Ask Cavers: Have You Ever Found a Bear in a Cave?

October 24, 2012
Black Bear

Photo by solviturambulando/flickr

In some areas of the world caving in the late fall can add yet another danger to the equation, as hibernating bears sometimes use caves as their winter residence.

A recent trip in which another caver had yet another face to face encounter with a furry friend made us wonder; how many cavers have discovered a bear blocking their way in a cave they were trying to visit?

Let us know by answering the poll and telling us about your encounters in the comments below.

Have you ever found a bear in a cave?

Yes 20% (11 Votes)
No 80% (44 Votes)

  Total Voters: 55

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Previous Question Results

Of those that responded to last week’s poll, about two-thirds of cavers that have older kids indicate that they continue caving with enthusiasm. Those seem like pretty good odds, so why are there so few young people caving?

On the other side, answers to last week’s ask caver question suggested that most cavers never plan to stop caving. The responses were extremely refreshing to hear in an age when many people seem to stop having adventures when they get older.

Thanks for all wonderful responses!

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Comments (13)

  1. October 25, 2012 at 8:06 am

    Have You Ever Found a Bear in a Cave? … Yes
    Have You Ever Found a Beer in a Cave? … No


  2. Mike
    October 25, 2012 at 8:12 am

    Large, radio collared young adult (probably male) about 200′ into a cave during the dead heat of summer. Likely seeking relief from the 110 degree weather. Fortunately, it was not aggressive. Siting was reported to MO Black Bear Project and the MDC.

  3. Dan Chase
    October 25, 2012 at 9:23 am

    I found a Bear’s skull in a pit cave in Indiana, back around 1965. Sold it to a friend for $26. I wish I had it back now.

  4. Suzanna Langowski
    October 25, 2012 at 9:35 am

    Three of them actually, but they were very old and not at risk of being awakened. (They dated to around 45,000 BP.)

  5. Susan P
    October 25, 2012 at 9:35 am

    Me personally no, however I know of a couple folks who have… in Virginia.

  6. Steve S
    October 25, 2012 at 9:47 am

    Never a bear, but I did get the crap scared out of me by an angry bobcat lol. It’s amazing how fast you can exit a cave in a blind panic!

  7. Frank Brown
    October 25, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    Never ran across a bear, but plumbing Allen Pitzenbargers Pit, about 40 ft depth I found a rattle snake. It was cold wet and miserable. The next person down killed it. I felt sorry for it but there was no reaonable way to lift it out of the pit.

  8. Anthony Ledford
    October 25, 2012 at 6:58 pm

    Haven’t seen a bear yet! But i usually cave in the summer! I have a trip to salt peter cave, in grassy cove this saturday! Wish me luck!!!

  9. Bill
    October 25, 2012 at 9:55 pm

    Found fresh bear scat in a cave I am mapping yesterday. (was not there 2 weeks ago. Cave was in Wright Co, MO. Looks like he/she may just sleep in the cave .

    • Mike
      October 26, 2012 at 5:54 pm

      Bill, you might consider filing a report with the MO Black Bear project. Those folks might be inteested in that information, especially if you have pictures.

  10. October 26, 2012 at 1:54 am

    Hans Bodenhamer was leading his Bigfork High School Caving Club (Montana) to Bear Medicine Cave in Glacier National Park, so named for the bear claw marks found within. Imagine their surprise when a black bear exited the cave as they approached!! It made the cover of the Northern Rocky Mountain Grotto Newsletter; view it here: Talk about an exciting trip!!

    • Mike
      October 26, 2012 at 5:56 pm

      Very nice! My pictures did not turn out that well. Humidity in the cave does that I suppose.

  11. Steven Tucker
    October 29, 2012 at 12:53 am

    Well we don’t have any bears in South Africa!

    What we often find in our caves are porcupines, luckily I have only met them in large passages and not in crawls. (In one cave the porcupine seemed to favour a rim-stone pool as its toilet)

    Other than that, snakes at the entrances are common and one person came face to face with a leopard inside a cave.


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