where the control of the campers is less while the potential food rewards are greater. Unfortunately that doesn't work well in a large unregulated public park. Bears don't get habituated to human food unless they are rewarded repeatedly and it appears that they have been in that area. Unfortunately I expect the resistance by the public to having to camps at designated locations and possibly have to pay for that privilege to have someone manage the site by managing the campers is going to be high. Ultimately it will just reinforce the so called "stealth" campers. Truck and trapping bears reportedly does not work and ultimately is cruel to the bear as inevitably the bear is dumped in an area with an established bear population. The intruder is generally chased out and frequently will travel long distances to their former location or become a nuisance in new location.



    Quote Originally Posted by MuddyWaters View Post
    Bears, and most other wildlife, have been extirpated from their habitat so people could have it without conflict.

    Endangerment, means little habitat left to support a species often.

    Two different things.

    As long as can have some bears , somewhere, its okay to reduce population to non-conflict #s here, is the basis of "management". Its simply putting people first.

    When too.much human.activity results in problems, the animals are blamedn for being "bad", and are removed, or eradicated, or #s lowered to non problem levels.

  17. #17

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    What ever happened to the policy of relocating "problem" bears to a different location void of human interaction?
    They don't do that anymore?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Five Tango View Post
    What ever happened to the policy of relocating "problem" bears to a different location void of human interaction?
    They don't do that anymore?
    Quote Originally Posted by DownYonder View Post
    ... At that time relocation was off the table....to expensive and the bears find their way back.
    1234567890

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    Quote Originally Posted by wolfywolfy View Post
    Funny, please report back and let us know who wins.
    "but I've been doing it for 80 years"

  20. #20

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    I walked around the Grayson Highlands 3 weeks ago.

    Friday night about 11 pm hiked up from Elk Garden to Briers Ridge with a headlamp that crap the bed, saw 2 bears on that hike. No problems at Briers ridge

    Sat night stayed at the campsite on the pine mountain trail - No problems.

    Slept with food both nights
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