On August 31, 2018, Yosemite superintendent Mike Reynolds had a constructive and open phone discussion with Kristi Denton Cohen, director of Ursack community relations.
Mike outlined the concerns his bear management people had with the Ursack AllMitey. Despite never having tested it in the year and a half that they have had it, the bear crew hypothesized that the bag is porous. From that hypothesis, they concluded that a bear would lick the outside of the Ursack and thus become food habituated. This is sometimes called The Popsicle Theory.
Mike had not seen the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee’s (IGBC) test protocol. So, in a follow up email, Kristi sent it to him—highlighting two facts: 1) The IGBC started testing bear containers in 1989 and has continuously revised its test protocol in consultation with a wide variety of bear experts. It is the only testing agency in the US; 2) the IGBC protocol allows for gaps of up to ¼”. This belies the unproven Popsicle Theory held by some. Kristi also pointed out that if you put water in a Garcia Backpacker’s Cache canister and turn it upside down, it will leak.
Regardless, Mike is open to testing and to putting Ursack’s people together in a room with his bear management people to see if common ground can be achieved. He remained open (having discussed it with superintendant Woody Smeck) to having SEKI test Ursack first. He also remained open to eventually allowing AllMitey use for through hikers and those camping far enough away from the Valley floor.
Clearly, the AllMitey will not be allowed in Yosemite in the very near future, but there is hope on the horizon.