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Studies Show Bear Spray More Effective Than Guns Against Grizzlies


With all the debate lately over whether visitors should be allowed to carry weapons in national parks, much has been said about the need for protection against wild animals, bears in particular. Well, studies show bear spray is a much more effective deterrent than a speeding bullet.

Evidence of human-bear encounters even suggests that shooting a bear can escalate the seriousness of an attack, while encounters where firearms are not used are less likely to result in injury or death of the human or the bear. While firearms can kill a bear, can a bullet kill quickly enough -- and can the shooter be accurate enough -- to prevent a dangerous, even fatal, attack?

The question is not one of marksmanship or clear thinking in the face of a growling bear, for even a skilled
marksman with steady nerves may have a slim chance of deterring a bear attack with a gun. Law
enforcement agents for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have experience that supports this reality --
based on their investigations of human-bear encounters since 1992, persons encountering grizzlies and
defending themselves with firearms suffer injury about 50% of the time. During the same period, persons
defending themselves with pepper spray escaped injury most of the time, and those that were injured
experienced shorter duration attacks and less severe injuries.

That snippet was taken from a report prepared by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. You can find the entire document attached below.


Was that gun stolen? I don't think anyone in their right mind would have left such an important thing behind, unless they were somehow maybe running to save a child?, a fire was approaching?, or something that would make a person completely lose their faculties (like a person who maybe got the drop on her who was armed with a gun themselves). Such a case is an isolated incidence and does not preclude the advantages of carrying a gun in qualified, skilled hands. All people with guns in national parks have to do is present their permits, and if the parks want to make it fine tuned, have the people show qualification in combat hand gunning. And all parks should have signs at the entrance and prominently posted, of the dangers at the park.

Lady, you're a female. And that's fine. I love women. I plan to marry one and I love her. But most women are taught to be afraid of firearms and to stay away from them, much less know how to use them. A skilled marksman as well as a park ranger at that with the right training would know when to shoot a dangerous bear and shoot him dead, quickly and efficiently. I don't know how the author of this article supporting bear spray can judge such trained people, studies or no studies. If I'm trained in combat hand gunning, I shoot what I aim at and it's dead. It's a no brainer for me. And I don't go around spraying bullets here and there at every bear I see or every sound or movement of the brush I see. Yes, it's alright to carry bear spray and use it. But be prepared if you miss your spray shot or it gets dropped or the bear knocks it out of your hand either by surprising you or being too quick for you. You need to be trained in advance if you venture into bear country. It's like learning anything new. Practice and train first, especially if it's your life and limb you're dealing with. Also, national parks have been know hangouts for all kinds of weirdos, including sexual predators, druggies, and just plain sickos. The parks are big and easy to hide in. I say be prepared like the Scout's motto says. If you're too stubborn and prideful to want to be prepared, then fine. It's your choice.

The comment assumes that you have to kill a bear with a shot in order to deter it, but the same bear "will most PROBABLY be scared from the sound of the spray alone"? This seems... disingenuous.
The statistics cited in by others at first seemed more persuasive, but look more carefully: 50% of those defending with a firearm are mauled, but most of those defending with spray are not, or mauled less so. Wait... whats the difference between about 50% and "most"? 1%? Were the situations even remotely similar? Most likely not, since hunters would be the ones most likely having guns, and they were far more likely to be moving quietly and surprising the bear, or even packing bloody meat, compared to hikers talking loudly and wearing little bells.

A bear in a tent at night is a very frightening and dangerous (albeit very rare) scenario, no doubt. If you think that through, you are likely to be disoriented when suddenly woken up by a bear in or near your tent. You are in a dark, small and relatively unfamiliar space, likely in a somewhat confining sleeping bag, and often with other people in very close proximity. While I'm sure that you are confident in your ability to safely and accurately deliver a threat stopping shot at this bear at point blank range, there is a lot of potential for unintended consequences to you and others nearby, especially if your tentmates are in your line of fire.

Bear spray deployed in the same situation requires no aiming whatsoever, since a very small burst in the confined space of the tent will be plenty to affect the bear. You can spray the bear and your partner without killing either. That same burst will certainly affect you and anybody else in the tent, and that should be factored into your decision.

A well-respected bear researcher I know always keeps three things near him, in the same spot every time, while in a tent in bear country - a flashlight, a knife, and bear spray. The knife, he is quick to point out, is to cut his way out of the tent after he sprays the bear.

In the late 1950's, my father and brother, who was then a young toddler, were camping at White Wolf in Yosemite NP. They were advised by rangers, at an evening programon the subject, that if a bear entered the tent, they should use a large knife to stab it in the nose, where bears are particularly vulnerable to pain. My father kept a large hunting knife in the tent for this very purpose. That night, he awoke to noise and movement just outside the tent and, fearing for the safety of his young son, drew the knife and held it ready as tent flap was pushed open, only to discover for the first time that my brother was apparently prone to sleep walking and it was him - not a bear - entering the tent. As my father told the story, he came very close to stabbing my brother in the face that night. Thankfully, he did not, and I would like to think that if he had been armed with a gun he would not have shot him either. Nevertheless, it was a very close call for all concerned, and if things had gone differently, how much better would it have been to have accidently sprayed my brother with pepper spray that night instead of resorting to a potentially lethal option.

I would not be so quick to dismiss bear spray as a viable option against a bear in your tent - to the contrary, it may well be a better tactical option, even if you also carry a firearm. Just food for thought.

How about the bears that attack hikers at night, in their tents? I don't think bear spray is as effective in this situation. If anything, the spray will disorient the hiker. I believe that at night people should have guns loaded and ready. Most of the bear attacks I've researched happened at night, and in a tent. I don't like the killing of bears, but in some circumstances, it is necessary.

It seems that you have a serious axe to grind. This isn't so much to do with the Second Amendment but more to do with what is going to protect you best from a bear attack. Why don't you bring bear spray to protect yourself from a bear and bring your gun to protect yourself from other people etc. Also, it is a reduction of freedom to tell property owners what they can and can't allow on their property. If a property owner doesn't want guns on their property, that should be their prerogative, even if that land owner is a park manager. If you don't like it, don't go there! There is nobody in the world forcing you to go to places that won't allow guns. Also, it would help gun owners if they were more responsible. They started allowing guns in State Parks in Tennessee and a lady left her pistol on the toilet paper holder in the bathroom and a child found it. I don't have to tell you how badly that could have turned out.

Actually, I HAVE seen a pissed off black bear, from about 3' away. He was coming into one end of the pup tent I was sleeping in.

I didn't have a pistol and didn't have bear spray. What I had was brand new batteries in a high power flashlight and when I startled him with the bright light in his eyes he turned and ran.

That, was a bear. I trust you know the donkeys a bit more than I.

LoL it is very ovious that most of you have never seen pissed off black let alone grizzley. you people are full of it try your bear spray on a 200 lb crack head, and he will still kick your but but a Grizzley get a life.
You don't even know a bear from a donkey. go drink some more coctails,.

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