Guide instructs proper use of bear spray

From Be Bear Aware Campaign 

The Be Bear Aware Campaign has released a new 8-page guide called “How to Deploy Your Bear Spray Against A Highly Agitated Charging Bear.” The guide was made because the Be Bear Aware Campaign is deeply concerned. Most bear spray training, whether it is on the Internet or a live demonstration, is based on using pepper spray for people, not bear spray for use on bears. They are two very different applications. Using the wrong instructions or product can get you severely mauled.

We have conducted and informal survey of consumers carrying bear spray and 80 percent did not know what brand they had, how far it sprayed or how long it sprayed for. This even included hunters, who knew every detail about their firearm and ammunition, but could not do the same for their bear spray. 

When we asked participants to demonstrate how to hold the can and remove the safety clip, and whether they should direct or aim the spray, many of them fumbled with the can, unable to hold it correctly. Some even directed the can toward themselves instead of in the direction they wanted to spray in. 

The Be Bear Aware Campaign has monitored bear attacks and maulings that occurred with and without bear spray for more than 40 years. Since bear spray was marketed in the 1990s, incidences where bear spray failed to perform had several key elements that repeated themselves including: 

Waiting for the bear to be too close for the spray to take effect 

Spraying over top of the bear because they were not holding the can firmly, and spraying downward

Being unable to get the safety clip off. In one famous incident the father and daughter jumped off the cliff in Glacier Park to get away from the bear after the daughter did know how to properly release the safety clip. 

Spraying short bursts. The ingredients in most bear sprays are not mixed so the initial spray includes only the solvent, propellant, and linseed oil, not the active ingredient that can stop the bear. 

Incorrectly aiming toward a bear’s eyes, nose, and mouth (it’s dispersed in a powerful cone-shaped cloud)

Mistaking bear spray, pepper spray and military spray as the same product. They are all different and are NOT the same. 

This guide details how someone should respond with their bear spray against a highly agitated charging bear in four different scenarios. All bear sprays have their own proprietary formulas and are not the same. Some will spray for as little as four seconds. Only one will spray for eight seconds. Some spray for approximately 15 feet. Only one sprays for 40 feet. It is important to know what is and is not bear spray. 

It is clear that the reasons appear to not work is because of poor training, poor instruction, and inconsistencies in the distance and duration of spray that leaves people holding an empty can while the bear is still charging.

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