11 minutes ago
In response to my last post about the mystery pooper on the trail, I think it’s a coyote based off a few things such as the shape, the size and the amount of hair in the “sample” and its curly tapering end. You all had a lot of good guesses! It’s likely not a large cat’s poop as even large kitties like to scratch the earth around their poop sites and use areas over and over again. Bear was a common guess, and it COULD be a black bears but their omnivore diet produces a varied array of scat forms. Someone suggested I “be prepared if I am to run into a bear” and yes I am. One of the key things about hiking is being prepared. I carry bear spray when I hike on the west coast. Growing up in the east and doing a lot of field work alone in the woods, I became very familiar with black bears (Ursus americana) and realized I don’t have anything to be scared of with this relatively small bear, especially if I am respecting its personal space. However, the much larger brown bear/grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis) can be more aggressive, especially when babies are involved. While both bears are described by their color, both species can vary from blond to black in color. I find the easiest distinguishing feature is the large shoulder hump on the grizzlies. Also, a grizzly’s face appears more Cro-Magnon like than its smaller cousin. I encountered both grizzlies and black bears on my road trip across America and I was glad I had the comfort of knowing I had bear spray in my pack when I noticed they both were in baby season. I do want to explain that bear spray is not the same as the small pink personal pepper sprays you can buy at Target. Personal pepper spray is made up of 10% - 30% oleoresin capsicum, while bear spray is pure capsaicin and related capsaicinoids at ranges between 1-2%. Capsaicin is an active chemical (8-methyl-N-vanillyl-6-nonenamide) of chili peppers which causes intense irritation to mammals respiratory and optical systems. Personal defense pepper spray will not work on a bear as it is not powerful enough to deter an attack. Make sure to do plenty of research before heading into bear territory.