No Charges in Bear Cub Death

10 views
Skip to first unread message

rbtarn

unread,
Oct 1, 1996, 3:00:00 AM10/1/96
to

From clari.local.california.southern.misc:

"YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif., Sept. 30 (UPI) -- An investigation
has failed to turn up enough evidence to press charges against two
Southern California Boy Scout leaders whose troop [accidentally killed
a bear cub] in Yosemite National Park, officials announced Monday.
The incident occurred on Aug. 12 when a group of Scouts from
Huntington Beach, Calif., were roused from their sleep by a 100-pound
black bear yearling scavenging for food. "

Reason prevails!


Bob Tarn
Scoutmaster, Troop 745
Westlake Village, CA

"[The Boy Scout Movement] speaks to every heart its message
of duty and honour: 'Be Prepared' to stand up faithfully for
Right and Truth, however the winds may blow."
- Sir Winston Churchill


Wayne Johnson

unread,
Oct 1, 1996, 3:00:00 AM10/1/96
to

rbt...@ix.netcom.com (rbtarn) wrote:

>From clari.local.california.southern.misc:

>"YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif., Sept. 30 (UPI) -- An investigation
>has failed to turn up enough evidence to press charges against two
>Southern California Boy Scout leaders whose troop [accidentally killed
>a bear cub] in Yosemite National Park, officials announced Monday.
> The incident occurred on Aug. 12 when a group of Scouts from
>Huntington Beach, Calif., were roused from their sleep by a 100-pound
>black bear yearling scavenging for food. "

>Reason prevails!

Huh?

I don't think either the Scoutmaster, or the kids, should have done
jail time for this incident; on the other hand, somebody, somehow,
forgot the motto.

Last I heard, these kids:
-Had not been attacked
-Had not properly stored their food
-Had not been briefed on how to deal with bears
-Did not know when to quit stoning the animal
-Went into a "frenzy of fear" when killing the bear

Now, on their side, the bear was supposedly aggressive, and was
raising a ruckus to get some food. Still, this incident strikes me as
being a little crazy.

I've camped in Yosemite many times, since the late 1960's, and bears
are part of the landscape. Although I'm not familiar with all of the
incidents at that park, I know that killing troublesome bears is not
commonplace; I only know of two in all those years, and those were
much older animals.

First, the idea that a Scoutmaster would allow the kids to start
stoning the beast is incredible. A 100 pound bear might have a momma
nearby, and momma is not going to pay ANY attention to ANY rock a
Scout might pick up.

If her cub was threatened, she wouldn't pay any attention to a rock
Arnold Schwarzennegger could pick up.

Second, there had to be a point where the cub was incapacitated. This
cub was actually stoned to death, not into submission or
unconsciousness; this indicates excess on somebody's part, though not
being there, I don't know how this could have been determined. Schock
alone might have killed the cub - or it could have been weakened by
hunger or illness. Odd that the mother wasn't around.

Still, I know of many troops who have enjoyed Yosemite, and dealt with
marauding bears, with nary a fatality on either side. For me, this
incident - and it's conclusion - don't have much "reasoning" going on
at all.

Everyone from that troop needs a long lesson in fundamentals before
they are allowed to leave the local city park.

Wayne Johnson, ASM
Troop 162, Sylmar, CA
cia...@ix.netcom.com


"The biggest compromise is in having to continually explain the obvious to the uninformed." -Bittersweet


Gregory E. Ruhl

unread,
Oct 1, 1996, 3:00:00 AM10/1/96
to

In article <52qdd1$g...@dfw-ixnews3.ix.netcom.com>, cia...@popd.ix.netcom.com (Wayne Johnson) wrote:

>Last I heard, these kids:
>-Had not been attacked
>-Had not properly stored their food
>-Had not been briefed on how to deal with bears
>-Did not know when to quit stoning the animal
>-Went into a "frenzy of fear" when killing the bear

Most of this is incorrect. Where did you get these facts? Or is this based
on internet gossip? Here is my quick summary of the AP wire account...

All the food had not been put away because the supplied bear boxes were not
large enough. The scouts were all asleep and the two leaders heard bears just
outside the campsite. Following NPS guidelines, they started throwing rocks
at the bears (which they could not see). After a few tosses, they heard a
'sickening thud'. The next morning the dead bear cub was found. The scouts
were obviously upset. They adults had evidently been briefed by rangers in
the area and had read the NPS brochure. (both advocated tossing rocks to
scare away bears)


>First, the idea that a Scoutmaster would allow the kids to start
>stoning the beast is incredible.

The adults were the only ones awake and they were following prescribed NPS
guidelines.


>Second, there had to be a point where the cub was incapacitated. This
>cub was actually stoned to death, not into submission or
>unconsciousness; this indicates excess on somebody's part, though not
>being there, I don't know how this could have been determined.

A rock to the side of the head could easily drive skull fragments into the
brain.

>Everyone from that troop needs a long lesson in fundamentals before
>they are allowed to leave the local city park.

True. The troop was obviously unprepared for the trip. (lack of bear
cannisters, etc.) To read more on this discussion, try backposts of
rec.backcountry. You'll also see why some of the scouters here might be upset
at your misrepresentation of the facts. (Hitler youth thread, etc.)


Greg


Gregory E. Ruhl
Georgia Institute of Technology
gt8...@prism.gatech.edu

Neil Savage

unread,
Oct 1, 1996, 3:00:00 AM10/1/96
to
(Wayne Johnson) writes...

>First, the idea that a Scoutmaster would allow the kids to start
>stoning the beast is incredible. A 100 pound bear might have a momma
>nearby, and momma is not going to pay ANY attention to ANY rock a
>Scout might pick up.
>

I've already strongly expressed my consternation regarding this
incident, so I'm not going to go down THAT road again, except to
say that I totally concur in my opinion with Wayne's. What the
troop's leaders did was very, very WRONG!

It might be stretching it a bit to refer to a 100-pound yearing as
a 'cub' According to Professor E. Lawrence Palmer ("Field Book of
Natural History" ) the weight of a fully-grown black bear runs to
300 pounds. Mother black bears normally give birth in mid to late
winter and the cubs stay with the mother until at least the following
autumn. So this bear would have been with the mother only if it were
the young of the year (about 6 months old). Otherwise, it would have
been likely more than a year old (about 18 months) and at 100 pounds
perhaps a bit underweight (in need of nourishment).

I wonder if anyone has any details on the bear from a range manager
game warden, or other wildlife expert's point of view.

neil

Alan Houser

unread,
Oct 1, 1996, 3:00:00 AM10/1/96
to

Wayne Johnson (cia...@popd.ix.netcom.com) wrote:
: rbt...@ix.netcom.com (rbtarn) wrote:

: >From clari.local.california.southern.misc:

: >"YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif., Sept. 30 (UPI) -- An investigation
: >has failed to turn up enough evidence to press charges against two
: >Southern California Boy Scout leaders whose troop [accidentally killed
: >a bear cub] in Yosemite National Park, officials announced Monday.
: > The incident occurred on Aug. 12 when a group of Scouts from
: >Huntington Beach, Calif., were roused from their sleep by a 100-pound
: >black bear yearling scavenging for food. "

: >Reason prevails!

: Huh?

: I don't think either the Scoutmaster, or the kids, should have done
: jail time for this incident; on the other hand, somebody, somehow,
: forgot the motto.

: Last I heard, these kids:
: -Had not been attacked

Agreed.

: -Had not properly stored their food

Agreed.

: -Had not been briefed on how to deal with bears

Not sure about that. The NPS literature said throw things at them.
The leaders reported they were doing just what NPS said to do.

: -Did not know when to quit stoning the animal

Huh?
Last I heard, the Scouts never threw a stone. It was the leaders.
And apparently, the NPS did not find evidence of anything other
than what the leaders reported in the press, that the two of them
had thrown no more than a couple rocks apiece. Perhaps you have
more information that wasn't made public?

: -Went into a "frenzy of fear" when killing the bear

See above. I saw no report of such.

: First, the idea that a Scoutmaster would allow the kids to start


: stoning the beast is incredible. A 100 pound bear might have a momma
: nearby, and momma is not going to pay ANY attention to ANY rock a
: Scout might pick up.

See above. I saw no report the Scouts had thrown anything.

: If her cub was threatened, she wouldn't pay any attention to a rock


: Arnold Schwarzennegger could pick up.

: Second, there had to be a point where the cub was incapacitated. This


: cub was actually stoned to death, not into submission or
: unconsciousness; this indicates excess on somebody's part, though not

: being there, I don't know how this could have been determined. Schock


: alone might have killed the cub - or it could have been weakened by
: hunger or illness. Odd that the mother wasn't around.

Of course, YOU would walk over there in the dark toward a bear of
unknown size who might have a somewhat larger momma bear sitting
nearby see if you had injured it. I certainly wouldn't send one of
my Scouts, and I'm not sure that I'd go over there myself until the
light of morning, which is what the leaders did.

: Still, I know of many troops who have enjoyed Yosemite, and dealt with


: marauding bears, with nary a fatality on either side. For me, this
: incident - and it's conclusion - don't have much "reasoning" going on
: at all.

: Everyone from that troop needs a long lesson in fundamentals before


: they are allowed to leave the local city park.

Everyone who goes into the backcountry needs that lesson.

And because of the visibility of the Scouts, every Scout leader needs
to take the high adventure training courses to take Scouts into the
backcountry. If your council doesn't offer it, take it in another
council, or start it up. This incident illustrated just how many folks
out there are waiting to bash Scouting based on a few folks not knowing
what to do.

Much of the bashing came from folks that read their own prejudices
into the news reports and accused the Scouts of stoning the bear to
death and the frenzy of fear, neither of which I saw in any report
either published or quoted at length in rec.backcountry. You should
try the telephone game in your troop sometime to illustrate the
power of the (mis-)spoken word in creating rumors.


Alan R. Houser ** Scoutmaster, Berkeley Troop 24 ** tro...@emf.net
** WWW page ** http://www.emf.net/~troop24/t24.html **
Scoutmaster, Mt. Diablo Silverado Council Contingent Jamboree Troop #3

Neil Savage

unread,
Oct 1, 1996, 3:00:00 AM10/1/96
to

In article <52rc11$5...@catapult.gatech.edu>, gt8...@prism.gatech.edu
(Gregory E. Ruhl) writes...

>They adults had evidently been briefed by rangers in
>the area and had read the NPS brochure. (both advocated tossing rocks to
>scare away bears)
>
Personally, I don't find this very credible. I give the folks to whom
we tax-payers entrust the care of our national natural resources more
credit for brains that this account would allow. Doesn't everyone get it?
You simply DO NOT throw rocks at noises in the dark -- no matter how
suspicious these noises seem to be.

>A rock to the side of the head could easily drive skull fragments into the
>brain.
>

Which is as good a reason as any to institute a reasoned approach to
participating in backcountry outings - beginning with the admonishment
"NO ROCK-THROWING ANYWHERE OR AT ANYTIME!!"

Sheesh.

- neil

Wayne Johnson

unread,
Oct 1, 1996, 3:00:00 AM10/1/96
to

gt8...@prism.gatech.edu (Gregory E. Ruhl) wrote:

>In article <52qdd1$g...@dfw-ixnews3.ix.netcom.com>, cia...@popd.ix.netcom.com (Wayne Johnson) wrote:

>>Last I heard, these kids:
>>-Had not been attacked

>>-Had not properly stored their food

>>-Had not been briefed on how to deal with bears

>>-Did not know when to quit stoning the animal

>>-Went into a "frenzy of fear" when killing the bear

>Most of this is incorrect. Where did you get these facts? Or is this based

>on internet gossip? Here is my quick summary of the AP wire account...

I read an article in the Los Angeles Times, two days after the event.

>All the food had not been put away because the supplied bear boxes were not
>large enough. The scouts were all asleep and the two leaders heard bears just
>outside the campsite. Following NPS guidelines, they started throwing rocks
>at the bears (which they could not see). After a few tosses, they heard a
>'sickening thud'. The next morning the dead bear cub was found. The scouts

>were obviously upset. They adults had evidently been briefed by rangers in

>the area and had read the NPS brochure. (both advocated tossing rocks to
>scare away bears)

They do NOT advocate hitting the bears! The brochure advocates that
loud noises be made, and that a designated person or persons becomes
an aggressor to toss stones, pound sticks, and otherwise make a
"display" to the animal.

Common sense tells you that NO ONE takes on a bear with a rock!

>>First, the idea that a Scoutmaster would allow the kids to start
>>stoning the beast is incredible.

>The adults were the only ones awake and they were following prescribed NPS
>guidelines.

This differs from the account I read; in this account, the rangers
(admittedly still investigating the incident at this time) said that
the entire troop had participated in the stoning.

>>Second, there had to be a point where the cub was incapacitated. This
>>cub was actually stoned to death, not into submission or
>>unconsciousness; this indicates excess on somebody's part, though not
>>being there, I don't know how this could have been determined.

>A rock to the side of the head could easily drive skull fragments into the
>brain.

True.

>>Everyone from that troop needs a long lesson in fundamentals before
>>they are allowed to leave the local city park.

>True. The troop was obviously unprepared for the trip. (lack of bear

>cannisters, etc.) To read more on this discussion, try backposts of
>rec.backcountry. You'll also see why some of the scouters here might be upset
>at your misrepresentation of the facts. (Hitler youth thread, etc.)

I'm going by newspaper accounts at the time; I haven't followed the
story through to it's conclusion, but I certainly did not intend to
misrepresent the facts. While I give any adults who take on the
awesome responsibility of protecting the lives of other people's
children the benefit of the doubt, it seemed (and seems) to me that
this was not done in this case; the results could have been far
different, and tragic.

Wayne Johnson

unread,
Oct 1, 1996, 3:00:00 AM10/1/96
to

tro...@emf.net (Alan Houser) wrote:

>Wayne Johnson (cia...@popd.ix.netcom.com) wrote:

>: I don't think either the Scoutmaster, or the kids, should have done
>: jail time for this incident; on the other hand, somebody, somehow,
>: forgot the motto.

>: Last I heard, these kids:
>: -Had not been attacked

>Agreed.

>: -Had not properly stored their food

>Agreed.

>: -Had not been briefed on how to deal with bears

>Not sure about that. The NPS literature said throw things at them.
>The leaders reported they were doing just what NPS said to do.

The literature says that a display should be made, including noise and
aggressive actions, such as throwing rocks AT them, but not ATTACKING
the bear with a rock; hitting a bear with a stone is potential
suicide.

>: -Did not know when to quit stoning the animal

>Huh?
>Last I heard, the Scouts never threw a stone. It was the leaders.
>And apparently, the NPS did not find evidence of anything other
>than what the leaders reported in the press, that the two of them
>had thrown no more than a couple rocks apiece. Perhaps you have
>more information that wasn't made public?

As I noted in another response, I read a story in the Los Angeles
Times two days after the event. This story has evolved since then; at
the time, a ranger was quoted as saying that the entire troop spent
several minutes stoning the animal.

>: -Went into a "frenzy of fear" when killing the bear

>See above. I saw no report of such.

The Daily News, another Los Angeles paper, said as much.

>: First, the idea that a Scoutmaster would allow the kids to start
>: stoning the beast is incredible. A 100 pound bear might have a momma
>: nearby, and momma is not going to pay ANY attention to ANY rock a
>: Scout might pick up.

>See above. I saw no report the Scouts had thrown anything.

>: If her cub was threatened, she wouldn't pay any attention to a rock
>: Arnold Schwarzennegger could pick up.

>: Second, there had to be a point where the cub was incapacitated. This


>: cub was actually stoned to death, not into submission or
>: unconsciousness; this indicates excess on somebody's part, though not

>: being there, I don't know how this could have been determined. Schock
>: alone might have killed the cub - or it could have been weakened by
>: hunger or illness. Odd that the mother wasn't around.

>Of course, YOU would walk over there in the dark toward a bear of
>unknown size who might have a somewhat larger momma bear sitting
>nearby see if you had injured it. I certainly wouldn't send one of
>my Scouts, and I'm not sure that I'd go over there myself until the
>light of morning, which is what the leaders did.

No way would I do any such thing; on the other hand, no way would I
assume that I could clobber a bear with anything less than a .44 with
hot loads, either.

>: Still, I know of many troops who have enjoyed Yosemite, and dealt with
>: marauding bears, with nary a fatality on either side. For me, this
>: incident - and it's conclusion - don't have much "reasoning" going on
>: at all.

>: Everyone from that troop needs a long lesson in fundamentals before


>: they are allowed to leave the local city park.

>Everyone who goes into the backcountry needs that lesson.

>And because of the visibility of the Scouts, every Scout leader needs
>to take the high adventure training courses to take Scouts into the
>backcountry. If your council doesn't offer it, take it in another
>council, or start it up. This incident illustrated just how many folks
>out there are waiting to bash Scouting based on a few folks not knowing
>what to do.

I share no such paranoia about Scouting; it could have been a band of
German tourists, and the reaction would have been the same. The irony
is that these Scouts simply weren't prepared, which is our motto, and
if they get criticized for it, it is only correct.

I take a canned air horn with me to Yosemite; the type used on boats.
Sounds like a Diesel truck horn. Weighs about 6 ounces. Bears are
impressed. Cost me $16.

Our Tenderfoots are all required to take Camping and Wilderness
Survival at summer camp; all know how to protect food, and how not to
keep food in their sleeping bags, clothing, etc. This is enforced by
the leadership constantly.

This troop did not take the proper precautions. While I am not
weeping over the loss of the bear (it's sad, but almost beside the
point), I'm bothered by the terrible chances that were taken with the
safety of these Scouts; zinging stones at a bear, in the dark, could
have gotten more than one of them killed. It's crazy.

>Much of the bashing came from folks that read their own prejudices
>into the news reports and accused the Scouts of stoning the bear to
>death and the frenzy of fear, neither of which I saw in any report
>either published or quoted at length in rec.backcountry. You should
>try the telephone game in your troop sometime to illustrate the
>power of the (mis-)spoken word in creating rumors.

I'll stay away from the newspapers, too.

More important is the idea that there was no better reaction to this
problem than the one that was taken. Anyone can make a mistake, and I
have no doubt that the men involved did the best they could at the
time; but the motto is always there, hanging in front of their faces,
and I think we can agree that it wasn't followed in this case.

Someone dropped the ball, and that's a no no when we are responsible
for the lives of children. If my prejudices got the better of me,
that's the reason.

Louie Escober

unread,
Oct 1, 1996, 3:00:00 AM10/1/96
to

The story as it appears in the San Francisco Chronicle appears to be more
complete than the versions that have been posted here. (typos and mistakes
are mine)

San Francisco Chronicle, October 1, 1996
by Steve Rubenstein, Chronicle Staff Writer

Southern California Boy Scout leaders will not be prosecuted for
throwing rocks and killing a black bear in a Yosemite National Park
campground, the park service said yesterday.

A park spokesman said there was "insufficient evidence" to prove that
the August 12 killing was other than accidental.

"We still feel the Boy Scouts did it, but we believe that they thought
they were doing what they were told to do, to scare the bear away," said
park ranger Scott Gediman.

The 100-pound bear, believed to be a year old, died in a backcountry
campground in Little Yosemite Valley. Scout leaders from a Huntington
Beach troop told rangers they had thrown softball-size rocks to scare the
bear, which had been attracted to the campsite by improperly stored food.

Gediman said the bear carcass was transported to an out-of-state
veterinary laboratory for autopsy. The lab found "only soft tissue damage
and no evidence of a skull fracture," Gediman said.

Rangers said they would rewrite park guidelines to recommend that only
"golf ball-size or smaller" rocks be thrown at troublesome bears. The
rocks may not be thrown to harm bears but only to "provide negative
reinforcement," Gediman said.

"We did what the brochure told us. We started throwing things and
making a lot of noise," Scout leader Ron Roach told reporters at the time.
"We threw (stones) at the bear and one of the stones made a thud. It was a
pretty sickening sound, and I said, 'oh no, I think I hit one.'"

Roach and another Scout leader reportedly accepted a park service
invitation to attend a three-day Yosemite workshop later this year on
backcountry safety and wildlife conservation.

"We are very disturbed that this incident occurred," chief ranger Bob
Andrew said. "The goal of the park's human-bear management program is to
protect black bear, allowing them to live in as natural a condition as
possible. Every effort will be made to prevent such an occurrence from
happening again."

Just to clear up some misunderstandings:

1) The original report in the San Francisco Chronicle mentioned that the
Boy Scouts had been briefed and read the brochure that they should throw
rocks for negative reinforcement. If you check the Yosemite Park website's
section on dealing with bears, you can read it there.

Also, only two rocks were thrown, both by the Scout Leaders and not the
scouts. Again, this report from the S.F. Chronicle and S.F. Examiner. You
can check the stories at www.sfgate.com. August 18, 1996, S.F. Examiner
seems to have the most stories.

2) From what I understand, at approximately a year old, the bear leaves
its mother and is on its own. So, this bear was going solo.

I certainly do not condone or defend the actions of the Scout Leaders,
but then I don't feel they should be as strongly condemned as they have
been. It was an accident. Improperly storing food, throwing blindly and
throwing rocks too large for the situation were their mistakes. They had
read the NPS guidelines on what to do, and were following them as far as
they knew. Even the NPS admits the documentation should have been better.


I agree with other posters that High Adventure Training needs to be
taken by more leaders going into the backcountry. Heck, I think anybody
going into the backcountry should have extensive training. However, in
this incident, it appears that the killing was unintentional and that there
was a misunderstanding regarding the proper procedures in dealing with
aggressive bears. In any case, we can take this as a lesson learned, and
make sure it doesn't happen again.

--
Louie Escober

rbtarn

unread,
Oct 2, 1996, 3:00:00 AM10/2/96
to

Wayne,

I must tell you that the Los Angeles Times is GARBAGE.

rbtarn

unread,
Oct 2, 1996, 3:00:00 AM10/2/96
to

Neil,

I've seen the NPS brochures. I've seen the website. They recommend
throwing rocks at bears. Sorry.

rbtarn

unread,
Oct 2, 1996, 3:00:00 AM10/2/96
to

Wayne,

I respect your opinions, but not your choice in newspaper. The Los
Angeles Times? Ughh! You may as well read the Inquirer! Why don't
you subscribe to the Daily News? It's not as liberally biased.

Wayne Johnson

unread,
Oct 2, 1996, 3:00:00 AM10/2/96
to

rbt...@ix.netcom.com (rbtarn) wrote:

>Wayne,

>I must tell you that the Los Angeles Times is GARBAGE.

Well, I DO recycle it...

And the rabbit LOVES the editorial page. It's on the bottom of her
cage every day. But I don't know her politics; she poops on Column
Left AND Column Right.

Must be a moderate.

Wayne Johnson

unread,
Oct 2, 1996, 3:00:00 AM10/2/96
to

rbt...@ix.netcom.com (rbtarn) wrote:

>Wayne,

>I respect your opinions, but not your choice in newspaper. The Los


>Angeles Times? Ughh! You may as well read the Inquirer! Why don't
>you subscribe to the Daily News? It's not as liberally biased.

I read them both, when I have the time.

Wayne Johnson

unread,
Oct 2, 1996, 3:00:00 AM10/2/96
to

rbt...@ix.netcom.com (rbtarn) wrote:

>Neil,

>I've seen the NPS brochures. I've seen the website. They recommend
>throwing rocks at bears. Sorry.

For display, Bob, not dispatch.

Gregory E. Ruhl

unread,
Oct 2, 1996, 3:00:00 AM10/2/96
to

In article <52rnhs$m...@dfw-ixnews5.ix.netcom.com>, cia...@popd.ix.netcom.com (Wayne Johnson) wrote:
>tro...@emf.net (Alan Houser) wrote:

>The literature says that a display should be made, including noise and
>aggressive actions, such as throwing rocks AT them, but not ATTACKING
>the bear with a rock; hitting a bear with a stone is potential
>suicide.

I don't think anyone here is saying that hitting a bear with a rock is a smart
/ good idea. However, the wording of the NPS guidelines seem to encourage
throwing AT the bears. The NPS seems to be taking corrective steps according
to the posted news article.

>I share no such paranoia about Scouting; it could have been a band of
>German tourists, and the reaction would have been the same.

I think you would be surprised. The amount of anti-scouting sentiment
displayed in various 'outdoor' newsgroups is staggering.

Neil Savage

unread,
Oct 2, 1996, 3:00:00 AM10/2/96
to

In article <escol-ya02318000...@nntp.best.com>, es...@best.com
(Louie Escober) writes...

> Rangers said they would rewrite park guidelines to recommend that only
>"golf ball-size or smaller" rocks be thrown at troublesome bears. The
>rocks may not be thrown to harm bears but only to "provide negative
>reinforcement," Gediman said.

Thanks, Louie.

Golf ball size is still not acceptable, IMO, it should read "pea-size
or smaller" (specify pebbles but definitely NOT use the word 'rock' or
'stone' in any NPS literature, connected with the word "throw").

If you are going to throw something golf-ball size at a wild animal, it
had better have a density considerably lower than a golf-ball would.
Soft wood, aluminum soft drink cans, or cardboard cartons maybe.

Personally, I like the air-horn idea but the high-pitched human voice
should be almost as effective.

The actions need to be regarded (judged by the poor beast) as DEFENSIVE
in nature, not openly aggressive and attacking.

This seems like common sense to me, but (as they say) the odd thing about
common sense is that it is sooo UNcommon these days.

- neil (animal lover, environmental activist, teacher and Scout trainer)

Jim Miller Sr.

unread,
Oct 2, 1996, 3:00:00 AM10/2/96
to
Neil,

I quote from the Yosemite home page of the National Park Service:

"It is important to make bears unwelcome in camp. If a black bear approaches, act immediately to scare it away. Yell and make as much noise as possible. Throw rocks or pine cones toward the bear. Make more noise. You may need to do this more than once, but the more vigorously you do it the first time, the less likely the need to repeat this behavior."

You can find this yourself at:

http://www.nps.gov/yose/wsafety.htm

YIS
JJMSr
----------
From: Neil Savage
Sent: Tuesday, October 01, 1996 12:19 PM
To: Jim Miller Jr.; Jim Miller Sr.; rec.scouting.usa
Subject: Re: No Charges in Bear Cub Death

In article <52rc11$5...@catapult.gatech.edu>, gt8...@prism.gatech.edu
(Gregory E. Ruhl) writes...

>They adults had evidently been briefed by rangers in
>the area and had read the NPS brochure. (both advocated tossing rocks to
>scare away bears)
>

Personally, I don't find this very credible. I give the folks to whom
we tax-payers entrust the care of our national natural resources more
credit for brains that this account would allow. Doesn't everyone get it?
You simply DO NOT throw rocks at noises in the dark -- no matter how
suspicious these noises seem to be.

>A rock to the side of the head could easily drive skull fragments into the
>brain.
>

Which is as good a reason as any to institute a reasoned approach to


participating in backcountry outings - beginning with the admonishment
"NO ROCK-THROWING ANYWHERE OR AT ANYTIME!!"

Sheesh.

- neil

James J. Miller, Sr. <JJ...@lsfcu.org>
President, Liberty Savings Federal Credit Union

Your Real Name

unread,
Oct 2, 1996, 3:00:00 AM10/2/96
to

In article <52rbv5$m...@nntpd.lkg.dec.com> sav...@tle.enet.dec.com (Neil Savage) writes:
>From: sav...@tle.enet.dec.com (Neil Savage)

>Subject: Re: No Charges in Bear Cub Death
>Date: 1 OCT 96 10:47:29 EST

>(Wayne Johnson) writes...


>>First, the idea that a Scoutmaster would allow the kids to start
>>stoning the beast is incredible. A 100 pound bear might have a momma
>>nearby, and momma is not going to pay ANY attention to ANY rock a
>>Scout might pick up.
>>

> I've already strongly expressed my consternation regarding this

> incident, so I'm not going to go down THAT road again, except to
> say that I totally concur in my opinion with Wayne's. What the
> troop's leaders did was very, very WRONG!

People who don't know the facts should not respond. The SCOUTS did not throw
the stones at the bears...THE ADULT LEADERS did! Furthermore, they were
following the recommendations of the National Park Service, to throw sticks
and stones to scare the bears away. Unfortunately for all, especially the
bear, the Park Service did not specify baseball-sized rocks, golfball-sized
rocks, etc. The rocks these gentlemen threw were larger than they needed to be,
but that was not their fault, as the Courts have decided. The whole thing is
an unfortunate incident that most likely could have been prevented, but, in my
humble opinion, it is better that the bear died than a Scout. Flame away!

Yours in Scouting,
Jim Peterson

Wayne Johnson

unread,
Oct 3, 1996, 3:00:00 AM10/3/96
to

your...@tznet.com (Your Real Name) wrote:

>The whole thing is an unfortunate incident that most likely could have
>been prevented, but, in my humble opinion, it is better that the bear
>died than a Scout.

Dern right.

Neil Savage

unread,
Oct 4, 1996, 3:00:00 AM10/4/96
to

In article <DynLI...@news2.new-york.net>, Jim Miller Sr.
<jj...@lsfcu.org> writes...

>I quote from the Yosemite home page of the National Park Service:

Two points: 1) I'm relieved at reports that the NPS has realized that
(as a result of this unfortunate incident) they badly need to clarify
the language used.

2) This only reinforces the need to use one's own sound judgement when
reading and interpreting someone elses 'instructions. The NPS never
intended that, when confronted with a wild creature, visitors should
throw any object that could in any way inflict serious injury.
Severely injuring, maiming, or killing wildlife is in direct violation
of park rules.

This troop clearly violated all the rules of decent backcountry behavior.
That they escaped discipinary action was simply at the discretion of park
officials. If the NPS had instead decided to 'make an example' of the
deplorable actions taken by this Scout troop I for one would have
heartily approved.

The backwoods is not a place for stupid and ill-prepared folks - I don't
care who they are or what organization they represent. This was a
shameful embarassment for the BSA.

- neil

Mike

unread,
Oct 6, 1996, 3:00:00 AM10/6/96
to

Are we going to travel this road again? Didn't we beat a dead horse enough
last time? Let's just see how long we can rehash the same arguments.
Not that I want to discourage a good discussion, but everyone has their
own opinion on this issue, and no amount of posting, and flaming and
arguing is going to change this.

Let's not concentrate on who's guilty, who should get locked up, who's a
good scout and not. Instead let's concentrate on how we can help this
unfortunate incedent from happening to another group. Let's work together
to help each other, not against each other. Let's set good examples for
the scouts we are leading.

--
----
Michael Iliff
mr...@daka.com
<<aspiring author, philosopher, psychologist and human being...>>

Mike

unread,
Oct 6, 1996, 3:00:00 AM10/6/96
to


> sav...@tle.enet.dec.com (Neil Savage) wrote in article
<52rgq5$2...@nntpd.lkg.dec.com>...


> In article <52rc11$5...@catapult.gatech.edu>, gt8...@prism.gatech.edu
> (Gregory E. Ruhl) writes...
> >They adults had evidently been briefed by rangers in
> >the area and had read the NPS brochure. (both advocated tossing rocks
to
> >scare away bears)
> >
> Personally, I don't find this very credible. I give the folks to whom
> we tax-payers entrust the care of our national natural resources more
> credit for brains that this account would allow. Doesn't everyone get
it?
> You simply DO NOT throw rocks at noises in the dark -- no matter how
> suspicious these noises seem to be.
>

And don't you get it? Not everyone has the mental capacity that you have.
Some people don't think like you, and simply do what their told. In the
military if you question authority, you get sent to jail. (and before
anyone says anything about scouts not being the military, calm down I
know. It is an example.)
The fact remains that they were instructed to follow the park guidelines,
and did so. Whether or not it was a correct course of action, is moot. The
park service made the error, and is correcting it. Perhaps it should say
no rocks, period. But it didn't at the time and that's what we have to go
on.


> >A rock to the side of the head could easily drive skull fragments into
the
> >brain.
> >
>
> Which is as good a reason as any to institute a reasoned approach to
> participating in backcountry outings - beginning with the admonishment
> "NO ROCK-THROWING ANYWHERE OR AT ANYTIME!!"
>
> Sheesh.
>
> - neil
>

Sheesh yourself. You are obviously entrenched in your own opinion and are
determined that it is the only right answer. Since you weren't in those
people's minds at the time, I find it a little hard to believe that you
know how they should have reacted.
Again, your solution, no rocks, no how, is probably the right answer, but
should we then ignore or respect that recommendation when a bobcat is
ready to jump on you. While bears won't attack for no reason, a bobcat
will. Actually, there is a reason, and it's usually that it is hungry and
you are the nearest piece of food.
Try to be a little more tolerant of people who aren't as intelligent as
you. Most of us make mistakes, and must learn from them, because of one
reason or another preventing us from thinking things completely through.
Usually it's because we left our crystal ball in our other pants.


Mike

unread,
Oct 6, 1996, 3:00:00 AM10/6/96
to

> The literature says that a display should be made, including noise and
> aggressive actions, such as throwing rocks AT them, but not ATTACKING
> the bear with a rock; hitting a bear with a stone is potential
> suicide.
>
Even though we are beating a dead horse, I do have to say something here.
Define "AT". Usually throwing a rock "AT" someone or something generally
means contact in some manner. It did not say "in the direction of." which
it probably should have. And throwing a rock "AT" the bear does not make
it an attack.
Just remember that not everyone has an IQ of 145. Not everyone reasons and
figures things out like other people do. That's why the "average" IQ is
only around 95. That's why some people are excellent at following
directions but couldn't make a logical decision themselves if their life
depended on it. (This is in no way saying that anyone involved is or is
not this way. I don't know these people, and mine is not to judge. But
before everyone else judges, think about that.)

Mike

unread,
Oct 6, 1996, 3:00:00 AM10/6/96
to

Careful, you might upset some of those out there who think opposite. "The
bears were there first, so let the scout get attacked" sort of
mentality... From many of the postings, that seems to be an opinion that
has been expressed more than once...

> cia...@popd.ix.netcom.com (Wayne Johnson) wrote in article
<52v4q6$c...@dfw-ixnews8.ix.netcom.com>...

Neil Savage

unread,
Oct 7, 1996, 3:00:00 AM10/7/96
to

In article <01bbb363.74416e80$ce90...@mrae.daka.com>, "Mike"
<mr...@daka.com> writes...
>
>... You are obviously entrenched in your own opinion and are

>determined that it is the only right answer. Since you weren't in those
>people's minds at the time, I find it a little hard to believe that you
>know how they should have reacted.

Yeah, hindsight is always closer to 20/20 than foresight.

>Try to be a little more tolerant of people who aren't as intelligent as
>you. Most of us make mistakes, and must learn from them, because of one
>reason or another preventing us from thinking things completely through.
>Usually it's because we left our crystal ball in our other pants.
>

Tolerance is usually a good thing. But there are exceptions - such as
when folks are doing something that endangers life. Yes, I take a
hard line towards this type of behavior, and I can understand the state of
confusion that an incident such as this engenders in others - particularly
those who do not know the rules (the BSA outdoor code is one, the BSA
Scout law is another). Outdoor ethics is one of my hot buttons.

Nevertheless, if you saw a Scout whelding a knife in a manner that
risked injury to his companions, would you not feel compelled to take
the knife away from him?

[No, I'm not saying this is precisely the same thing.]

- neil

Krieger S.M.

unread,
Oct 7, 1996, 3:00:00 AM10/7/96
to

>Let's not concentrate on who's guilty, who should get locked up, who's a
>good scout and not. Instead let's concentrate on how we can help this
>unfortunate incedent from happening to another group. Let's work together
>to help each other, not against each other. Let's set good examples for
>the scouts we are leading.

While "Boy Scouts" is associated with the outdoors and environment, etc.,
let's face it, how many of the adults are really qualified wildnerness
people? Looking at my Troop, for example, because of serious problems
involving lack of parental participation, we adopted a rule that a
parent of each new Scout must participate in one campout or take an
administrative job on the Troop Committee. Now tell me, how many of them
will know how to handle a bear in camp? And how many times is this repeated
across the country?

Also, how many adults really don't know, or appreciate, that they'll be
camping in an area where wild animals roam (meaning that they really
think, or perceive, there's some sort of physical barrier between
themselves and where the animals will be)? This is a reality that
probably needs to be addressed much more seriously.
--
Disclaimer: all opinions expressed are those
Stanley M Krieger of the author and not necessarily those of the
s...@sco.com Santa Cruz Operation, Inc.


Wayne Johnson

unread,
Oct 8, 1996, 3:00:00 AM10/8/96
to

s...@sco.com (Krieger S.M.) wrote:

>While "Boy Scouts" is associated with the outdoors and environment, etc.,
>let's face it, how many of the adults are really qualified wildnerness
>people? Looking at my Troop, for example, because of serious problems
>involving lack of parental participation, we adopted a rule that a
>parent of each new Scout must participate in one campout or take an
>administrative job on the Troop Committee. Now tell me, how many of them
>will know how to handle a bear in camp? And how many times is this repeated
>across the country?

Too often. In going after parental help, a compromise that doesn't
pay off usually happens - no Scoutmaster Fundamentals training, etc.,
which can bog you down with enthusiastic amateurs who want to help but
don't know the program.

As for handling situations found in camping - from bears to water
purification, or whatever - if the parents are going to go along and
supervise, they need training. Otherwise, leave them at home. If
leaving them at home means the troop stays home, so be it - a couple
of lost weekends will get everybody on track with the idea that taking
a bunch of kids into the wilderness is NOT a walk in the park.

>Also, how many adults really don't know, or appreciate, that they'll be
>camping in an area where wild animals roam (meaning that they really
>think, or perceive, there's some sort of physical barrier between
>themselves and where the animals will be)? This is a reality that
>probably needs to be addressed much more seriously.

There were a couple of serious wild animal attacks this summer here in
the Los Angeles area, including serious injuries to an eight year old
boy - who was sleeping in a tent, and suffered an unprovoked attack by
a bear.

In wilderness areas, we take turns standing guard if there is ANY risk
of attack by animals. While I probably wouldn't do that if I was with
a group of adults, we have children in our charge; the extra
responsibility makes for extra precautions, and I agree that we need
to look at this situation seriously.

Mike

unread,
Oct 10, 1996, 3:00:00 AM10/10/96
to


> sav...@tle.enet.dec.com (Neil Savage) wrote in article

<53bmm7$2...@nntpd.lkg.dec.com>...


>
> Tolerance is usually a good thing. But there are exceptions - such as
> when folks are doing something that endangers life. Yes, I take a
> hard line towards this type of behavior, and I can understand the
state of
> confusion that an incident such as this engenders in others -
particularly
> those who do not know the rules (the BSA outdoor code is one, the BSA
> Scout law is another). Outdoor ethics is one of my hot buttons.
>

Believe it or not, it is one of mine as well. While I do not believe in
passing judgement on these people, because I do not know what happened, I
also agree with you and many of the others out there. Something needs to
be done. We should have more training out there for adult leaders. And in
most cases this starts not at a troop level, but a district. I think a
concerted effort should be made for all districts to make sure members of
troops are properly trained, or at least a few members of the troop, and
one of those members should be on each outing.
I say district, rather than troop, because many troops are unaware that
they are improperly trained. It is only an outside observer that would be
able to tell them. I'm not saying that there should be a standard for all
leaders to live up to, that's kind of like making my values the law. But
there should be some things that all should know and follow. One of which,
the lesson learned from this situation. No rocks. Obviously, through our
discussions, or in some cases confrontations, we have come up with better
solutions.
Bottom line is something needs to be done to improve the quality of
leadership. Granted we can't be picky in some cases. Some troops are lucky
to have the 2 or 3 people they have, even if they are untrained. But there
must be a way to get them trained, PROPERLY, to avoid such future
problems.
I guess the big question is, how do we, as a group, the readers of this
newsgroup, initiate a campaign to better train our leaders? I would
welcome any suggestions, and rational discussions.

Frank Gehrling

unread,
Oct 13, 1996, 3:00:00 AM10/13/96
to
In Pine Tree Council (southern Maine) we have a rather unique way of
dealing with the training issue. Every adult has to be trained in order
to keep up there membership. For Cub Scouts this isn't a problem as the
traing District does is only a half day, dealing mainly with rules,
regulations, policies, etc, etc. For Scouting, it is a bigger problem as
the Basic SM course is at least 3 sessions. This is OK for SM and ASM
but we find it kind of difficult to recruit Committee Members when we
tell them they have all this training to go to. It is a drastic answer
to a real problem, but it seems to work here in Maine. Maybe this is
something other Councils should look into.

Neil Savage

unread,
Oct 15, 1996, 3:00:00 AM10/15/96
to

In article <326199...@mint.net>, Frank Gehrling <gehr...@mint.net>
writes...

>but we find it kind of difficult to recruit Committee Members when we
>tell them they have all this training to go to.

Frank,

The training a volunteer receives should be consistent with the tasks
and duties expected of her/him. Thus, if a troop committee member
expects to lead Scouts on an outing, (s)he had better be trained/prepared
to do so.

However, not everyone on the troop committee needs first aid and
fire-building training (for example). But those who would go on camping
trips with the Scouts, or who would teach first aid and fire-building to
them, should be so trained.

On the other hand, everyone on the troop committee should be cross-trained
in all the functions and responsibilities of a troop committee (including
each member learning the chairman's job).

Training should essentially be NEED-based - and conducted at the
'teachable moment'.

We must train those who might use it at a time as close as feasible to
when they might need it.

Do you agree?

- neil [Is it time to post the 'eightfold way of better training'?]

Neil Savage

unread,
Oct 15, 1996, 3:00:00 AM10/15/96
to

In article <01bbb680.0e7469c0$d590...@mrae.daka.com>, "Mike"
<mr...@daka.com> writes...

>
>I guess the big question is, how do we, as a group, the readers of this
>newsgroup, initiate a campaign to better train our leaders? I would
>welcome any suggestions, and rational discussions.
>

Michael, your remarks open up an interesting area for discussion -
comparing the two Scouting organizations in the USA.

The GSUSA absolutely requires training:

- if you are not trained as a troop leader, you cannot have a meeting with
your troop.

- if you do not have someone with you trained as a first aider, you cannot
take your troop anywhere except where someone is present that
has the training to take care of emergencies. For example, visiting
a nursing home, a hospital, the fire department is OK without 1st aid
training.

- if you do not have the requisite outdoor skills training, you cannot
take your troop camping, on a cookout, for a walk in the woods (away
from civilization, that is), and such.

The BSA offers essentially the same kind of training but does not demand
that the leaders must take it or forfeit the program.

Is it time for the BSA to make Troop leader training mandatory?
Is is imperitive that no BS troop be led on an outing without someone
certified in administering first aid?
Is it time that proof that at least one adult has outdoor skills training
(shelters, bedding, weather, cooking, packing, foul-weather clothing, fire
safety, etc.) be required before a trip permit can be issued?

You can guess where I stand on such questions.

- neil

Wayne Johnson

unread,
Oct 16, 1996, 3:00:00 AM10/16/96
to

sav...@tle.enet.dec.com (Neil Savage) wrote:

> The BSA offers essentially the same kind of training but does not demand
> that the leaders must take it or forfeit the program.

> Is it time for the BSA to make Troop leader training mandatory?

Absolutely.

> Is is imperitive that no BS troop be led on an outing without someone
> certified in administering first aid?

Absolutely.

> Is it time that proof that at least one adult has outdoor skills training
> (shelters, bedding, weather, cooking, packing, foul-weather clothing, fire
> safety, etc.) be required before a trip permit can be issued?

Absolutely; in our Troop, and the High Adventure Post my older son is
in, this is already an informal requirement.

> You can guess where I stand on such questions.

You're against it? Better have another chat with yourself; you make a
convincing argument!

Neil Savage

unread,
Oct 17, 1996, 3:00:00 AM10/17/96
to

In article <542u4r$8...@sjx-ixn6.ix.netcom.com>, cia...@popd.ix.netcom.com
(Wayne Johnson) writes...

>sav...@tle.enet.dec.com (Neil Savage) wrote:
>
>> You can guess where I stand on such questions.
>
>You're against it? Better have another chat with yourself; you make a
>convincing argument!
>

Did you forget the smiley face, Wayne?

I train Girl Scout leaders and Webelos leaders. I would NEVER be
against adequately preparing a Scout leader to take a troop into
backcountry.

- neil


Wayne Johnson

unread,
Oct 18, 1996, 3:00:00 AM10/18/96
to

sav...@tle.enet.dec.com (Neil Savage) wrote:

>In article <542u4r$8...@sjx-ixn6.ix.netcom.com>, cia...@popd.ix.netcom.com
>(Wayne Johnson) writes...
>>sav...@tle.enet.dec.com (Neil Savage) wrote:
>>
>>> You can guess where I stand on such questions.
>>
>>You're against it? Better have another chat with yourself; you make a
>>convincing argument!
>>

> Did you forget the smiley face, Wayne?

Yeah. I'm in a couple of groups where they're frowned on...

> I train Girl Scout leaders and Webelos leaders. I would NEVER be
> against adequately preparing a Scout leader to take a troop into
> backcountry.

I can't agree more. Our Scoutmaster is also a Girl Scout trainer; and
is adamant about training; and we've stressed training for anyone who
puts on the uniform and want to take boys somewhere in our troop.

Parents are welcome on most trips; but they're supercargo until they
get trained, not only in Scoutmaster Fundamentals, but Basic Backpack
Awareness and Outdoor Leadership.

Let's us know who the really committed ones are, too.

airstre...@gmail.com

unread,
Jan 9, 2020, 1:57:37 AM1/9/20
to
Jan 9, 2020
I’m not sure if anyone in this group will see this. But, tonight for the first time in all these years I looked up this tragic story. I was the first of 3 people who encountered the Scouts after this happened. As I hiked with my backpack up the the Halfdome cables, someone passed me and said, some Boy Scouts stones to death a bear.
Horrified I kept going up the trail and it wasn’t long before I came across 2 Rangers. It was a somber morning hearing what happened. Being that it was before smart phones and social media, no one took pictures to document. I had my 35mm but never even thought it because back then we were so in the moment, angered & sad that this happened.
I had not been very far away camping. And I know I had a bear visit my campsite also. The thing is...if you make loud noise they will go away. All the times I had been there, I had never felt the need to pick up a stone. It was always clang pans & yell.
This incident has kind of haunted me over the years. It could have turned out even worse if the mother bear turned on these people. But to me...this was needless. There was no doubt that morning, to me, the leaders overacted and did not do what in my opinion was the proper thing. While I’m thankful I didn’t walk up on a person dead. I certainly do not think that would have happened. And it is I’m embedded in my head picturing a small bear was needlessly stoned.
Hopefully the Scouts are taught better skills for wilderness camping. And I really hope those Leaders & Scouts are now working in the forestry, National Parks or in life doing something worthwhile giving back to humanity. If nobody reads this...I’m good with that. But it’s been something I’ve thought about all these years and it’s good to release it. Nothing could be done.

J. Hugh Sullivan

unread,
Jan 9, 2020, 10:04:42 AM1/9/20
to
On Wed, 8 Jan 2020 22:57:37 -0800 (PST), airstre...@gmail.com
wrote:

>Jan 9, 2020
>I=E2=80=99m not sure if anyone in this group will see this. But, tonight f=
>or the first time in all these years I looked up this tragic story. I was =
>the first of 3 people who encountered the Scouts after this happened. As I=
> hiked with my backpack up the the Halfdome cables, someone passed me and s=
>aid, some Boy Scouts stones to death a bear.=20
>Horrified I kept going up the trail and it wasn=E2=80=99t long before I cam=
>e across 2 Rangers. It was a somber morning hearing what happened. Being =
>that it was before smart phones and social media, no one took pictures to d=
>ocument. I had my 35mm but never even thought it because back then we were=
> so in the moment, angered & sad that this happened. =20
> I had not been very far away camping. And I know I had a bear visit my ca=
>mpsite also. The thing is...if you make loud noise they will go away. All=
> the times I had been there, I had never felt the need to pick up a stone. =
>It was always clang pans & yell.=20
>This incident has kind of haunted me over the years. It could have turned =
>out even worse if the mother bear turned on these people. But to me...this =
>was needless. There was no doubt that morning, to me, the leaders overacte=
>d and did not do what in my opinion was the proper thing. While I=E2=80=99=
>m thankful I didn=E2=80=99t walk up on a person dead. I certainly do not t=
>hink that would have happened. And it is I=E2=80=99m embedded in my head pi=
>cturing a small bear was needlessly stoned. =20
>Hopefully the Scouts are taught better skills for wilderness camping. And =
>I really hope those Leaders & Scouts are now working in the forestry, Natio=
>nal Parks or in life doing something worthwhile giving back to humanity. If=
> nobody reads this...I=E2=80=99m good with that. But it=E2=80=99s been som=
>ething I=E2=80=99ve thought about all these years and it=E2=80=99s good to =
>release it. Nothing could be done.

I was at Philmont in 1976 with my 2 sons. We knew to hang anything
with a good scent in a tree at night and that clanging on pots and
pans were supposed to scare the bears away. Fortunately we never had a
problem.

As for your story, Tater diagnosed the problem, "You can't cure
stupid!"

Hugh
Eagle 1943
Reply all
Reply to author
Forward
0 new messages