A Good Reason Not To Run – Pack Bear Spray

Counter Assault Bear Deterrent

Research in Alaska indicates that bear spray reduces the number of bears killed in self-defense and reduces human injuries caused by bears.

“Bear spray has been used successfully to prevent injury to humans and bears,” said Tom Smith, an Associate Professor at Brigham Young University in Utah who studied bear spray while he was a wildlife ecologist at the USGS Alaska Biological Science Center in Anchorage.

In addition, Smith believes, after analyzing thousands of bear attacks and people’s responses that bear spray also benefits people by giving them a reason not to run away.

Of 42 cases where people ran when confronted by a bear, only two bears left without further interaction. In the other cases, bears chased the fleeing people and in some instances attacked and mauled them.

“Running did not bring about the desired outcome. Running should not be high on anyone’s list of options for dealing with a bear,” Smith said.

Yet confronted by a bear with no deterrent at hand, most people do panic and run.

Smith said bear spray helps people to stand their ground and that conveys a message to the bear that they are a “co-dominant” and unwilling to yield.

Another side benefit to bear spray is that the sudden, loud hissing of the spray and the billowing orange cloud can sometimes startle and even turn a bear before the spray reaches them.

The active ingredient in bear spray is an extremely strong irritant. It obviously turns the tables and makes the aggressor the victim, Smith said.

The Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee recommends the use of bear spray in addition to always following proper bear avoidance safety techniques.

IGBC bear spray recommendations can be found on the IGBC Web site , or go to the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Web site at fwp.mt.gov under Wild Things and click on Living With Wildlife for more on living with bears .

When and where to use bear pepper spray:

  Bear spray should only be used as a deterrent in a confrontation with a bear.

  Bear spray is effective only when used as an airborne deterrent sprayed as a cloud at an animal at close range. It should not be applied to people, tents, packs, equipment or to the surrounding area as a repellent.

  Each person should carry a can of bear spray when working or recreating in bear habitat.

  Spray should be carried in a quick, accessible fashion such as in a hip or chest holster.

  In your tent, keep bear spray readily available next to your flashlight and a can available in your cooking area.

  Bear spray should be tested once a year. Do not test spray in or near a camping area, or on clothing or equipment. Be sure to check the expiration date on your can of bear spray.


How to use bear spray:

 Remove safety clip

  Aim slightly down and in front of the approaching bear. If necessary, adjust for cross wind.

  Spray again if the bear continues to approach.

  Once the animal has retreated or is busy cleaning itself, leave the area as quickly as possible (don’t run) or go to an immediate area of safety, such as a car, tree, or building. Do not chase or pursue the animal.

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