Saturday, June 30, 2007

Got bit because I didn't have my "bear repellent?"

Grizzly attacks, seriously wounds husband of former Montgomery Borough resident


A man with connections to Montgomery was seriously wounded, but is recovering from, an attack by a grizzly bear on June 13.

Dennis Van Denbos, 54, of Lander, Wyo., is married to Paula McCormick, a former Montgomery resident. He is the son-in-law of Delmar and Marion McCormick of Allenwood.

Van Denbos is a high school science and physical education teacher in Lander and was attending an educators’ conference at the lodge near where he was attacked.

While taking an early morning walk at Jackson Lake Lodge in Grand Teton National Park, Van Denbos suddenly found himself in the worst possible position — far too close to a sow grizzly and her cubs. The bear attacked, biting Van Denbos on his buttocks and back.

Now recovering from his wounds, he said he is lucky to be alive.

Contacted at his home by telephone last week, Van Denbos said the bear that attacked him was estimated at 350 pounds — small by grizzly standards, but still big enough to be deadly.

“I walked down a road close to the cabins at about 6 a.m.,” he said. “They call it the Wagon Road and it goes through a little draw and up to a bluff.”

On the way out, he saw a cow and calf moose and some elk as well. But, when he decided to come back the same way, his outing took a dramatic change for the worse.

“It was time for me to get back, so I turned around to head back up the road and saw a cow elk in the sagebrush running and acting erratically,” he said. “It ran down back at me and stopped and moved off to my right.”

When he turned again to head back to the lodge, Van Denbos suddenly found himself about 10 feet away from the sow grizzly, which was charging at him.

“I knew this was a really bad situation,” he said grimly.

“The attack was three bites. She came at me and decided not to take me. I was yelling and she moved to the side a little, then I dove to the side of the road away from her, pulled my arms up underneath me and she bit me in the back.”

He told the Wood River Journal, a Hailey, Idaho, newspaper that he was not thinking about pain during the attack but felt the power of the bites.

The two other bites followed while he played dead. Van Denbos said he was not aware how long the attack lasted.

People from nearby cabins, which were only 40 feet away, heard him yelling and also began yelling in an effort to distract the bear.

Van Denbos was rescued by Amy Gray, a recent high school graduate, who was driving a chuckwagon pickup truck up the road. She was on her way to cook breakfast for a horseback trail ride.

When Gray saw the bears, she slammed on the brakes of her truck, scaring the bears away from Van Denbos.

“I got up and walked to the truck and they said, ’Are you OK?’ ” Van Denbos said.

He got into the truck and immediately was attended to by a doctor from Montana who happened to be there.

Van Denbos was taken to St. John’s Medical Center in Jackson and later transferred to a hospital in Lander. He underwent surgery and now is recovering at home, although he still must receive regular treatments at the hospital to clean out the wounds he suffered.

The attack was the first bear attack in the Grand Teton since 2001. No action has been taken against the bear by wildlife officials and Van Denbos said he is not angry at the bear.

“She was just trying to make a living and raise a family,” he said. “She has gotten used to people and a lot of people have photos of her.”

Park officials have closed roads and trails off in that area as a precaution.

Van Denbos said he normally would have had bear repellent, which actually is a strong mace pepper spray, but did not on that occasion.

“I will definitely be carrying bear spray with me in bear country from now on,” he said.

Section: Posted: 7/1/2007

Sunday, June 24, 2007

HOT days and hot nights

Ok, so I trip down to Salt Lake to clean out my storage shed, and the weather is unseasonably HOT, Damn HOT. I'm standing in the shed at noon, feeling heat from all sides, it's a real oven, I should just bring my panini for lunch and crisp it a little. This is almost a repeat from last year, cleaning out the condo, a bit more dust and heat here. So far , about 40 boxes/bags to Deseret Industries, five to Salt Lake County Library, and about 25 to trash. I'm about 2/3 done as I write this.

Anyway, I should be around until the first week of July, then up to Wyoming to see if it's any cooler up there. Third week of August is the International Kite Festival in Washington State, I'll probably head up there again and down the Oregon Coast in September. I think I'll stay on the West Coast this year. (unless something comes up :o))

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Pepper Spray/Bear Spray WORKS

Here is another reason to have a canister of Pepper Spray around.

Only if the original link goes down, the article is reprinted in full below.

Jackson Hole Star Tribune/June 14, 2007

Bear spray can save your life


As a visitor to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, you're naturally curious about bears. You'd like to see bears, but not up close and personal -- that's more than a little scary -- especially after a Montana photographer recently got mauled in Yellowstone.

You'd like to do some hiking in and around Yellowstone, ranging from maybe half an hour's walk to a full day. Maybe you're more ambitious and plan on a backpacking trip.

You've heard that pepper spray is a good deterrent to bears, both black and grizzly. Heck, you already have a little key-chain canister of mace or pepper spray, so you're good to go, right?


A charging grizzly bear is not the same thing as a mugger on a street corner, or even a charging pit bull. A grizzly bear can weigh up to 1,000 pounds and outrun an Olympic sprinter, so you need a "bear" pepper spray deterrent that's up to the job.

The Sierra Club Grizzly Bear Project's Monica Fella said to make sure that the canister:

* Says the product is made for stopping or preventing bear attacks.

* Contains at least 7.9 ounces of spray.

* Contains 1-2 percent capsaicin/capsaicinoids.

* Can spray a minimum of 25 feet.

* Has a minimum spray duration of 6 seconds, and is EPA registered.

* Is immediately at hand in a belt or chest holster. It doesn't do any good in a knapsack.

Canisters smaller than this may not last long enough or spray far enough to stop a bear's charge.

Fella said she worries that visitors to bear country might rationalize the purchase of smaller canisters, when shopping for pepper spray.

"You really need the bigger canister," she said.

Unlike a gun, bear pepper spray does not have to be aimed precisely to stop a charging bear. The bear pepper spray makes a hanging fog in the air, and when the spray hits the bear, or visa versa, it causes immediate irritation in the eyes, nose, mouth, throat and lungs, temporarily disabling the bear. According to experts, there is no better way to stop an attack by an aggressive grizzly.

University of Calgary grizzly bear expert Stephen Herrero analyzed dozens of human-bear encounters and found bear pepper spray to be 94 percent effective in deterring aggressive bears.

Of course, bear pepper spray is not a substitute for staying alert and taking basic precautions. In the backcountry, hikers should exercise good judgment and follow recommended safety procedures, such as making noise and traveling in a group.

Bear pepper spray should only be used if you are charged by a bear. Point the canister toward the charging bear, slightly downward, and if possible, spray before the bear is within 30-40 feet. Do not use bear pepper spray to harass or chase animals out of your yard. Call your local wildlife management agency to assist you.

Fella said the Sierra Club is working with Idaho and Montana wildlife agencies to offer practice sessions with inert (no active ingredients) canisters of spray. Wyoming has long offered such practice sessions.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department allows people to practice spraying inert training canisters at the annual Hunting and Fishing Heritage Expo and offers demonstrations for community groups by special request. Mark Bruscino, leader of the department's bear team, said you don't want to practice with real bear pepper spray, because mistakes can be extremely unpleasant.

"We offer chances to practice at all our workshops," Bruscino said. Game wardens play the role of a charging grizzly bear. "Of course, that's when we really want to make sure that they're using an inert can," Bruscino said.

Gary Clutter, a big game hunter from Bozeman, had a face-to-face encounter with a grizzly while hunting a few years ago, and says bear spray saved him from a dire situation.

"I caught the bear (with bear pepper spray) full in the face when it was four feet away. It was like it hit a wall. The grizzly turned and ran so fast toward her cub she ran over it," Clutter said. "Then, cub and sow were gone. This worked exactly the way it was designed to work. The bears didn't die and all I'm out is a can of bear pepper spray."

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Stop and smell the ...


As I said in my June 16th, 2006 blog, sometimes we find the most beautiful things in our own backyard. The shots are from my mothers yard in Idaho.

These roses are called "Josephs Coat." The roses go through at least four distinct color changes and many shades in between.

Hint: Click on the photo and view it "full size"