Bear spray is the most effective means of repelling an attacking grizzly or black bear in a non-toxic, non-lethal manner. Although common sense might suggest that guns would provide greater personal protection, research and experience indicates that human-bear encounters that do not involve firearms are less likely to result in injury to a human or bear.
According to a US Fish and Wildlife report, people who use firearms to defend themselves against charging grizzly bears suffer injury about 50 per cent of the time, while people defending themselves with bear spray escape injury most of the time and injuries that did occur were less severe (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service). University of Calgary’s Dr. Stephen Herrero found similar results. This is why bear spray is often carried in the backcountry by biologists, professional guides and hikers/campers.
"Even a skilled marksman with steady nerves may have a slim chance of deterring a bear attack with a gun." - U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Buying Bear Spray
In Canada, bear spray does not have to be certified or tested. Therefore, it is essential that you purchase your spray from a reputable company.
When to replace your bear spray
Bear spray that has been discharged for any reason, left in extreme temperatures (above 50° C or below freezing), or has passed its expiry date should be replaced. This is because the seal that holds the propellant (usually nitrogen) can deteriorate and become compromised, reducing the ability of the product to project the spray effectively when you really need it.
How bear spray works, how to use it, and tips for the back-country
The aerosol can shoots bursts of atomized capsaicin (a cayenne pepper derivative) up to eight metres, though the spray is most effective at short range. Bear pepper spray causes the membranes of the eyes, nose and lungs of a bear to swell and the result is a nearly total, yet temporary, loss of sight and severe restriction of breathing. Often times, bears that are sprayed leave the area, allowing you time to retreat.
Always carry bear spray so that it is readily available to you. If a bear is approaching you, you can use the spray to deter the bear, spraying a 2 second burst aiming for the eyes, face and nose of the bear. If the bear continues to approach re-apply another 2 second burst.
Nothing can replace good sense and proper safety measures. People whose activities may possibly put them in a situation where they may encounter a bear or other wild animal should educate themselves and be aware of the potential for an attack. Bear spray is ideal for personal defense use when hunting, camping, fishing, hiking and biking or whenever enjoying the great outdoors in bear habitat.
Warning: When transporting bear spray, always make sure the safety is securely in place and will not fall out. Bear spray should never be transported inside the passenger area of any vehicle or airplane unless in a fully sealed enclosed container. Bear spray should not be sprayed on objects such as tents or humans. This type of use has no deterrent effect on bears.
Working with Dan LeGrandeur and Bear Scare Ltd. was an eye-opening experience for me. In 2011 we literally experienced a 'bear invasion' at our work camps in northern Alberta. More than 20 black bear visits were reported to our Environmental Department during a two-month period ... we needed swift action to protect our staff, clients and customers. In a short period of time, Dan made it happen. Using non-lethal techniques, he and his colleagues managed to deter more than 15 black bears from our camps (while) providing valuable training and advice to our front line workers. Thank you Dan!
~ Taras Senyuta, Environmental Manager PTI Group Inc., Edmonton
The Bear Scare Awareness Training was extremely informative and more than enjoyable to be part of. The situational videos give you a better picture of how to deal with wildlife properly. Dan's training give you more than the necessary tools for assessing any given situation while working in Alberta bear country. I recommend it to anyone considering any wildlife awareness training.
~ Russ Jackson, Supervisor - Lodge Safety Noralta Lodge Ltd., Nisku
Bear Scare Ltd. provides some of the best wildlife training in the industry. With reliable and comprehensive training, Bear Scare Ltd. is the best choice for all wildlife training courses.
~ Kai Rasporich ConocoPhillips
Being a Health, Safety and Environmental professional, I was tasked to find a solution for the increasing number of bear encounters our field staff were having. This is when I had the pleasure of being introduced to Dan and his non-lethal deterrent approach to effective bear management. I had what I thought was some good experience with bears, but Dan completely changed the way I thought about bear management. His experience and enthusiasm showed as he walked us through what we had to do immediately and long term to help ... decrease encounters. Dan was able to assist with an assessment of our locations, producing detailed recommendations we were able to put into action. He also provided direct, non-lethal bear management techniques. Basically, he helped the bears understand where not to go. I guess you could say that Dan educated both us and the bears. To watch him work is amazing. In my books, he's the Bear Whisperer.
~ Jason O'Donnell HSE Works, Inc.
The information and education presented by Bear Scare Ltd. has been an invaluable asset in assisting the Oil Sands Developers Group and its membership in their efforts to become Bear Smart. Companies presenting at the workshops often refer to the guidance received by Dan LeGrandeur helping them successfully reduce bear/human interactions. We look forward to working together again in the future.
~ Carol Christian Oil Sands Developers Group