Bear Pepper Spray
Bear pepper spray is the most effective means of repelling an attacking grizzly or black bear in a non-toxic, non-lethal manner.
How bear spray works
The aerosol can shoots bursts of atomized capsaicin (a red pepper derivative) up to 25 feet, 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. To be effective, bear spray has to hit the eyes and nose of the bear. Most times, bears that are sprayed leave the area allowing you time to back away.
How to use bear spray
Always carry bear spray so that it is readily available to you, preferably in a holster worn on a belt or pack. If a bear is approaching or charging you, use the spray to deter the bear.
- remove safety clip
- aim toward the approaching bear; adjust angle for wind direction
- steady your arm and depress trigger with thumb
- deploy in 2 – 3 second bursts when the bear is 30 feet away;
- aim the spray below its head
- try not to use the entire contents as more than one application may be needed
- spray again if the bear continues to approach; this time aim for the face
- once the bear has retreated or is busy cleaning itself, leave the area as quickly as possible, but do not run; alternatively, get to an area of safety, such as a car
Watch a video here on how to use bear spray.
When to replace your bear spray
Bear sprays can become compromised if the seal that holds the propellant (usually nitrogen) deteriorates. This reduces the ability of the product to project the spray effectively when you really need it. For this reason, you should replace your bear spray:
- after it has been discharged for any reason
- if it has been left in extreme temperatures (above 122° F or below freezing)
- if the can has passed its expiration date
- Bear spray is explosive and some bear sprays are extremely flammable.
- Bear spray should not be sprayed on objects such as tents or humans. This type of use has no deterrent effect on bears. In fact, it has been reported that some bears may be attracted to bear spray.
- Wind speed and direction can affect the effectiveness of bear spray. If the wind is blowing in the user's face the spray will contaminate the user and not the bear. In addition, if there is a cross-wind the bear may not receive a full application of the spray. Prior to deployment of the spray, if possible move to where the wind direction is more favourable.
The inflammatory properties of the bear spray will affect humans in a similar way as it does bears. A person contaminated with bear spray will experience the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose and lungs to swell and be irritated. The eyes will involuntarily close and tear, the nose will run profusely, coughing will result. Use the following guidelines to de-contaminate upon an accidental contamination:
- wash all affected areas with cool clean water
- remove contact lenses
- wash all contaminated clothing ASAP
- be aware of hypothermia in cool weather conditions
- take short shallow breaths to avoid breathing in the spray
It may take up to 15 – 20 minutes before relief from the symptoms are felt. If the symptoms persist seek medical attention.
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 defence use when hunting, camping, fishing, hiking and biking or whenever enjoying the great outdoors in bear habitat.