[cdt-l] bear spray continued

Karen Somers kborski at yahoo.com
Thu Apr 12 13:33:41 CDT 2007

Just another mention of this....there is evidence
indicating that bear sprays are a) ineffective when
used against enraged grizzlies, and b) a possible
scent attraction for foraging bears.  

I'm not for or against bear spray, but people should
consider point b) when in camp at night.  I plan to
bear bag my pepper spray.  If a hungry griz comes
after me in the tent at night, I guess I'll just be
SOL.  I would rather not leave any reason for the
hungry griz to root around my tent in the first place.

As for point a), I would only suggest not to enrage a
grizzly, if you can help it.  Most griz charges are
defensive bluffs....you are too close to the bear or
its offspring.  If a griz stalks you as prey, which is
very rare scenario, then pepper spray may be a
deterrent.  The problem is, that unless you are
Stephen Herrero, or one of the few people in the world
who can read brown bear body language, you probably
won't be able to discern the intentions of the bear. 
Your best bet, if charged is to stand your ground and
avoid directly threatening the bear with a direct
stare or squared off body.  Turn slightly away and
drop your gaze.  If the bear makes contact, then you
should play dead (with browns only).  If you start to
get eaten, it's time to spray.  It'll get on you, yes,
but the object is just to remove the bear at that
point.  And at that point, it is time to risk an
enraged bear, because you're dead if you don't try

After all the debate about sprays and my own extensive
study of bear behavior, I am unsure about carrying the
canister.  I probably will.  I have read so many times
about hunters and people who live in the thick of
grizzly country their entire lives and have never even
seen a grizzly.  On the other hand, CDT hikers will be
exposed to national park bears, which we all know are
not necessarily exhibiting truly wild behavior
(avoidance of humans).

I really advise all hikers to study at least the
basics about brown bears.  It's also in your best
interest to understand more about black bears, too. 
Bear agression is such a rare thing, anyhow, that it's
actually more to your benefit to read about lightning,
which is much more likely to harm you on the trail. 
Bears are just so fascinating and entirely
unpredictable that we tend to dwell longer on them
that risk probability warrants.  Obviously, one of my
favorite topics.


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