Posts Tagged pepper spray for bears

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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Pepper Spray for Lions, Tigers and Bears

Posted by Rob on Saturday, 30 January, 2010

Pepper spray comes in many varieties. You have stream, fogger, gel or foam deliveries. You have 1/2 ounce to 1.5 ounce keychains, 2, 4, 9, and 12 oz. canisters, pepper spray exercise hand weights, pepper spray pens and pepper spray jewelry in the form of ring.

Most of the pepper spray and Mace products are specially formulated for use as an inflammatory agent against man. Pepper spray will induce coughing, choking and nausea in the target creep. It will dilate their eye capillaries causing temporary blindness. Their mucous membranes will swell causing all but life support breathing from functioning properly, rendering an assailant temporarily incapacitated. A mere one second burst of pepper spray is enough to stop an attacker for up to 45 minutes, all without permanent damage.

If you are looking to protect yourself from aggressive canines, we have Mace Muzzle pepper spray for dogs. If your concern is wild bears while hiking or camping in the woods, we have specially formulated bear mace.

But what about other possible attackers?

We specifically covered humans, dogs and bears. What about other dangerous wild animals, such as coyote, wolves, mountain lions, cougars, puma, panthers… I don’t know… dingos?

You would be hard pressed to find a canister of Mountain Lion Pepper Spray, or Coyote Mace. That being said, lets call a spade a spade, and pepper spray, pepper spray.

For the most part, any of these pepper spray products will work against any of the animals if you hit them in the face. All of these animals have an acute sense of smell, and very sensitive noses. Inflammatory agents such as pepper spray will wreak havoc on their eyes and noses.

Bear pepper spray has a unique deployment that shoots a wide area fog up to 25-30 feet away. Bears in particular will want to be kept at as much as a distance as possible, and typically lumber loudly enough through the woods to give to a small warning. Also the bear sprays are typically rated slightly hotter than human pepper spray. Usually 20% concentration, instead of the 10-18% concentrations you will find in the Mace, Pepper Shot and Wildfire pepper spray lines.

If you hit a human with bear mace (and I use the term human loosely when referring to a common street thug), you can be assured he will soon be hating life.

Also, if you are walking around the neighborhood, and you are carrying Mace Muzzle Canine Spray and are approached by a mugger, let him have it. If you are walking down the street carrying your Wildfire pepper spray key chain formulated for human incapacitation, and you confront a vicious dog, let him have it. Same with a coyote or mountain lion. We are pretty equal opportunity, race independent here.

You do however have an inherent problem with attacks by large cats, such as the mountain lion, cougar, puma, panthers, etc. These animals are stealthy and quick. More likely than not, you will be stalked. Like a ninja. Ninja cat. You will not likely know you are in danger until the last possible moment, when the animal pounces.

These animals are also ninja like in their art of assassination. The mountain lion will target your head or neck, quite literally aiming for the jugular, or attempting to break your spine. Not the ideal situation for trying to pepper spray in advance.

To your advantage, if you are able to get a fair warning, mountain lions can be persuaded to call off an attack. The mountain lion is fully aware that he is only 100-120 pounds, and an average adult male outweighs him. Not that it really matters, due to the cats superior speed, sharp claws and vicious teeth. Just don’t tell him that, and he may not bother calling your bluff.

If you are able to spot a mountain lion first, stand as tall possible and stick out your arms. You want to appear even larger. Talk loudly and aggressively, attempt to throw objects such as rocks and sticks.

Whatever you do, do NOT turn your back to the animal and run. He will beat you in a foot race. He has more feet than you do. If anything, attempt to threaten the mountain lion. Try to fake him out by advance toward it, slightly (Do not advance too close). All the while, have your pepper spray in hand and ready to deploy once the animal gets in range.

In the unfortunate event you are attacked unexpectedly, just as if it were a human assailant, FIGHT BACK. It is very likely the attacker will decide you are not worth the trouble if you are able to FIGHT BACK hard enough. Even if you are only able to struggle for a short time, make them work for it.

Incidentally, your pet dog may only garner a little bit of help and quite possibly attract these dangerous animals. Children are also especially attractive targets, as the mountain lion may be larger than them and less cautious. Use extreme caution when hiking in known lion country with your kids. Stay in groups, and always, always be on the lookout.

Be Safe, Be Prepared.

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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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Pepper Spray for Bears – Hunters, Hikers, Campers be Warned

Posted by Rob on Monday, 10 November, 2008

We have been saying it for awhile, but another grizzly bear expert is urging hunters and hikers to carry bear pepper spray when entering the woods. It just makes sense.

This time, Mike Madel, a bear management specialist from the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks has reported an increase in hunter bear encounters over the past few years. As if you needed another reason to defend and protect yourself from an angry, 8 foot bear in the woods.

“Hunters like to rely on firearms, and things do happen pretty quickly,” Madel says. “But if both backcountry hikers and hunters have red-pepper spray on the hip, it can be accessed quickly and used.”

A mother grizzly was shot last month on Summit Trail between U.S. Highway 2 and the South Fork of the Two Medicine River near East Glacier. A hunter was imitating a female elk call, or “cow talking” when the mother bear and two cubs investigated the noise.

Madel says the mother charged the hunter who ended up shooting and mortally wounding the bear. The two cubs were not captured and a warden who responded to the scene and shot the seriously wounded bear, decided the two cubs were to fend for themselves. Pepper spray may have prevented the death of that mother bear.

The bear isn’t the enemy, we are invading their home. Most of us would rather deter the bear from approaching and leave the scene with both parties unscathed.

A year prior, a different hunter was attacked by a grizzly bear near Dupuyer in Montana, and then another hunter shot and killed a female grizzly that charged him near East Glacier. A third hunter was unharmed, although shaken up by a close encounter along the Rocky Mountain Front.

Madel believes a large number of elk along the Front is attracting many hunters, which in turn, leads to more encounters with the local grizzlies.

This is true with more than just the elk hunters in Montana. Anywhere hunters are in the woods hunting elk, moose, deer, wild turkey or any other hunting season prey, an encounter with a grizzly bear, brown bear or polar bear may be possible.

Even wilderness hikers and campers need to be careful and prepared for a bear encounter. Even when meticulous bear encounter prevention measures are and should be taken, a chance bear-to-face meeting could occur.

I have seen many bears at a rather close distance. Luckily the fences and zoo enclosures protected me quite well. In the wild, I’d rather have a can of bear mace strapped to my hip, with a back up can in my pack. I hope all my companions have their bear spray readily available too. Just in case.

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