“Whether hunting or hiking, keeping my bear spray close at hand lets me focus on a great day afield-and keeps me and my family safe.”
Craig Boddington, Hunting Journalist
According to the paper, “Efficacy of Bear Deterrent Spray in Alaska” (Smith et al., 2010, bear spray stopped black bears’ undesirable behavior 90% of the time.
When you first see a bear, go ahead and get the bear spray into your hands. Be ready to use it only if the bear approaches closer than 50 ft. (15 m). You may need to spray the bear twice or more. Follow these steps:
Bear spray is a powerful deterrent made of capsaicin (the “hot” in hot peppers), which, when used correctly, can deter bear attacks. Bear spray inflames the bear’s eyes and upper respiratory system, causing intense burning and giving you and your loved ones time to escape. Bear spray emerges from the canister at over 70 mph, so it is likely be effective even under windy conditions.
Bear spray is a deterrent, not a repellent; use it only during an encounter with an aggressive bear. Pre-sprayed objects may actually attract bears and other wildlife.
Yes! In a study of bear spray incidents in Alaska, spray effectively deterred undesirable behavior more than 90% of the time. In 72 incidents involving 175 people, only three people were harmed, none seriously.
You must carry the spray on your person, know how to use it, and be ready on a moment’s notice.
Bear spray is available in many outdoor, hunting and sporting goods stores. You can also order it online. Canisters labeled “pepper spray,” may not have the correct concentration of ingredients. Instead, look for canisters marked “Bear Spray” or “Bear Deterrent,” with a minimum of 7.9 ounces (225 gr) of product, an EPA registration, and a concentration of 1-2% capsaicin and capsaicinoids. Check the expiration date to be sure the ingredients have a reasonable shelf life. For more information, download the 2017 IGBC Bear Spray Guidelines.
No. Any species of bear can become pushy or assertive, especially when cubs are involved or if the bear has become accustomed to human food or garbage. Bear spray may also successfully deter other wildlife such as moose and mountain lions during encounters.
Treat bear spray exactly as you would a loaded handgun. Bear spray in your face causes involuntary eye closure and pain for up to 45 minutes. At very close range, the pressure can cause permanent eye damage.
When a bear attacks, bear spray offers several advantages over a firearm:
Bottom line: hunters who carry bear spray are prepared for anything.
There are several differences between bear spray and pepper spray: