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Bear spray a viable alternative to guns for deterring bears, BYU study shows
Date:3/25/2008

did this research.

Tom Smith 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 Chuck Bartlebaugh, director of the Center for Wildlife Information, the nonprofit that 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.

The research debunks these common misconceptions about bear spray:

  • Bear spray doesnt work when its 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. Smith used a wind meter to test the speed of the spray as it streams out of the canister. Repeated tests showed an average of 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, 10 times users reported minor irritation and two reported near incapacitation.

  • The can might not work. There were no reports of spray malfunction among the 71 incidents.

Smith believes 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, he said, but its hard not to. Just picture the meanest dog in your neighborhood and multiply his size by tenits 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
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Contact: Michael Smart
michael_smart@byu.edu
801-422-7320
Brigham Young University
Source:Eurekalert  

Page: 1 2 3

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