Monday, June 8, 2009

Does Bear Pepper Spray Really Work?

Bear Pepper Spray Works

Many consumers are hesitant at first, and some downright hostile at the idea that "bear pepper spray" is more effective than a gun in stopping a bear attack, but the numbers don't lie.

Studies done by several universities, as well as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, have proved beyond any shadow of a doubt that bear spray is far better at stopping a charging bear than any handgun – even in the hands of an expert marksman. This might seem really surprising at first, but the incredible sensitivity of a bear's nose makes the bear spray that much more effective a tool.

A recent law was passed allowing the carrying of hand guns in a federal park, which is a shame because the irony is that this is probably going to result in more people (and bears) dying than would otherwise be the case. There was a reason that park officials felt comfortable even going into "bear territory" in the parks – because the bear spray has been shown to work well over 95% of the time.

Even veterans of the wild know that a perfect shot doesn't always work. I lived for years up in Alaska, and I was showed plenty of scars from bear attacks. Hearing lines like "(Explicative) 44 Magnum, put three shots in its head and the (explicative) bear still mauled me." I also can't tell you how many idiot tourists I saw who thought a .22 pistol was going to do anything in Alaska other than make them lunch.

A lot of the deaths that are going to happen are ones that would have been preventable, and that's the biggest shame of it all. Bear spray was designed specifically to take down a bear. It's absolutely agonizing to any human who comes into contact with it, and a bear's sense of smell is several thousand times greater than a person's. Numbers vary, but depending on the wind scientists say bears can smell a human from two miles away, and sometimes blood from twenty.

Usually bears are curious, but not very interested in humans. Make noise while in the outdoors so you don't surprise them and you're probably in good shape. But just in case, learn about bear spray. It's saved my life at least once, and I know a lot of people who swear by it. Add that in with the studies and that's good enough for me.

I don't plan to be a bear's lunch, and if bear spray will prevent that, I'm all for it.