Monday, April 3, 2017

Bear Spray

I can't fly it to Alaska, but may just buy some in Fairbanks and leave it there.  Is there a bear spray lending library in Fairbanks?  If not, why not?  The prospect of reliably hitting an 18" x 18"  target moving 35 mph sounds unattractive.  Bear spray is apparently at least as effective as .44 Magnum and less precision is required to use it.

Bring the 9mm for two-legged threats.

There is a bit of research that seems to indicate bear sprays are more reliable defenses than guns.  While many traditional sorts in bear country prefer carrying a gun, it may be tradition more than actual efficacy.  I found a skeptical article about these studies here, but also a comment from a hunter heavily armed, carrying bear spray:
So, after resting for a while, I had a thought occur to me. I had never heard of this approach before so, I got out my Bear Away and with a slight breeze coming in over my shoulders and moving in the direction of Smokey, I fired off a good steady stream in the air. After a few seconds, he began sneezing and snotting and started to bob his head up and down. After a few seconds of this, (maybe 20) he lumbered off back in the direction that he had just come from. 
I can get the bear spray out and sprayed as fast as my S&W 629, and precision matters less.  A criminal attack by a 2 legged predator will doubtless be solved by bear spray as well.  But I'll bring a handgun as well.


  1. Similar problems flying with CO2 cartridges for inflatable life vests. There's one stashed behind some books at the Berkeley Yacht Club for the next time I get back there. :)

  2. Some people advocate pepper spray and also wearing bells while in bear country. That has lead to the general observation that bear scat is spicy and comes decorated with bells.

  3. Order practice bear spray, and practice at home before going. There is special practice spray without the capsicum but otherwise the same in handling and spray pattern.

    I worked one season at a large wilderness camp in the Rockies where personal firearms were disallowed (and have always been for all adult and youth campers AFAIK) We regularly had scout group leaders who were pretty insistent about carrying a handgun of some sort, and the response of experienced staff was always along the line of "if you shoot a bear with that, you are likely to make it angry". That said, in the years that I kept up with the camp gossip, in spite of many tens of thousands of visitors the very few bear-human encounters involving injury to either all revolved around either human aggression towards the bear, or humans not following protocol in regard to handing food, food waste, or other "smellies".

    So I'm suspecting you'll have no bear problem. Some years ago (2008?) I noted that there were far more wasp and bee attacks requiring hospitalization in Alaska than bear incidents, and having lived in wilderness bear country I tend to think that situational awareness, not being alone, and appropriate reactions to bears that appear to take an interest in you will be more than enough to avoid contact.

  4. A cousin worked many summers in Glacier National Park. He swore by the stuff. Used it on more than one occasion. He only used it on black bears, if I recall. But he was sure it would work on grizzlies. I think he said colleagues had used it on grizzlies and lived to tell about it.

  5. As long as you don't try to hug the bears, you should be OK!

    Please don't follow the practice of Timothy Treadwell, AKA "The Grizzly Man" who, along with his girlfriend, were killed and eaten by bears.

    Timothy Treadwell - Infogalactic: the planetary knowledge core