Saturday, June 30, 2012

Video: Proper Use of Bear Spray

While hiking in Glacier National Park, or any wilderness area that has grizzly bears, your best line of defense in the unlikely event of an attack is bear spray. According to one study, bear spray is 95% effective in stopping a bear attack, while firearms are only 55% effective.

Below is a demonstration on how to properly use bear spray. The video also includes a reenactment of Mark Matheny's bear attack in 1992. Mark went on to found the UDAP Pepper Spray company.

In a January 2012 Backpacker Magazine article, Dave Parker, a certified bear spray safety trainer, is quoted as saying that:

"If an animal comes within 50 feet, use your spray. If the bear isn’t running, point the nozzle about 30 feet away, and fire a series of one-to-two-second bursts. If it’s charging, point the spray at the bear’s chest and hold the trigger until the can is fully discharged. Out of spray and the grizzly is still charging? Don’t run, lay on your stomach, cover your head, and play dead."

Jamie Jonkel, a bear management specialist with the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, offers some additional advice:

"If a bear charges from a distance, spray a two to three second burst in the direction of the bear. Experts recommend bear spray with a minimum spray distance of 25 feet.

Point the canister slightly down and spray with a slight side-to-side motion. This distributes an expanding cloud of spray that the bear must pass through before it gets close to you. Spray additional bursts if the bear continues toward you.

Sometimes just the noise of the spray and the appearance of the spray cloud is enough to deter a bear from continuing its charge. Spray additional bursts if the bear makes additional charges.

If you have a sudden close encounter with a bear, spray at the front of the bear. Continue spraying until the bear either breaks off its charge or is going to make contact."

For more information on hiking in bear country, including how to avoid a surprise encounter, please click here.

If you need to purchase bear spray for an upcoming hiking trip, please click here.

Hiking in


  1. The two words that best describe Tom S. Smith's 2012 "research" on Efficacy of Firearms for Bear Deterrence in Alaska are "scientific fraud." Smith subjectively selected 269 incidents from 1883-2006, and 56% of people who used firearms against bear were injured or killed. In contrast, a 1999 study on Characteristics of Nonsport Mortalities to Brown and Black Bears and Human Injuries From Bears in Alaska by Miller & Tutterrow found that from 1985-96, there were 1,038 incidents when bears were killed in defense of life or property, and less than 2% of the people involved were injured or killed. From 1970-96, there were 2,289 bears killed in defense of life or property. Smith's biased study excluded most firearms successes, but included every firearms failure he could find during a 125-year timeframe.

  2. Anon - I'm not disputing your information, but do you have links to back up your data?


  3. Smoky--I don't know how to do links, but just google either study. Efficacy of Firearms was published in the Journal of Wildlife Management, Characteristics of Nonsport Mortalities was in Ursus. Based on the definition of firearms success provided in Efficacy of Firearms, all bears killed in defense of life or property qualify as a firearms success. So the question is, why weren't all DLPs included in Efficacy of Firearms? Also, the study on Efficacy of Bear spray included incidents when wildlife professionals hazed bears with bear spray, but Efficacy of Firearms did not include incidents when wildlife pros hazed bears using shotguns loaded with non-lethal ammo.


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