Are Sea Lions Dangerous to Be Around?

mark knapp

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So I have to say the whole argument about behaviors of a hunted versus none hunted animal is interesting. How do hunted animals pass on the “fear” of humans if they are dead? Bears specifically in this case are not pack animals as far as I know, so how do they pass that avoidance behavior on to other bears? How do you account for “dinner bell” bears? I’ve heard plenty of first hand accounts of people shooting moose, deer or caribou and bears come running. I have worked in places where bears are hunted and not hunted and the only thing that comes to mind that alters their behavior is if the bear perceives you as a threat. Then they decide fight or flight.
You have to remember that every bear that is shot at or stalked is not killed, they learn when they are spooked and/or shot at. In the spring, bears are not loners, boars associate with sows and other bores, every time one is killed or stalked, the others learn from that. Sows teach cubs everything they need to know to survive, where to find food, where to sleep, what is dangerous and what is not, part of that is, they teach them to avoid humans where they need to. Every animal does the same. I have seen sows with cubs come to a human path, smell human smells and turn and run the other way. Cubs learn from that. I and many other think she is teaching the cobs that behavior

As for dinner bell bears, I have never seen it. I think it's mostly a myth, otherwise, it would be too easy to kill a bear. We'd just walk out and shoot a rifle. It has never happened in my 30 years guiding for bears.

I have had one bear show up 3/4 of an hour after a moose was shot but it was a very young, inexperienced bear. I'm not saying it has never happened, just that it's not very likely or common.

The difference you are talking about in your last sentence is the one I am talking about. That's the point.

Just compare bears (and all animals) in the wild to those in Denali. To me it's very clear.
 
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share the pictures! One november we took the zodiak down to whittier and the harbor and passage was iced up. We wanted to get out 4 miles or so to our duckhunting spot so we followed a big boat out that was breaking the ice. We got out about 2 miles and decided it wasnt a good idea because the ice was going to freeze up again and didnt think breaking ice with a zodiak was a good idea. We looked back and there were 3 or 4 sea lions swimming right behind us which was a little unnerving. That sealed the deal on running back to the harbor quick as we could. We figured either the ice was going to get us or the lions were going to get us. You feel really small in a zodiak in the middle of passage canal.
Absolutely you feel small, especially when bigger boats are in the area and whales are breaching the surface right by you lol. I made it almost to the point where billings creek flows into the canal.
Anyways, let me compress some pics so I can post them.
 
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share the pictures! One november we took the zodiak down to whittier and the harbor and passage was iced up. We wanted to get out 4 miles or so to our duckhunting spot so we followed a big boat out that was breaking the ice. We got out about 2 miles and decided it wasnt a good idea because the ice was going to freeze up again and didnt think breaking ice with a zodiak was a good idea. We looked back and there were 3 or 4 sea lions swimming right behind us which was a little unnerving. That sealed the deal on running back to the harbor quick as we could. We figured either the ice was going to get us or the lions were going to get us. You feel really small in a zodiak in the middle of passage canal.
 

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Some killer shots on a gorgeous day, thanks for sharing! Man… I gotta get a boat😂
Man I got lucky. I asked a buddy of mine that has a 42 footer about cheap options on getting into boating and he said he had a 12 foot inflatable at his house in the shed. He said I could have it but I needed to repair some leaks. So I did. It wasn't too hard to do.
You should check out Craigslist and Alaskaslist for free or cheap inflatables that need repaired and make the repairs yourself. You could probably get something going pretty cheap. Of course an inflatable is limited. I wouldn't want to take this thing out to try and find any deer. But it's great for exploring immediate areas. Next summer I'm taking it to Homer and fishing Kachemak Bay.
 

urbanhillbilly

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Man I got lucky. I asked a buddy of mine that has a 42 footer about cheap options on getting into boating and he said he had a 12 foot inflatable at his house in the shed. He said I could have it but I needed to repair some leaks. So I did. It wasn't too hard to do.
You should check out Craigslist and Alaskaslist for free or cheap inflatables that need repaired and make the repairs yourself. You could probably get something going pretty cheap. Of course an inflatable is limited. I wouldn't want to take this thing out to try and find any deer. But it's great for exploring immediate areas. Next summer I'm taking it to Homer and fishing Kachemak Bay.
I’m all about the cheap! I am always on the lookout. My main problem at the moment is that I live in an apartment building with very minimal storage and I refuse to pay for a storage lot lol
 

mark knapp

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Why do you feel that's relevent? I can count 8 or so that are close friends or regular associates, one of whom is a Steller sea lion specialist, many many more over the years.
It's relevant because you claim to know which ones are "worth their' salt" and what they think.

I should also remind you that just because you don't believe in something or have knowledge about it (like Modern Wildlife Management), it doesn't mean it isn't knowledge.

I'll get back to you about how well known the hunter/prey relationship I am talking about is known to the ADF&G.
 
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kwackkillncrew

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Man I got lucky. I asked a buddy of mine that has a 42 footer about cheap options on getting into boating and he said he had a 12 foot inflatable at his house in the shed. He said I could have it but I needed to repair some leaks. So I did. It wasn't too hard to do.
You should check out Craigslist and Alaskaslist for free or cheap inflatables that need repaired and make the repairs yourself. You could probably get something going pretty cheap. Of course an inflatable is limited. I wouldn't want to take this thing out to try and find any deer. But it's great for exploring immediate areas. Next summer I'm taking it to Homer and fishing Kachemak Bay.
Thats how we started. Buddy had a zodiak we started taking out of whittier, only would go out about 5 miles or so but it got us more comfortable with the water and we learned alot. My family got a 22' raider 6 years ago and its been awesome to have that. Opens up alot of options. You should have no issue getting some halibut outta that boat in kbay. pick your days and come in around 1 pm and you should just be getting in before the afternoon winds.
 

SmokeRoss

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You have to remember that every bear that is shot at or stalked is not killed, they learn when they are spooked and/or shot at. In the spring, bears are not loners, boars associate with sows and other bores, every time one is killed or stalked, the others learn from that. Sows teach cubs everything they need to know to survive, where to find food, where to sleep, what is dangerous and what is not, part of that is, they teach them to avoid humans where they need to. Every animal does the same. I have seen sows with cubs come to a human path, smell human smells and turn and run the other way. Cubs learn from that. I and many other think she is teaching the cobs that behavior

As for dinner bell bears, I have never seen it. I think it's mostly a myth, otherwise, it would be too easy to kill a bear. We'd just walk out and shoot a rifle. It has never happened in my 30 years guiding for bears.

I have had one bear show up 3/4 of an hour after a moose was shot but it was a very young, inexperienced bear. I'm not saying it has never happened, just that it's not very likely or common.

The difference you are talking about in your last sentence is the one I am talking about. That's the point.

Just compare bears (and all animals) in the wild to those in Denali. To me it's very clear.
I have experienced 'dinner bell' bears while caribou hunting across the Inlet. My dad fired a couple rounds to supposedly scare off a family of brown bears while we were butchering a kill. The bears were still quite a ways off. They dropped to all fours and sprinted right at us.
 

SmokeRoss

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So I have to say the whole argument about behaviors of a hunted versus none hunted animal is interesting. How do hunted animals pass on the “fear” of humans if they are dead? Bears specifically in this case are not pack animals as far as I know, so how do they pass that avoidance behavior on to other bears? How do you account for “dinner bell” bears? I’ve heard plenty of first hand accounts of people shooting moose, deer or caribou and bears come running. I have worked in places where bears are hunted and not hunted and the only thing that comes to mind that alters their behavior is if the bear perceives you as a threat. Then they decide fight or flight.
I worked in the logging industry in the PNW and SE Alaska. One area where I worked many years was on the Quinault Reservation. The Indians rarely hunted bears there and we were over ran with them. We killed a lot of them there. Many days we would see more than a dozen while logging or when driving to and from the work site. We often had to run them off. I have no doubt that scaring them away from our operation by whatever means necessary taught them something. Off the Rez we rarely ever saw bears because of the hound hunters. When you did see one (cougars also) they would be making tracks as fast as possible. There was no posing for pictures like the bears in Yellowstone, Denali, or the other parks I have visited over my 69 years.
 
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Thats how we started. Buddy had a zodiak we started taking out of whittier, only would go out about 5 miles or so but it got us more comfortable with the water and we learned alot. My family got a 22' raider 6 years ago and its been awesome to have that. Opens up alot of options. You should have no issue getting some halibut outta that boat in kbay. pick your days and come in around 1 pm and you should just be getting in before the afternoon winds.
Nice
Good tips, thanks for the advice.
A little off topic but I've heard of several people either seeing signs of or actually taking deer out of Shotgun Cove. I've been curious to go scout around back there. I wouldn't at all expect it to be a prime location with any sizable population but the prospect alone makes me want to go poke around back there. Have you or anyone reading this ever come across any similar information?
 
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I’m all about the cheap! I am always on the lookout. My main problem at the moment is that I live in an apartment building with very minimal storage and I refuse to pay for a storage lot lol
Inflatables are perfect for that. I don't have much room either and I just deflate mine and roll it up. It takes up maybe a third of the floor space in the back of my suburban with the backseats folded down. I only run a 5HP for now so that's small and light weight enough to stow away too. Though a 9.9 would open up more options.
 

mark knapp

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I have experienced 'dinner bell' bears while caribou hunting across the Inlet. My dad fired a couple rounds to supposedly scare off a family of brown bears while we were butchering a kill. The bears were still quite a ways off. They dropped to all fours and sprinted right at us.
Hi Smoke, You could call that "dinner Bell" but I would ask a couple of things first, like, were the hunters visible to the bears? What direction was the wind from and what was the conclusion of the situation.

Generally, when a shot rings out in the bush the first words uttered by almost everybody (except the shooter) is "Where'd that shot come from". Most people agree that unless you see something else, it's very hard to know exactly where a shot came from. It's possible that your bears were confused about where to go if the shooters were hidden at all and not moving. They just decided to move rapidly in the direction they were already traveling in. Bears have eyesight only about as good as humans and can generally only find things if those things are moving. They don't have binoculars. I've seen ungulates do the same thing (Come at you at the sound of a shot). In the case of ungulates, it could not be a "dinner bell" syndrome.

I once called three kicked-out sibling brown bears that came at a charge when they heard what they thought was the sound of food. As soon as I came out from hiding and fired a shot over their heads they about faced and ran the other direction.

Usually as soon as brown bears smell humans, where bears are hunted it's game over, bye bye.

When was it, when the bears decided to end the pursuit? If it was when the bears realized they were dealing with humans and not just caribou meat, then I personally would not call in a "dinner bell" thing. Because, if the bears were coming to the shot, it stands to reason that they already knew humans were there.

If I have a situation like the one you described, I usually move out into the open, wave my arms and holler things like "(Hey Bear, get out of here" That usually works weather there is meat involved or not. A shot is rarely required.

I wish you and your family well.
 

Daveinthebush

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Inflatables are perfect for that. I don't have much room either and I just deflate mine and roll it up. It takes up maybe a third of the floor space in the back of my suburban with the backseats folded down. I only run a 5HP for now so that's small and light weight enough to stow away too. Though a 9.9 would open up more options.
The problem with inflatables is that they deflate too. I went to shore once just to run some food up to a bear stand. When I returned to the beach, I had a de-flatable waiting for me with a nice canine tooth in the tube. I spotted the culprit about 50 yards off. It was an iffy paddle back to the boat.
 

SmokeRoss

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Hi Smoke, You could call that "dinner Bell" but I would ask a couple of things first, like, were the hunters visible to the bears? What direction was the wind from and what was the conclusion of the situation.

Generally, when a shot rings out in the bush the first words uttered by almost everybody (except the shooter) is "Where'd that shot come from". Most people agree that unless you see something else, it's very hard to know exactly where a shot came from. It's possible that your bears were confused about where to go if the shooters were hidden at all and not moving. They just decided to move rapidly in the direction they were already traveling in. Bears have eyesight only about as good as humans and can generally only find things if those things are moving. They don't have binoculars. I've seen ungulates do the same thing (Come at you at the sound of a shot). In the case of ungulates, it could not be a "dinner bell" syndrome.

I once called three kicked-out sibling brown bears that came at a charge when they heard what they thought was the sound of food. As soon as I came out from hiding and fired a shot over their heads they about faced and ran the other direction.

Usually as soon as brown bears smell humans, where bears are hunted it's game over, bye bye.

When was it, when the bears decided to end the pursuit? If it was when the bears realized they were dealing with humans and not just caribou meat, then I personally would not call in a "dinner bell" thing. Because, if the bears were coming to the shot, it stands to reason that they already knew humans were there.

If I have a situation like the one you described, I usually move out into the open, wave my arms and holler things like "(Hey Bear, get out of here" That usually works weather there is meat involved or not. A shot is rarely required.

I wish you and your family well.
Dad fired several rounds. The bears could see the hunters who were waving their arms. If I remember correctly the bears weren't downwind either. More shots fired close to the bears turned them away when they got close to the hunters/kill.
 

mark knapp

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Dad fired several rounds. The bears could see the hunters who were waving their arms. If I remember correctly the bears weren't downwind either. More shots fired close to the bears turned them away when they got close to the hunters/kill.
Well, there you go, you know about it more than I do. I bet the bears learned a lesson about encounters with humans. I wouldn't expect those bears to do that again.
 

mark knapp

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So I have to say the whole argument about behaviors of a hunted versus none hunted animal is interesting. How do hunted animals pass on the “fear” of humans if they are dead? Bears specifically in this case are not pack animals as far as I know, so how do they pass that avoidance behavior on to other bears? How do you account for “dinner bell” bears? I’ve heard plenty of first hand accounts of people shooting moose, deer or caribou and bears come running. I have worked in places where bears are hunted and not hunted and the only thing that comes to mind that alters their behavior is if the bear perceives you as a threat. Then they decide fight or flight.
You know, you asked a very good question in your first paragraph. I answered it but I was never completely happy with my answer. Everything I said was true but I should also have mentioned that from the time an animal is born in an area outside a park, every time it has an encounter with a human, it's a negative situation for the animal. We yell and carry on, bang pots and pans and sometimes we shoot at them or around them with pistols, rifles and shotguns, with .22s or bird shot. When I was guiding for bears on Kodiak and the Peninsula, I found shotgun pellets shot under the hide on a few occasions. I once found a .30 caliber bullet at the back of an eye socket. I have bought three or four caribou antlers with arrow heads in them and more than that with bullet holes in them, moose too. I've also bought musk ox horns with bullets in them. All of them nonlethal shots, but unpleasant.

Encounteres, don't have to be with just hunters. Wild game can stumble into an encounter with humans at any time of year. Hikers, campers, joggers, floaters and fisherman have bad encounters with wild game all the time, and like as not, they have a dog with them to make matters worse.

These are some of the other things that teach game to avoid humans as well as what I mentioned before.

In parks, it's not the same. In parks we are taught to whisper, stay in the bus most of the time and not make sudden movements that might startle and animal. Some people throw them food that further makes it a pleasant encounter for them. For a while, they didn't let people carry a gun in Denali National park, but too many hikers had problems with bears and some of the people got eaten. Now you can carry a gun in the park to defend yourself.
 
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