Posts Tagged bear safety tips

Start Packing your Bear Pepper Spray and Bear Mace

Posted by Rob on Tuesday, 16 March, 2010

Even if I forget to pay attention to what time of year it is, the seasonal influx of bear pepper spray and bear mace orders from those in bear country remind me that the bears are waking up from hibernation. I did notice my Canadian Geese have come back north and settled in our pond again, but if you frequent Yellowstone, Glacier National Park or any other areas inhabited by grizzly or black bears, you have no doubt noticed some of them stirring too.

bear-sprayWhether it is bear tracks, bear droppings, animal carcasses or an actual human-bear encounter, now is the time to pack the bear spray.

Coming out of hibernation, these bears are hungry and aggressive. Later on in the season, while still dangerous, bears are more peaceful unless there is an available food source. You do properly store your food while in the woods don’t you?

Since 1992, half of the people ended up injured from bear encounters when people defended themselves with a firearm, according to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services investigations. Those that defended themselves with bear formulated pepper spray ended up escaping injury most of the time, while those that were injured received less severe injuries and shorter attacks before the bears vacated the area.

Your best bear safety tip is to avoid the heavily bear populated area and heed all seasonal bear closure notices. Most of the time, the bear closures are only temporary, covering certain areas with increased bear activity that eventually lessens. If the park says stay out until June 15th or June 30th, wait until July. This is for your safety and the safety of your family, not the convenience of the park rangers.

This is still early on in the season, not all bears are out and about yet. And the temperatures may still be pretty cold in some areas. It is best to store your pepper spray for bears in a chest holster, which would keep the canister warmer than the frigid temperatures. Bear spray will still operate, but it may spray out slower and not quite as far. But make sure your bear spray is still readily accessible. You may only have a few moments to act, and you will not have time to dig it out from the bottom of your backpack.

I would always have at least 2 canisters on me, one readily available clipped to my hip or chest, and at least another can of bear mace in my pack. Have each person in your party carry the same. You never know if you are going to run in to one bear on your way in and one bear on your way out of the woods… If you do use at least a partial canister of bear spray, replace it when practical. You want a full 9 oz. can in the event you face a potential bear attack.

If you are deploying mace bear spray, take a quick account for the wind and adjust your aim accordingly. Pop the safety and aim towards the animal but slightly down, as the spray with fog out and upwards. Shoot off a brief warning shot when the bear is just out of range of your spray. If the bear continues advancing or charges, spray again creating a wall of fog between you and the bear so he runs into it.

Once the bear is distracted or turns away to wander off, immediately leave the area and seek shelter. Do not run, and do not take your eyes off the animal, but attempt to get back to your vehicle or nearby building or ranger station if available. Under no circumstances should you chase, follow or otherwise taunt the bear. Let him leave freely, and don’t give him a reason to return. Don’t forget to pull out your backup canister from your backpack and attach it to your hip or chest.

Campers, hunters, hikers, fisherman, and other outdoor enthusists be warned.

Watch out for the bear signs, check out the park webpage and as always, Be Safe, Be Prepared.

Related Blog Posts:
Pepper Spray for Lions, Tigers and Bears
Get the Bear Necessities
Pepper Spray for Bears – Hunters, Hikers, Campers be Warned
Woman Mauled by Bear, Yogi has Alibi
Not All Bears are Cute and Cuddly
When Bears Attack!

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Get the Bear Necessities

Posted by Rob on Wednesday, 11 February, 2009

If you are going to venture anywhere near bear country, you may be safer carrying a 9 oz. canister of Guard Alaska Bear Repellent or Bear Pepper Mace than you would relying on a gun. But you don’t have to take our word for it.

How about the recommendation of Thomas Smith and Stephen Herrero?

Thomas S. Smith, associate professor of wildlife science at Brigham Young University, “is highly respected among bear biologists, naturalists and educators. His one-on-one experience with bears in the field is an enormous resource to the bear management community,” said director of the Center for Wildlife Information, Chuck Bartlebaugh, who runs “Be Bear Aware” and other wildlife safety campaigns. “This new study is important information that is needed by hunters, hikers or campers to understand the value of bear spray and how it can protect both people and bears.”

Dr. Stephen Herrero is Professor of Environmental Science and Biology at the University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He is recognized throughout the world as a leading authority on bear ecology, behavior, and attacks, writing several books and papers on those topics.

Smith has faithfully carried bear pepper spray while conducted fieldwork among bears for over 16 years but admits he has never had to actually deploy bear spray. Caution and wisdom are the best prevention of bear attacks, and being a bear biologist, you would expect nothing less. “I wish I had more scary stories to share, but I’ve behaved myself.”

Non-experienced, non-bear biologists don’t quite have the luxury of knowing bear behavior inside and out.

Many hikers, campers and other outdoors people have expressed concern, as well as unfounded doubt and criticism over the effectiveness of that little can of pepper spray on a ferocious bear. “Working in the bear safety arena, I even found a lot of resistance to bear spray among professionals,” says Smith. “There was no good, clean data set that demonstrated definitively that it worked, so that’s why we did this research.”

Sensing the need for some answers and reassurance, Smith and colleagues analyzed data from 20 years of bear spray incidents in Alaska, home to 150,000 bears.

From their findings, pepper spray specially designed for bears effectively halted 92% of the cases of an aggressive bear encounter, whether attacking or rummaging for food.

Only 3 individuals were injured by bears out of 175 people associated with the study, with none requiring a trip to the hospital.

“People working or recreating in bear habitat should feel confident they are safe if carrying bear spray,” says Smith.

Smith had some previous research of the effectiveness of guns in similar situations. Only 67% success. It was noted on average it takes four hits to even stop a bear, and the accuracy needed “during the terrifying split seconds of a grizzly charge is extremely difficult”. On top of the physical issues, many national parks have restrictions on bringing guns in the first place.

The research debunks some of the common misconceptions about using bear spray:

- “Bear spray doesn’t work when it’s windy.” Wind was reported to have interfered with spray accuracy in five of the 71 incidents studied, although the spray reached the bear in all cases. A wind meter was used to test the speed of the bear spray as it shot out of the canister and repeatedly averaged 70 miles per hour. Smith also noted that bears and humans can easily see each other in open, windy spaces. The surprise encounters tend to occur in wooded areas in which vegetation blocks wind.

- “The spray will also disable the person using it.” In the 71 incidents documented in the study, only 10 times did a user report minor irritation and two reported near incapacitation.

- “The can might not work.” There were no reports of spray can malfunction among the 71 studied incidents.

It is believed that one of the primary reasons bear spray works is that it gives users a reason to stand their ground. Running is the worst response to an aggressive bear, Smith says, “but it’s hard not to. Just picture the meanest dog in your neighborhood and multiply his size by ten. It’s very hard to keep your feet from running, but bear spray gives you an option. When you stop and plant your feet, that makes them stop.”

This is because even though humans are much smaller than bears, the animals still view us as risky. “Having seen bears with porcupine quills in their faces, I’m sure that most bears learn at an early age that size is not a good indicator of threat,” Smith said. “There’s always this fear of retribution that keeps them in line. They could take any person they wanted. But they don’t know that.”

It was also noted that the hissing sound and sight of the expanding pepper spray cloud are often enough to frighten away the animal. “I have data to show that if you sprayed water, they often would run,” Smith says.

It was also reported that there were 11 incidents where bear spray was applied to objects like tents in attempt to repel curious bears. Do not attempt this, as it actually backfired and attracted bears instead. You should also discard practice spray canisters before entering the woods.

Other findings reported in the paper include:

– On average, the spray was used when the bear was about 12 feet away (Bear spray typically covers 20-30 foot range)

- 35 percent of incidents involved hikers, and 30 percent involved bear management activities

- 60 percent of the incidents occurred between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.

- Nearly 70 percent of the incidents involved brown (grizzly) bears and 28 percent involved black bears. The study also reports the first two documented uses of bear spray on polar bears in Alaska.

Besides Smith and Herrero, Terry D. Debruyn of the National Park Service, and James M. Wilder of Minerals Management Service were also involved in this study. The paper also relies on an earlier publication of a decade’s worth of bear spray data by Herrero and Andrew Higgins. The research was funded by the U.S. Geological Survey, Alaska Science Center. Source

So in conclusion, a study reviewing bear incidents in Alaska over a 20-year period, involving 175 people, and found that pepper spray deterred bears (including grizzly bears, black bears and polar bears) in 92% of cases. In 98% of cases, people who used bear spray were uninjured by the bear; in the remaining cases, injuries were minor. In only 7% of cases did wind interfere with accuracy, and in only 3% was the person using the pepper spray incapacitated by the spray. (Report did not state if user error was involved.)

Clearly as we have stated in the past, bear spray is a highly effective defense against aggressive bears. Nothing is 100% effective, but if the possibility of encountering a wild bear presents itself, I’d rather be safer than sorrier.

Obviously, we want to prevent criminal use of bear spray, but we must also bear in mind that this product saves lives and protects people from serious injury in the woods. Or anywhere a bear may wander.

Be Safe, Be Prepared.

bearspray

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Does a Bear Smell Pepper Spray in the Woods?

Posted by Rob on Monday, 2 July, 2007

If you read my blog back at the beginning of May, you
already received my Bear joke, and bear safety tips. If
not, you can scroll back to:

https://worthprotectionsecurity.com/blog/?p=9

I love that joke. Of course, I have never been chased by a
bear. I’m sure that experience would sour the joke for me.
I also would never knowingly be caught out in bear country
with out some handy dandy bear spray.

One of the things I have noticed lately in my marketing
efforts, namely Google Adwords, is that I get quite a few
clicks on my Bear Spray ads, but convert far fewer to
actual sales. In an attempt to rectify this, I have just
decided to offer you a discount on the holster that you
probably should purchase as an accessory to your canister
of bear spray.

If you order one can of Bear Pepper Spray or Bear Mace, you
will be offered the nylon holster at 1/2 price, and if you
buy two cans, you will get a FREE holster. Normally the
holster would run you $15.00, so you are either getting a
$7.50 or a $15.00 price break.

Having your Bear Spray attached to your belt or front strap
of your backpack is HIGHLY recommended. When you need to
grab your bear spray and unload its contents in the general
direction of a bear, the last thing you want to do is have
to dig through a full backpack, or search around for it.
You need it right there, right in reach, right when you need
to use it.

Besides the whopper sized 16oz Wildfire Pepper Sprays, the
Bear Sprays are on the pricey side of the pepper spray
spectrum due to their size and special formulation. But
please do not let the $39.95 price tag discourage you from
arming yourself!

Even though I make money from selling you products to defend
yourself, I truly hope you never have to actually use them.
Especially in the situation as terrifying and stressful as
fending off a charging grizzly bear. But then again, if you
were ever faced with that situation, how much would that
$40 can (and $7.50 holster) be Worth to you?

It would be nice to believe that nothing will happen to
you, but the reality of it is that an ounce of protection
could be worth more than a pound of cure. What is Worth
Protection to you? Your belongings? Your family? Your
personal well-being?

Yours in safety,

Rob Cook

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