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On the trail of a new cave, worried about a bear. Advice?

PostPosted: Mar 30, 2021 2:19 pm
by BillRigg
Hey all! I've been researching for a while on likely indicators of caves in an area as I'd love to discover one.

Karst lines, high and low elevation changes, sinkholes, rivers that disappear underground; I've been keeping my eyes peeled and I think I've narrowed down a spot in a river valley (incidentally one that I've found some fossils in, too). I was able to find some springs low in the valley that release runoff water from higher up, and this is not only along a karst line but also there are sinkholes forming on the hillside and in that area specifically.

The problem, though, is that as I get nearer to the massive cluster of ledge rock that I think could hide the possible entrance to the cave, last week I noticed an increasing amount of bear scat along the deer path to said location. And then, the kicker - a very fresh bear footprint. It had rained that morning and cleared up, so I know the footprint was literally made in the three or four hours before I got there. The footprint was at the base of the climb up the rock ledge there, which leads me to two conclusions :

the bear has likely already found the cave entrance and is using it as a den;
and that if I want to find this cave entrance I'm going to have to hedge my bets for dealing with the bear.

I guess I wanted to check in, as this could be the first cave I've ever found and I didn't exactly expect to have a real estate issue with a bear! :laughing:

It's worth noting that I'm in northern New Jersey and we only have blackbears - which are usually more nonaggressive and want to be left alone - but it's also worth noting that 3 years ago a scoutmaster was mauled by a bear in a cave not so far from where I am. Different town, different cave, but clearly a risk!


So what do you all think? Should I just buy some bear spray and be very careful? Should I try to find another cave? Should I bring some sort of weapon to discourage the bear if it gets aggressive?
Also, if there is a cave with a bear in it, what do I do? Wait for the bear to move on in a few years, or report it, or what?

Don't want to lose this potential cave to a bear, but even more than that I'd rather not lose my life in a fight with a bear :shrug:

Any advice, info, tips, strategies, or similar experiences would be very helpful and welcome! Thank you!