Monday, February 14, 2011

McDonalds and Bears in the Sierra

Okay, since I've had children, I have had the unfortunate experience of reacquainting myself with McDonalds. I mean honestly, how many outdoor and fitness oriented adults go to McDonalds and admit it...not very many.

But it's different when you have kids.  There aren't that many places to eat where you can take children and occupy them.  McDonalds has those play areas, which the kids absolutely love.  Seriously, I know that there are people in the restaurant industry out there that are reading this.  And for all of you, here's my million dollar idea that I'll give you for free.  Make a nice restaurant that adults in their thirties and forties would want to go to and hang out at...with a play area.

If you do this, you will make a mint. I'll come. And everybody else I know that are my age with kids would go there too!

In any case, McDonalds recently did something interesting.  They produced a television commercial where a couple of bears in the Sierra decide to go out to McDonalds for dinner.  They do this by attacking a car full of people eating McDonalds.  The bears tear the car apart to get at the food.

Check out the commercial below:

Clearly, the commercial is a little bit over the top.  But it was inspired by reality.  There is a significant problem with bears and cars in the Sierra.  Indeed, some bear cubs are actually taught to sniff out food in cars and then to break into them.  They know that if they see a cooler in the back of a car, that there is food in it.

If you are traveling, backpacking, hiking or climbing in the Sierra, it is very important to remove the cooler from your car and put it in a bearbox.  These are provided at most trailheads and in most public campgrounds.  If there no bearboxes, then make sure that it is out of site.

Additionally, it's not a bad idea to avoid eating in your car.  Especially, fragrant food. like McDonalds. There are stories about bears breaking into cars for as little as one french-fry or one energy bar wrapper.

When bears become problem bears and continually break into cars for food, they become known to the rangers.  And once they become known, they are usually put down.

The Sierra is a great place to adventure.  But if you want to make sure that a trip to the area is a positive experience from beginning to end, be sure your car is clean and that you've stored your food properly.  Bears are beautiful creatures...when they're not in your car.

--Jason D. Martin

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