Tests Alternative Food Storage Methods
By Willie Waterman, NOLS Intern
Reprinted from The Leader, Spring 2003, Vol. 18,
NOLS, the leader in outdoor education, is now the leader in bear
deterrence as well. Bear tubes, which NOLS students have been
carrying into backcountry areas for years and are incredibly bulky
and cumbersome, will soon be a thing of the past, according to
NOLS Curriculum Manager John Gookin.
John has created a portable, lightweight electric fence system
that will keep curious bears out of backpackers’ food stores.
Not only is John expecting these fences to simply keep bears away
from campers’ food, but he’s hoping to condition the
bears to avoid human food for good.
NOLS is currently using the fences on an experimental basis
in cooperation with the Wyoming Game & Fish Department, the
U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service and the Grizzly
& Wolf Discovery Center. NOLS began testing the fences in
2002 and has already accumulated over 1,000 user-nights in the
Absaroka and Wind River ranges with NOLS students. Before being
tested in the field with NOLS, Wyoming Game & Fish biologists
experimented with the devices. The biologists stationed the system
around carcasses in known problematic grizzly prone areas and
came out with a 100% success rate, meaning the bears stayed away
from the carcasses. The fences have been tested in hot, dry, temperate
and snowy conditions.
There will be some new additions to the fences that NOLS will
use in 2003, including a light to prevent the bears, who have
notoriously poor night vision, from stumbling into the fences
in the dark. Regardless, NOLS students will be happy to know that
hard-to-pack, heavy bear tubes will be one less thing they have
to stuff into their backpacks this summer.