Spray vs. gun bear deterrent debate rages in Montana. By John Cramer, Missoulian.

The other day one of the Montana FWP commissioners was out bird elk hunting, got charged by a grizzly. He had no pepper spray and might have killed the grizzly with his rifle. Since then (and it looks like before too) he has been saying guns are best and that hunting of grizzlies needs to resume so they will learn to fear humans, although the dead bear so far hasn’t interacted with any of its fellow bears telling how dangerous people really can be.

In truth, the facts are almost entirely against this guy. It is also true that in the face of a charging grizzly you are not safe whatever you are carrying. Common sense tells you that a sprayed bear that lives has learned a lot more about people than a dead bear.

Note that this is another one of those stories that tries to establish a person’s credibility by how many bones of his ancestors are in the local cemetery.

I’ve got lots of bones there too, and a lot of experience — two backpacking guides to thick grizzly country. I was so grateful when I could stop carrying my .41 magnum revolver and carry spray. After walking a thousand miles that gun gets heavy.

Note that I think it is highly likely that the grizzly is dead because the bear was shot in the chest from a close range and then apparently shot at least one more time. This is based on the news account.

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

92 Responses to Spray vs. gun bear deterrent debate rages in Montana

  1. avatar Mike says:

    What an absolute idiot. A FWP comish who hates grizzlies while promoting devleopment in west Glacier with his own real estate comapny.

    Sounds like a great FWP.

  2. avatar Mike says:

    Edit: I had this story up on my blog a couple days ago, but didn’t realize it had this fallout.

    Was the bear ever found?

  3. avatar Eve says:

    Here’s the link for FWS’ take on bear spray. http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/mammals/grizzly/bear%20spray.pdf
    We use this document as an informational handout on when guiding commercial hiking trips in Yellowstone, as people always raise the question about bear spray vs. firearms. I sincerely hope that idiot ends up getting fired over this!

  4. avatar TallTrent says:

    Part of the delisting process for bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem should have been a requirement for hunters to carry bear spray in the Grizzly Recovery Zones in the three states. Bear spray should also be required for all hunters in the grizzly recovery zones in northern Montana. This commissioner, by acting the way he did and then spouting off about it, has really screwed up the efforts of so many people to get the word out about bear spray and its effectiveness.

  5. avatar kim kaiser says:

    how does a dead grizzly shot by a gun learn to fear a human. guess i dont understain the logic,

  6. avatar Linda Hunter says:

    This story reminds me of the fall that hunting cougars with dogs was outlawed in Washington State. In two weeks there was a story in the paper about some hunters who saw a cougar eat a fawn, they said, and that they wanted to warn people that cougars had mulitiplied three times over since the law had passed and that little kids everywhere were no longer safe. I don’t know how stupid they think the rest of us are. When there is no bear body to go along with this story I wonder. . . after reading the article about Sportsman for Wildlife I believe some of these efforts at getting stories like this published may be well organized and planned.

  7. If you tell a blatant lie long enough some people will believe it. I wouldn’t be surprised if some folks think there a dozens of people eaten by wolves in Idaho, Wyoming and Montana when there hasn’t even been a single attack.

  8. avatar John says:

    Talk about illogical. Dead grizzlies tell no tales, nd a wounded one would have killed him most likely had he not gotten off a good shot. It should be rather obvious that bear spray is quicker on the draw and covers a larger area than a single bullet can, not to mention being a non lethal encounter for the bear.

  9. avatar Shelley says:

    I guess he forgot he was invading the bear’s home! What a shame.

  10. avatar jerry b says:

    A call to the Governor’s office, and or an email, might help remove this idiot from the Commission.
    I’m urging friends here in Mt. to write or call, but I’m sure it wouldn’t hurt to get some out of state calls as well.
    “Governor@mt.gov”
    406-444-3111

  11. avatar Anna says:

    What an Idiot! He should most definately be fired.
    he is not “for the animals” he’s out for himself only.

  12. The governor can’t remove commissioners. He can, however, appoint new ones when their term expires. He needs the consent of the state legislature for a new commissioner.

    My guess is this guy is a holdover from the last governor. Unfortunately he is from the district with a lot of grizzly bears.

  13. avatar tai says:

    It’s easy for bear spray advocates to tell hunters they should “carry bear and know how to use it,” but the devil is in the details. How is a hunter with a can of bear spray in a hip holster or shoulder harness, plus a rifle in his or her hands, supposed to use the bear spray safely, quickly, and effectively during a sudden encounter with a grizzly?

    A 2/8/06 Casper Star-Tribune article titled “Lessons learned from hunter/griz encounters,” illustrates why the use of bear spray is often problematic for hunters: “A quiet hunter can surprise a bear, and the resultant charge gives hunters scant seconds to switch from gun to pepper spray canister. ‘Time and again, hunters said it happened so fast that when they shot, the bear fell right at their feet,” said Chuck Schwartz of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team.

    Time is critical; dropping your rifle and reaching for bear spray takes longer than simply pointing your rifle at the bear and pulling the trigger. In addition, safety concerns preclude hunters from dropping their rifle. In the chapter on “Firearm Safety” in Montana’s Hunter Education Student Manual, the Montana Dept. of FWP says, “If you are alone, follow these steps to safely cross an obstacle [such as a fence]. Step 1. Unload your firearm.” Hunters are taught to unload their firearm before crossing fences or other obstacles because of the possibility they’ll trip or stumble and drop a loaded gun. Dropping a loaded gun is a firearm safety no-no.

    So, the only way a hunter facing a charging grizzly can use bear spray is to hold their rifle in one hand, and reach for bear spray with their other hand. Next the hunter would have pull up on a Velcro flap that holds the can of bear spray in the holster. Now it’s time for a decision. One, you could remove the can of bear spray from the holster, extend your arm to point it at the charging bear, “thumb off” the safety catch, and pull the trigger. Two, you could just leave the can in the holster, remove the safety, and shoot from your hip or chest. Good luck.

    Obviously, these one-handed bear spray maneuvers would take practice to be effective while facing a charging grizzly. Lots of practice. Does the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks teach these one-handed bear spray maneuvers during hunter education classes or firearm safety classes? What about the Wyoming and Idaho fish and game departments?

    Much is made of statistics showing that bear spray is more effective than firearms at stopping charging bears. It’s true hikers using bear spray in Yellowstone and Glacier National Park fare better than hunters using rifles outside the parks. But hikers in the parks aren’t carrying a rifle in their hands. Until state and federal agencies can give hunters facing charging grizzlies–while carrying a rifle in their hands– realistic advice on how to use bear spray, there’s no justification for the very public criticism of hunters like Vic Workman.

  14. avatar Layton says:

    Was he “bird hunting”– one would think with a shotgun. Or was he hunting something else – with a rifle, as the story says??

    Did he kill the bear — as this blog says, — or is it that “No sign of the grizzly was found” as the story says??

    I would agree whole heartedly that dead bears can’t pass along the fear, but is this bear dead, or scared, or laughing, or what??

    Layton

  15. avatar Monte says:

    Animals that are subject to hunting seem to have more fear of humans, at least in my admittedly limited experience. I don’t know the cause for this, it doesn’t make intuitive sense, but I believe it is a fact. Take a look at how elk behavior in relation to humans changes after they migrate out of Yellowstone Park. They are a prey animal that lives in herds, not a predator like bears, but I would be interested to learn of any studies done with predators. I imagine it is difficult to prove either way, as it is probably nearly impossible to validate avoidance behavior in animals.

  16. avatar Monte says:

    In addition, when I am in grizzly country I carry bear spray and, outside the park, I also carry a .44. I worry about having to spray upwind, rain, or other factors that may alter the effectiveness of the spray. I certainly don’t want to face an angry grizzly with a revolver, but I’ve always thought it beats the hell out of a knife.

  17. Tai,

    You raise some good points, but hunters that are charged are not always walking with their rifle in hand.

    What this controversy is mostly about is that the commissioner went far beyond the problem you describe. He wants to write off bear spray. Tell people don’t carry it. Shoot the bears, it makes them afraid of people and will leave people alone.

    This violates common sense about bears being solitary animals and dead bears not learning anything and wounded bears being very dangerous.

  18. avatar jimbob says:

    Somebody else made the point earlier that this “commissioner” is a moron and I’d have to agree. If he really was bird hunting as the story says, wasn’t his shotgun loaded with bird shot? What idiot would count on a shotgun loaded with bird shot to stop a charging grizzly? I wouldn’t count on it stopping a human in most cases (ask Dick Cheney). What gives? Is this story drummed up by this guy? Was the article incorrect? Anyway, I’ll take bearspray over birdshot ANY DAY! SHEEESH!

  19. avatar tai says:

    Issue #1. Practicality of bear spray for hunters. Bear spray is a great tool for hunters in certain situations–like camp. But when hunters need bear spray most–during a sudden encounter with a nearby grizzly–I question it’s practicality. If state and federal officials are going to tell hunters they should know how to use bear spray, they darn well ought to be able to show hunters how to use it during a classic surprise encounter with a grizzly.

    Issue #2. Hunting teaches bears to fear man. I question that, and I’m glad that in the Missoulian article, USFWS biologist Chris Servheen did, too.

    Issue #3. Whent grizzly hunts begin in the Yellowstone region, and the NCDE, teaching bears to fear man is not the issue–it’s all about population control

    During the delisting process for Yellowstone grizzlies, Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming all used “hunting teaches bears to fear man” as part of their rationalization for legal bear hunts. Chris Servheen and the USFWS essentially replied, “that’s nonsense.” But all three states made it clear they had more than enough grizzlies. They wanted to keep grizzly populations at the current level, or, better yet, reduce the number of grizzlies. That’s where hunting comes in.

    You set a mortality limit in 2008 for the entire Yellowstone region of, say, 10 adult females, or 20 bears total, whichever comes first. During the summer of 2008, 4 adult female grizzlies die, and 8 other bears. That fall, hunters get to kill 6 adult females, or a total of 8 grizzlies, whichever comes first. The whole idea is to keep bear mortality at a high enough level so the grizzly population does not grow.

  20. I searched a number of articles to find out what the commissioner was hunting because most just said “he was hunting.” Then I found one that said he was hunting elk.

    I will correct the story to indicate this.

    I found it in this FWP commissioner shoots attacking grizzly bear. By MICHAEL JAMISON of the Missoulian. Missoula.com Magazine.

  21. avatar TH says:

    He killed a charging griz with a shotgun…hmmmmmm……that’s like taking a knife to a gunfight??

  22. TH. See my correction above

  23. avatar Linda Hunter says:

    Tai I am glad you raised some practical issues about what it is like to use bear spray. Most of who have used it successfully in close mad grizzly encounters have had it in their hands unlocked when moving through thick brush. I have lived around brown bears and, even though it was rare where I was, a bear having a tantrum is a truly terrifying sight. If i were a hunter I would make sure I was track aware enough to know when I was in the vicinity of a bear and would have the pepper spray unlocked and ready, maybe in my left shoulder harness where I can reach across with my right hand, I am right handed. I don’t see a need to drop the gun and I think from my experiences that any quick, jerky move on the part of the hunter would make a bear consider contact instead of a bluff charge. That is the wonderful thing about pepper spray, you don’t need to decide what kind of a charge it is. I have seen bears in the midst of a full on ten on the richter scale tamtrum be judicious in what they attack, often taking it out on a nearby tree rather than something they think might remotely hurt them. Of course anything that is scared of them gives them more confidence. If I were a hunter in grizzly country I would first learn to recognize bear tracks in all kinds of substrates, and secondly practice with pepper spray so I got it down. I would arrange my walking gear in a thoughtful way for safety. There are ways to be more safe.

  24. avatar Dave says:

    Last summer I fired two rounds of cracker shell at a grizzly (she had two small cubs) that charged from 25 yards and turned at 10 yards. Three points: 1. The incident consumed maybe 2-3 seconds – any weapon (including pepper) not in hand would have been useless.
    2. With a 20 knot wind blowing, pepper would have been effective only at contact distance.
    3. Most people are unskilled with weapons, and lack both knowledge and wisdom. There will be ‘incidents’ – but that’s what makes life fun!

  25. avatar SAP says:

    Tai – thanks for raising some very important points. I think there needs to be way more effort and rigor in training people about use of bear spray.

    Mark Matheny, founder and president of UDAP bear spray company, can put on a pretty good demo of ways to quickly deploy bear spray. And he should know, since he got mauled by a female grizzly prior to founding UDAP (his buddy stopped the mauling with a little can of pepper spray).

    [disclaimer: I have no financial stake in UDAP, I just have a lot confidence in their products]

    Tai notes “you could just leave the can in the holster, remove the safety, and shoot from your hip or chest.”

    Yes. That’s probably the best thing to practice, actually. That’s what I’ve seen Mark of UDAP demonstrate. UDAP’s holsters are flexible enough that you can crank them around and “aim” a little without actually drawing the cannister.

    It’s possible to practice these moves, because UDAP and others make inert training cannisters that have the propellant but no oleoresin capsicum (active pepper ingredient).

    In a real bear encounter, you may end up with bear spray on yourself with the spray-from-holster technique, but deployed at close range, even with wind, you ought to be able to douse a bear pretty good, too.

    Getting the spray on you will probably ruin your day. But not as bad as getting mauled would. Nor will it harm your hearing (I fired my .308 a week ago and my left ear is still ringing, even though I had my cap flaps down — got to remember the earplugs next time!).

    Linda – thanks for an excellent reminder that bear spray is not “brains in a can.” Bear spray goes along with a much larger skillset and mindset that we ought to hone if we choose to venture into grizzly country.

  26. avatar SAP says:

    Tai – you stated:
    “But all three states made it clear they had more than enough grizzlies.”

    I don’t know about ID & WY, but here’s what Montana FWP’s grizzly plan for southwestern MT says on page 1:

    “Grizzly Bear Management Goal — To manage for a recovered grizzly bear population in southwestern Montana and to provide for a continuing expansion of that population into areas that are biologically suitable and socially acceptable.”

    And on page 34 of same document:

    “FWP expects grizzly bear distribution to continue to increase . . . FWP views linkage as providing opportunities for bears to naturally reoccupy suitable, but unoccupied habitat, and will continue to work with Idaho, Wyoming, and the IGBC to address this issue.”

  27. avatar tai says:

    I’m trying to put the emphasis on how practical is bear spray for hunters, so please “bear with me” (couldn”t resist the pun) on some nit-picky questions. All I’m looking for is honest, accurate answers.

    Here’s what Counter Assault’s website says about using bear spray in cold weather: “Will Counter Assault work in freezing temperatures? Yes, although it may not spray as far below 26°F/-3°C. American and Canadian park rangers carry their Counter Assault under their jackets to keep it warm for emergency use.”

    Seems like it might be difficult to reach your bear spray quickly if it was under your jacket when you startled a nearby grizzly.

    It amazes me, truly amazes me, that bear spray has been on the market for at least a decade and bear spray is touted by state and federal agencies, yet those same agencies have not bothered to do independent tests on bear spray effectiveness in cold, windy conditions. Instead, we’ve got a bear spray company telling us the spray “may not spray as far” in cold weather.

    OK, let’s put our bear spray in a chest harness and wear it over our parka or jacket. Now your bear spray is out in the cold. Now every time you want to zip or unzip your parka to regulate your body temperature. your bear spray harness is in the way.

    Mark’s quick draw bear spray demo: does he do it in real world conditions–wearing a parka or jacket, carrying a rifle, operating the bear spray one-handed?

  28. avatar tai says:

    “Grizzly Bear Management Goal — To manage for a recovered grizzly bear population in southwestern Montana and to provide for a continuing expansion of that population into areas that are biologically suitable and socially acceptable.”

    That strikes me as Montana doublespeak. It’s no surprise that when grizzlies in the Yellowstone area were delisted, the”socially acceptable” boundaries for bears only included about 2/3 of the land occupied by grizzlies. You can’t have more bears than you have bear habitat. I don’t see how we’re going to have the same number of grizzlies in two-thirds of their habitat. I don’t see grizzlies expanding into areas where they’re regarded as social misfits, especially once Montana renews a legal hunting season on grizzlies.

  29. avatar kim kaiser says:

    while Tai”s comments on proper handling of a rifle are the way one is supposed to handle a weapon,, How many hunters, have you ever been with actually do what they are told is the safe way to handle a weapon,, I have huntd as ayoungster, in tom my 30s even, and I hunted with conscientious friends, but you and i know that things like unloading to cross ditches and fences etc. you never get where you were going if you load, unload, load unload, at every rock, fence, dich,, i bet one in a hundred folow those pesky “rules for safety” like most simple rules of common sense, its easy to say I know better and disregard. think of driving a car, if i remeber my driving test, you are supposed to keep your hands at 10 and 2 oclock, when turning, hand over hand, etc..how many so called good drivers acutally drive granny style all the time “like the rules of the road” state you should. i would bet, very very few, and i dont either. Its no less of a safety concern. So expecting even consicientious hunters to follow these rules when and “easier” way is available. it would hold true for bear spray, easier to carry gun or use the gun instead of one more aritlce to get in the way and have to learn how to use it. I would suspect if one took as much time as it takes to sight in a rifle each year,(including the drive time to and from the hillside one shoots into, cost of a the number of rounds, walking back and forth to the target, etc to get that rifle nut on and compare to spending the time to practise quick drawing and releaseing the catch gard with a can of spray to familiarize ones self with using a bear spray, the time would be minimal. But people are lazy, and its not important until its too late, and an easier, deadlier solution is sought (just shoot the damn bear!)

  30. avatar SAP says:

    Tai – part of why I like UDAP is that I did some of my own limited testing on various sprays one cold March day in Lamar Valley. Seems like the temp was in the high teens F. UDAP still delivered a good uniform fog; other brands were a little “clumpy” in the cold.

    Agreed there is much contradictory and some downright stupid advice. Simplest solution when it’s that cold? Fasten (rubber band) one of those oxygen activated “hand warmers” to the OUTSIDE of the holster (it’s easier to shove the heat pack inside the holster, but I’m afraid of overheating the spray). I always have some of those heat packs on hand for hunting anyway, so they’re handy.

    I’ve never seen Mark Matheny do a demo with a rifle in hand.

    Maybe I’m in the minority, but I don’t actually have a round in the chamber of my rifle until I see or hear elk within range. So if I DID drop the rifle, it’s not “loaded” in the sense that most firearms safety instructors are referring to — that is, there is really no chance of accidental discharge.

    And since I don’t carry a round in the chamber, that makes bear spray the better choice for me by far.

    I’ve heard stories of extreme stress where hunters shooting dangerous game (cape buffalo, elephants, bears, big cats) have lost motor control and simply cycled the action without firing a shot.

    Would I do that? I don’t want to find out. My drill is, go for the spray. I can do that faster than I can shoulder my rifle and work the bolt.

  31. avatar SAP says:

    Tai – what delisting documents are you referring to? The 2/3 reference sounds like something from the FEDERAL documents, but I’m not sure.

    Maybe the 2/3 is the amount of OCCUPIED range that will receive strict habitat conservation protections? I have never seen any particular definition or delineation of “socially acceptable” grizzly range, so if it’s out there would you point me toward a document title and relevant pages?

    Anyway, my point is that Montana really IS letting bears expand range and grow in numbers, rather than trying to restrict them inside an imaginary line on a map. Agree or disagree with their desire to have a hunt, FWP should certainly be commended for their progressiveness.

  32. avatar SAP says:

    PS – WRT to the bear spray chest harness being in the way if I want to unzip my parka — well, so is a rifle sling, a backpack hip belt, the chest strap on my backpack . . .

    Since I’m already carrying a backpack whenever I hunt elk, having the spray attached to the left shoulder strap makes sense and doesn’t further complicate my setup.

  33. avatar Robert Hoskins says:

    Wyoming’s bear “plan” is pretty clear about the socially unacceptable line in Wyoming. The plan intends to exclude bears–to the degree that it is humanly possible–from the central and southern Wind River Mountains, the Wyoming Range, and the Salt River Range. All of these areas are biologically suitable habitat.

    The wild card of bear habitat is the Wind River Indian Reservation. It is not yet known what policy the Tribes intend to take toward bear conservation.

  34. As the old saying goes: “One shot, one kill!” You better make sure. One thing about bear spray is that you don’t really have to aim it…..much. General direction is good enough. If you use a gun you need to be able to aim accurately and hit a vital spot in the three or four seconds that you have. If you merely wound the bear you probably have created a far more dangerous situation than you had to begin with.

    “In no cases did use of bear spray appear to be responsible for increasing the extent of injuries…………Grizzlies with bullets in them have gone on to maim many hunters before they died..” …………..”Mark of the Grizzly” 1998..Scott McMillion.

  35. avatar tai says:

    SAP

    I’ve wondered about the round in the chamber issue myself. I grew up hunting small game with a SxS shotgun (rounds in the chamber, safety on) so when I moved out West and started going after big game with a bolt action rifle, I was comfortable with a round in the chamber, safety on. With today’s heightened awareness of grizzly bears in Montana and Wyoming, I’d guess many hunters would have a round in the chamber.

    Bear spray testing. The InterAgency Grizzly Bear Committee suggests bear spray that travels at least 25 feet, and lasts for a duration of 6 seconds. UDAP does not qualify. Only Counter Assault does. But I’ve always wondered who tested the different brands of spray. Was it an IGBC panel, or did the IGBC rely on some informal tests done by the staff at Backpacker magazine back in 1999 or 2000.

    Another issue is, why 6 seconds and 25 feet? The IGBC position paper on bear pepper spray basically argues that “more is better.” That makes sense. But if more is better, why not say bear spray should last 10 seconds and spray at least 60 feet? It seems like instead of having objective standards, the IGBC just set the bar for bear spray at a level one brand of bear spray happened to meet at the time.

    If state and federal agencies really want hunters to use bear spray, routine, independent testing might help (or hurt). Test it at 60 degrees. Test at after it’s been sitting at 30 degrees for 2 hours. Compare spray time and distance. Try it in the wind or using fans. Test it when it’s raining and snowing.

    Wind, rain, snow, and cold are not issues for hunters with properly maintained rifles. Until bear spray advocates can really tell hunters what to expect from bear spray under common environmental conditions, bear spray is going to be a tough sell.

  36. avatar SAP says:

    Tai – good questions. Manufacturers ought to take the criticisms and skepticism seriously.

    I don’t know how they came up with those parameters for testing. Here’s what I think makes bear spray effective:

    % and strength of the OC active ingredient

    number of bursts per can (rather than how quickly the can empties out)

    volume of spray delivered per burst

    size of cloud generated per burst in still conditions.

    Distance doesn’t matter quite so much to me, although my testing with UDAP makes me think it shoots far enough (20 – 30 feet under still conditions). If distance was a primary consideration, that could certainly be achieved but at the expense of a nice big cloud that requires little aim. Law enforcement has OC sprays that come out in a stream instead of a cloud for targeted delivery, so it’s certainly do-able, but maybe not desirable.

  37. avatar Linda Hunter says:

    Two things: One you don’t have to even come near a bear with the spray to stop it. Their noses are 40 times at least more sensitive than ours and pepper spray is a real hurt to them, even if it is not up their snout so to speak. I think the recommendations must be very stringent because there are lots of Americans who are not willing to take responsibility for their own actions. I have always thought that hunters didn’t enter that group. In my experience just the sound of the can emitting spray starts the bear heading in another direction even when the can is almost empty and old. In one case, a big (500lbs +), mad, male black bear was openly stalking a person I was guiding, and I simply showed him the can and he took off like a freight train on a downhill slide. I believe that the learning curve on pepper spray for bears is high and even more effective than guns because they live to see the can a second time. Second thing is you shouldn’t have to surprise a bear if you are paying attention to tracks, sign and the sounds and smells in the woods which is something I thought lone hunters did.

  38. avatar tai says:

    “mad” male black bear stalking a person?

    How can you tell if a bear is “mad?” In bear safety literature, all the agencies are starting tell people that your response to a bear should be based on its behavior–is it a predatory bear stalking you, or a it a defensive bear–you startled a nearby sow with cubs.

    I’d expect a black bear stalking me to calmly but purposely approach on all fours with ears forward. I would not expect to see a “mad” bear or a bear showing any signs of nervousness such as huffing, teeth clacking, blowing or moaning.

  39. avatar Linda Hunter says:

    Tai this bear was mad and I know that because I had just seen the same bear lose a face off with a brown bear, but also because he was biting off vegetation with a snapping jaw (then spitting it out) and swatting at trees. He wasn’t making a sound. He locked eyes on the lady I was guiding and came forward on all fours with ears forward as you describe a stalking bear but he was also pissed off enough to “bump” a boulder and knock it sideways on his way towards us. His eyes were red rimmed and you could imagine a volcano inside just by his manner. Other times I had seen this same bear he was mild mannered and easy going. The difference in his appearence was remarkable. He wasn’t nervous , he was intent on distruction.
    Bear body language can tell you a lot about what is going on with a bear, and you are right the literature asks you to determine a bear’s intent, but there are other things that effect how they act as well. They are real characters with lots of behaviors, however, in this case I would classify it as stalking as that is what is closest to what he was doing. When I showed him the pepper spray I was willing him to come closer so I could get a good shot at him, but it wasn’t necessary as my intent and the sight of the can were enough to totally change his mood to flight. As far as I know this bear had never been sprayed before. In four summer seasons with bears I had to spray one only once and it was a black bear who was in the shed eating the laundry. I went in the shed and brushed past it, then held my nose and sprayed. When the bear took literal flight out of the shed we then had a huge cleanup, but fortunately pepper spray evaporates in a day or two.
    So if someone wounds a bear, or it loses a fight with another bear, or you just cut it off from it’s food supply and you unintentionally keep doing that they can get mad. Unlike humans though, they also seem to cool off fast.

  40. avatar skyrim says:

    “Just the facts, ma’am” Joe Friday
    Fact: A guy goes into the field with a rifle and an Elk tag.
    Fact: He comes back with a few spent shell casings, a trophy head of a 5×6 “non typical” (*) Whitetail Buck and a story about a “huge” Grizzly.
    Fact: Said Grizzly, mortally wounded or otherwise injured is never found.
    Fact: Whitetail carcass has been largely consumed and is therefore unable to be examined for cause of death.
    Fact: Rifle/Deer hunt is over. (More of an assumption)
    Fact: Commissioner is considered a “trophy hunter”.
    What appears to be missing here is any real attention to the details. If I were the Commissioner, I’d be hoping that Mr. Paine remain a “really really good friend”
    This quote sticks out: “As commissioner for FWP, Workman said he’s been trying for some time now to come up with leverage needed to pressure federal wildlife officials into removing Endangered Species Act protection for grizzlies”.

    Me also wonders if the Whitetail were a doe if the head would have been removed. If the intent were to keep a memento of the bear encounter, a doe’s head would do the same thing, wouldn’t it?
    [[whooop, whooop, whoop….. black helicopters hovering overhead.]] ;-))

    (*) A mature whitetail buck will have 8 points, 4 on each side,” Causey (Dr. Kieth Causey, Auburn University) said. “A buck that has more antlers than this, even though he may have a perfect rack, is not a typical whitetail buck. So when you breed or feed for bucks that have more than 8 points, you’re trying to produce an animal that’s unnatural. Non-typical bucks are freaks of nature.”

  41. avatar tai says:

    I’m shocked the Montana FWP has not defended Workman for his comments on bear hunting.

    “Hunting To Address Human Safety Concerns. FWP believes hunting can play a role in addressing human safety issues . . . Properly conducted hunting programs can impact the behavior of the hunted population, making them wary of people.” p.25, Montana FWP Grizzly bear management plan for Southwest Montana 2002-2012

  42. avatar Monte says:

    skyrim, the quote you offer regarding “typical” whitetail bucks was probably referencing and criticizing captive whitetail breeding facitlities. Whitetail bucks do indeed grow larger than 4X4 racks in completely natural settings. Do you ever actually go outside?

  43. avatar jerry b says:

    Here’s a comment from Mack Long, FWP region 2 supervisor…”His total dismissal of bear spray ia a gross injustice”
    Also a comment from Chris Servheen, USFWS head of grizzly bear recovery..”It was a totally irresponsibel thing to say”
    Looks like he’s not being defended by anyone.

  44. avatar elkhunter says:

    Skyrim where did you get this quote? (*) A mature whitetail buck will have 8 points, 4 on each side,” Causey (Dr. Kieth Causey, Auburn University) said. “A buck that has more antlers than this, even though he may have a perfect rack, is not a typical whitetail buck. So when you breed or feed for bucks that have more than 8 points, you’re trying to produce an animal that’s unnatural. Non-typical bucks are freaks of nature.” I dont think non-typical bucks are freaks of nature, there are literally thousands killed every year across the US. Mule deer and Whitetailed deer alike, just look in the Boone and Crockett Record Books. Usually non-typical racks occur as a buck gets older and develops kickers, cheaters and drop tines etc. There are “freaks” like stag bucks that dont shed their velvet and dont have the usual buck hardware.
    Elkhunter

  45. avatar skyrim says:

    Well I did once, and I ran into a guy kinda like you. I beat feet for home and haven’t left the house since…………….
    link: http://www.alabamagameandfish.com/hunting/whitetail-deer-hunting/al_aa120102a/

  46. avatar jimbob says:

    Although in this particular incident the guy was not bird hunting many Grizzly incidents have happened to bird hunters. Wonder what the guy would say to that. You better be carrying bear spray then! But he doesn’t believe in it. It’s saved more people than guns. What is it they say about a wounded Grizzly? Read some of the historic incidents when mountain men, explorers and soldiers decided to “get” a Grizzly. In most cases they learned to leave them alone because firearms were no guarantee of safety. Many people were buried that shot at a grizzly and wounded it. I guess in many cases a wounded grizzly is attacking what is injuring it. This is adaptation. They don’t run–they are not prey. Bear Spray obviously elicits a different response from the bear. A good reason to carry it.

  47. Jimbob,

    I think that’s how I made my initial error in the story. I read the story that didn’t mention what he was hunting, and the stories about grizzlies and birdhunters in Montana filled in the blanks in my perception.

  48. avatar tai says:

    Linda–If the sight of a can of bear spray scared away a very angry black bear that had never seen a can of bear spray before, wouldn’t it be just as effective to wave a can of sauerkraut at the bear? Or a 30/06 rifle?

  49. Looks like i missed a lot of good conversation while in the desert.

    SAP and EVERYONE;

    Keeping a can of bear spray warm with those little “hand warmers” is possible without overheating. Just let the pack get as warm as you want and then cut off the oxygen by securing it to the can with clear packing tape. Don’t let it get too hot before you tape it on. Don’t wait until your hands get cold, as you may not be able to determine how hot it really is.
    Also great in the toes of ski boots and other boots too. I have kept them in as long as seven hours. They last longer and keep a constant temperature too. If you seal them they can be used in gloves, pockets, or whatever. I have never gotten burned or blistered. If you don’t have heated seats, you can sit on them on the way home.
    I stay warm as long as my feet stay warm. I have slept outside of my sleeping bag in Yellowstone with the temp at zero. No special clothing either.

  50. avatar tai says:

    Hand warmers? You can’t be serious. First hunters are supposed to buy a $40 can of bear spray. Next, a $25 chest harness to carry their bear spray. Now, hand warmers to keep their can of bear spray warm, complete with complex instructions on how to attach the the hand warmers to the bear spray with clear packing tape while their hands are at the proper temperature. Good grief.

  51. avatar John says:

    Tai –

    I’m guessing the point of Linda’s post was to show that the bear was sprayed before in the past, and learned to avoid it again, including a mere display of the can. A much more effective lesson learned i’d say than a bullet in its heart. I think its important to add here that a large amount of grizzly encounters and even charges, do not result in physical contact right away, giving the hunter some additional time to retrieve his spray. Being surprised and taking off a quick shot or 2 against the bear is extremely dangerous, more dangerous possibly than playing dead. Wouded bears go for the kill, and only a precise shot will kill a bear. If youre not an expert marksman, shooting at a charging bear like Russian roulette.

  52. avatar John says:

    Well, i guess she didnt quite say that, but it would appear that the bear had been sprayed before.

  53. avatar Linda Hunter says:

    Tai and John, I don’t think the bear had been sprayed before but the whole point of my story is that having spray and knowing how to use it makes it so you don’t need it. More clearly put: bears are masters at body language and my willingness and intent to give it hurt to the nose was enough to turn the bear. VERY often (because I have a book coming out about bears) people tell me about their bear encounters and usually they don’t remember what they smelled like, what the expression on their face was or what exactly they did with their hands. Bears don’t learn to fear people from hunting, they learn to respect confident humans who calmly stand their ground. If you have pepper spray and know how to use it you are a confident person who can stand your ground. People who get flustered and panic when they see a bear give very explicit body language that tells the bear it can pretty much do as it pleases. Often, people have told me that the bear charged them to cover their embarrasment that they just about flipped when they saw a bear. Close questioning and tracking at the scene confirms this. Plus I have guided quite a few people around bears and watched them in their first bear encounter. When you are scared your powers of observation turn inward and you really don’t remember what the bear did, what you did or what the birds were doing etc. Being competent with pepper spray and understanding it as a tool makes it so you won’t need it, or a gun, in most cases, even when a bear is in a pissy mood. I am not the only person who knows this. There are literally hundreds (maybe thousands) of people who work around bears who have learned how to be easy around them and not get hurt. That is not to say, before you bring it up, that bears are not dangerous. A great deal of respect and understanding is needed to spend time around any big animal. Consider people who work around horses. They can tell you that with knowledge of the animal, proper attitude you can work around those big dangerous animals as well.

  54. avatar John says:

    Linda,

    True, how you react during an encounter, may strongly influence how the bear reacts as well. I was just guessing that the bear had previously been sprayed because i read an article somewhere that after the spraying, just the mere sight of the can on subsequent encounters is enough to make a bear turn tail and run, which sounded like the reaction you described. Usually a bear would charge, bluff charge, or at least approach out of curiosity and then leave. What do you suggest to do in a dangerous, sudden encounter though, such as a charge resulting from a carcass being nearby that the bear is guarding, or a mother and cubs situation when the time involved is only a few seconds. Is it possible for spray to be effective in those cases?

  55. Tai,

    Yes, I am serious! If I CHOOSE to be in bear territory I am going to take FULL RESPONSIBILITY for MY PERSONAL SAFETY AND WELL BEING. I purchase proper equipment to accomodate weather changes in the mountains, snow freezing temps, etc. Handwarmers are 2 for a buck. Big deal. It is just plain common sense to always be prepared. I also have chains for my Tahoe and Mini Cooper. Oh, and jumper cables too. I am not going to go out and hope that someone else is going to take care of me or have supplies for me to use. Common sense and my two cents, so to speak.
    ALSO,
    Linda Hunter, in my opinion, has written what has to be the some of the very best and most competant info ever about sharing the woods with bears. My impression is that she is very observant, aware, and intuitive.

    Linda,

    Please post when your book will be available. I look forward to bringing one home!

    Good night…

  56. avatar Linda Hunter says:

    d. Bailey Hill thank you . . the book is coming out April 1, 2008 according to Amazon.com. It is under Linda Jo Hunter.

    John the question you pose about sudden charges is a good one. Because of being able to track bears this doesn’t happen to me to often, but personally I would do absolutely nothing during the initial charge. I wouldn’t move, I wouldn’t take any defense or scared postures. The charges you describe are defensive, not predatory and when I have been charged it happened so fast there wasn’t too much time to make decisions, but my personal one of not moving seemed to work at least so far. In my experience the bear then slows down, slaps the ground, or looks sideways. This is a cruical juncture as what you do in those moments are your life in the balance. Bears don’t know any more about us than we know about them. . if you turn your head slightly to answer the bears body language I believe you are acknowledging, agreeing or something like that not to fight. Spraying a bear in this instance works, but I wouldn’t do that. I would still stay still as the bear is deciding if it sufficiently scared you. If it did, it may charge again, then I would spray the heck out of it. If it didn’t it will move away to keep you from hurting it. I don’t have enough personal experience in the quick charge to save other people, but there are plenty of people who do. I have more experience watching bears deal with each other. The bear who doesn’t flinch in a quick charge just won the encounter and then it is done with and they both go about their business. Sometimes you have to watch carefully or you could totally miss this whole exchange it happens so quick. Animals make quick decisions about whether something they meet is prey, easy to scare or dangerous. In the western states you are at the mercy of a bear’s experience with other people. If a bear has had the fun of scattering hikers off the trail to climb trees and shake in the bushes it might get real interested in doing that with everyone it meets, just like if you charged every bear you met and every time the bear ran like hell and bounded over big trees. . scaring something for them is like a notch on their gun handle and makes them feel more powerful. Think about the way the general public reacts to seeing a bear. It used to be that hunters didn’t have those reactions but now I am not so sure that most of them haven’t fallen into their own propoganda. The statistics of hunter’s getting charged by bears is worrisome.

  57. Linda,

    Great! Here is basic data on the book, and a link to it on Amazon.com

    Lonesome for Bears: A Woman’s Journey in the Tracks of the Wilderness. (Paperback). By Linda Jo Hunter (Author)

    I’ll order an advance copy today.

  58. avatar Grizzlyloverandhunter says:

    Linda,
    Am i mistaking or are you claiming that the bear had never been sprayed before and you showed it the can of spray and it ran off?
    Maybe I just misunderstood what happened, but if this is the case you have got to be joking.

  59. avatar Tai says:

    A Sierra Club paper titled “Bear Spray: It Works!” informs people “There is evidence that firing a gun resulted in maulings by bears originally intended to be bluff charges.”

    How could the Sierra Club know the bears originally intended to bluff charge unless the Sierra Club staff includes a few Timothy Treadwell-type bear whisperers? Can the Sierra Club tell hunters how to distinguish a bluff charge from a real charge? In Bear Attacks: Their Causes and Avoidance, biologist Stephen Herrero says, “grizzlies do not indicate whether their charges are false or real.”

    On the topic of bluff charges, it’s worth noting that back in 2000, the Alaska Interagency Bear Safety and Education committee basically said, there ain’t no such thing as a bluff charge. Biologist Terry DeBruyn made the same point in Walking With Bears. I concur. A charge is a charge. Stand still and the bear is likely to stop short of making contact. Run, and the bear will chase you, and catch you. Both bear spray and firearms help give people the courage to stand still. In the Bear Encounter Survival Guide, James Gary Shelton tells hunters to shoot when a charging bear is 25 yards away. Herrero says to shoot at 50 to 100 feet or even closer. In Backcountry Bear Basics, Dave Smith says hold your fire until the bear is 5-7 yards away.

    In looking at all the debate about the Cal Workman incident here and elsewhere, it’s obvious that a lot of “I’m for bear spray” is really, “I’m an anti-hunter in disguise.” And many bear spray advocates fit in the category of true believers, religious fanatics. They’re calling for Workman’s resignation. It’s almost as bad as if he named a teddy bear Mohammad.

    All the fuss about Workman is going to force the Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho fish & game departments to scrutinize the practicality of bear spray for hunters. By next fall, I don’t think the fish & game depts. or hunters will be so gung ho about bear spray.

  60. avatar Mack P. Bray says:

    The vast majority – some 95% – of grizzly charges do not result in contact between the grizzly and the involved human.

    Bear spray only has to be pointed, like a shotgun, not aimed, like a rifle.

    Bear spray is extremely effective in turning a grizzly once it hits the face/nose/eyes.

    It seems far more sensible to use spray than to take a chance with a rifle because, with a rifle, if the grizzly isn’t killed, it’s only injured, which might make for an even more dangerous grizzly.

    With spray, the grizzly lives and the statistics seem to support the idea that the human is more likely to be unharmed and live. Carrying and using spray seems smarter to me, that’s all.

    Tai said: “…it’s obvious that a lot of “I’m for bear spray” is really, “I’m an anti-hunter in disguise.”

    I hike, hunt and fish in grizzly country and carry bear spray year round as bears sometimes leave their winter dens for a munchie. I do not, when carrying a rifle, keep a round in the chamber as this is dangerous and I would not hike/hunt with anybody that did so.

    Firearms are not allowed in National Parks so bear spray is the only option when you’re in a Park, unless you want to be illegal, of course.

    Cal Workman is *one ignorant man* and should be removed from the FWP commission. Is this possible?

    Mack P. Bray
    My opinions are my own

    wildlifewatchers@bresnan.net
    http://wildlifewatchers.jottit.com/

  61. Tai,

    I think your post made a lot of sense until you said said: “…it’s obvious that a lot of “I’m for bear spray” is really, “I’m an anti-hunter in disguise.”

    No. If you are not hunting, a gun that will kill a grizzly is a heavy inconvenience in the backcountry. Something light that doesn’t require great aim is the rational choice.

    Before pepper spray, I always wore a large pistol in grizzly country. I was glad to give it up for the reason stated.

    What I could say in the pistol’s favor, is that as a backpacker, it really improved the personality of some people I met on the trail.

  62. avatar Tai says:

    Mack:”The vast majority – some 95% – of grizzly charges do not result in contact between the grizzly and the involved human.”

    OK, If it’s wrong for hunters to shoot charging grizzlies because 95% of all charges do not result in contact, I think it’s cruel for hikers to spray bears that are probably going to stop short of making contact. This 95% of charges do not end in contact is so comforting, I can’t understand why hikers even bother to carry bear spray.

    Is there a double standard here? One set of rules for hunters with firearms, and a different set of rules for hikers with bear spray?

    Mack: “It seems far more sensible to use spray than to take a chance with a rifle because, with a rifle, if the grizzly isn’t killed, it’s only injured, which might make for an even more dangerous grizzly.” I think this is an old wives tale. Yes, some charging bears that get shot do carry on and injure the hunter, just as some charging bears that are sprayed carry on and injure the sprayer. But in both cases, the bears generally work on people until they no longer struggle/pose a threat, then leave. Wounding a charging bear with a firearm does not guarantee that the bear will make a beeline for you. Just as often they head for cover.

  63. avatar Mack P. Bray says:

    Tai wrote: “OK, If it’s wrong for hunters to shoot charging grizzlies because 95% of all charges do not result in contact, I think it’s cruel for hikers to spray bears that are probably going to stop short of making contact. This 95% of charges do not end in contact is so comforting, I can’t understand why hikers even bother to carry bear spray.”

    Tai, your logic eludes me. It’s the 5% +/- of charges that result in contact that *everyone* needs to deflect using the most efficient method, whether they be hikers or hunters or hunters that hike while hunting. The problem is, no one can determine if they’re in that percentage, so we can’t take the chance of not spraying.

    Mack: “It seems far more sensible to use spray than to take a chance with a rifle because, with a rifle, if the grizzly isn’t killed, it’s only injured, which might make for an even more dangerous grizzly.”

    Tai: “I think this is an old wives tale.”

    Nope. There’s reports/studies/stats – sources quoted on this blog – anyone have quick access?

    “Wounding a charging bear with a firearm does not guarantee that the bear will make a beeline for you. Just as often they head for cover.”

    You base that claim on what source?

    Tai, I’ve been in grizzly country for over 11 years and I’ve seen dozens and dozens, probably well over a hundred; I’ve have quite a few close encounters and one nightmarish encounter. I’ve never been charged by a bear. I’ve used spray on one bear, and it was a black bear.

    And you?

    Mack P. Bray
    My opinions are my own

    wildlifewatchers@bresnan.net
    http://wildlifewatchers.jottit.com/

  64. avatar Mack P. Bray says:

    To clarify: the black bear I sprayed was an uninvited lunch guest and would not stop approaching my girlfriend and me. I wouldn’t call it a charge, as she was slowing moving in and wouldn’t stop.

  65. avatar Tai says:

    bear spray or firearms?

    A 2/8/06 Casper Star-Tribune article titled “Lessons learned from hunter/griz encounters,” illustrates why the use of bear spray is often problematic for hunters: “A quiet hunter can surprise a bear, and the resultant charge gives hunters scant seconds to switch from gun to pepper spray canister. ‘Time and again, hunters said it happened so fast that when they shot, the bear fell right at their feet,” said Chuck Schwartz of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team.

    In a discussion about firearms for bear protection in Bear Attacks, Stephen Herrero urges people using firearms to practice “shooting hundreds of rounds” until accurate shooting becomes “something you do almost without thinking.” Hunters can train to use their firearms instinctively when facing a charging bear. Hunters can can train to instinctively do “something” with their firearm while reaching for their bear spray. You can’t do both. Guns or bear spray. Pick one. It’s an either/or choice.

    BTW, what’s a hunter using a standard two hand/safe carry supposed to do with his or her rifle while reaching for bear spray? Any suggestions? Remember, a hunter would need to practice the “do something with your rifle and reach for bear spray” drill until it was instinctive.

    Whatever maneuver you think would work, Fish & Game Dept. employees are going to have to be able to demonstrate it in front of skeptical hunters and outfitters.

  66. avatar John says:

    Yes, 95%, and I’m betting that with the precision accuracy it requires to kill a charging bear, that percentage is much worse for people who choose to use a firearm against a charging bear as opposed to spray..

  67. avatar Mack says:

    Tai: “BTW, what’s a hunter using a standard two hand/safe carry supposed to do with his or her rifle while reaching for bear spray? Any suggestions?”

    I’m dropping my rifle and using my spray. I don’t keep a round in the chamber. I’d probably have to resight the rifle, but that’s okay.

    From U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s .pdf file “Bear Spray vs. Bullets”

    “No deterrent is 100% effective, but compared to all others, including firearms, proper use of bear spray has proven to be the best method for
    fending off threatening and attacking bears, and for preventing injury to the person and animal involved.”

    Tai, would you consider U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to be a good source of information and if not, who/what source would you rely on?

    Tai, I’ve lived in grizzly country for over 11 years and I’ve seen dozens and dozens, probably well over a hundred; I’ve have quite a few close encounters and one nightmarish encounter. Let me emphasize NIGHTMARISH. I’ve never been charged by a bear. I’ve used spray on only one bear, and it was a black bear, not charging, but coming in for lunch.

    And you?

    Mack P. Bray
    My opinions are my own

    wildlifewatchers@bresnan.net
    http://wildlifewatchers.jottit.com/

  68. avatar Tai says:

    John–how are people with a rifle in their hands facing a charging grizzly bear supposed to use bear spray?

  69. avatar Tai says:

    Mack–I don’t think that telling hunters they should not have a round in the chamber while hunting in griz country will fly. Yes, hunters are taught not to rely on a mechanical safety. But from pheasant hunters using shotguns in Nebraska to professional hunting guides in Africa using doubles while pursuing elephants and lions, hunters do rely on their mechanical safeties. It’s a fact. Hunting guides in Alaska are generally reluctant to have a round in the chamber, but when they get into a “bearish situation,” there’s a round in the chamber. I don’t see how anyone could fault an elk hunter in the Yellowstone region facing the possibility of a sudden encounter ith a grizzly for hunting with a round in the chamber. But this is an issue the Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming fish & game departments will face in the next few months.

    The statistics on bear spray Vs bullets are a comical but dangerous statistical fallacy that reminds me of a Backpacker magazine article pointing out that every year 3 million people visit Yellowstone, but only 2 or 3 are injured by bears. Yep, and if you carefully look at the Yellowstone stats for the past two decades, almost all the bear-related injuries occur in the backcountry. Ain’t nobody getting mugged by bears in the vast parking lot at Old Faithful. The backcountry injury rate is far higher than the injury rate in developed areas. The popular statistic about the 1 in a million odds of on being injured by a bear in Yellowstone is meaningless.

    Hunters using firearms for protection from bears is one statistic. Hikers using bear spray for protection from bears is another statistic. Research by Herrero/Higgins and T. Smith on bear spray and firearms don’t include any statistics on hunters carrying a rifle who try to use bear spray. I’m surprised the US Fish & Wildlife Service is so out to lunch on this particular topic. But as I mentioned before, bear spray advocates strike me as true believers who’ve turned off their brain and refuse to think rationally.

    Mack–I admire what you’re trying to do with funding for wildlife viewing. I judge people by what they say, not their unproven credentials; I’m not impressed by the substance of what you’ve said about bears here, let alone your limited experience with bears.

    Reliable info on bears is difficult to come by. The public raves about Alaska Bear Tales, Mark of the Grizzly, and Grizzly Man. Bear experts are aghast. Take a look at the short list of recommended references at the Alaska Audubon Society/Alaska Natural History Association’s Living In Harmony With Bear, written by Derek Stonorov, John Schoen contributor. It’s online. Linda Hunter might recognize those names.

  70. avatar John says:

    The point is here…you greatly increase your chance of serious injury or death by shooting at a charging griz. Even with a high powered rifle, there are few spots you can target on a griz to have a successful kill. The last thing you want to do is anger the bear which will most likely be intent on killing you after you injure it. Griz are large animals with very thick skulls and can take a lot of punishment. Honestly i think if i had a gun on me and no bear spray, i would just stand my ground and then play dead if the griz made contact. Look at it this way; if a bear is charging you on all fours, the only spot that will positively kill a bear is a bullet through the heart. The head is pretty much off limits because of the thickness of the bear’s skull. Add to this the fear of being surprised, little reaction time and its obvious that firing at the bear greatly increases your chances of becoming grizzly dinner. Its not even so much the fact that hunters shouldnt be blowing away endangered species who have been removed from more than 98% of their original habitat, but that it is actually safer not to fire on the bear. More hunters need to be aware i think. Watch for bear sign, carrion, etc, walk with the wind when possible.

  71. avatar Mack P. Bray says:

    I think John cover it: “The point is here…you greatly increase your chance of serious injury or death by shooting at a charging griz.”

    And: “…it is actually safer not to fire on the bear.”

    I totally agree.

    “Mack–I don’t think that telling hunters they should not have a round in the chamber while hunting in griz country will fly.”

    Tai, I’m not telling hunters they should not have a round in the chamber. I’m tell you what I do. And I’m telling you I would never hunt with anyone that insisted on keeping a round in, griz country or no.

    “…hunters do rely on their mechanical safeties.” Again, I don’t care if other hunters rely on their safeties. I’m telling you I would not have a round in and rely on a safety.

    “…if you carefully look at the Yellowstone stats for the past two decades, almost all the bear-related injuries occur in the backcountry.”

    That’s probably a factual statement. But unless I’m mistaken, the last death caused by a griz in Yellowstone was in the early 80’s; a young girl that was camping with her family in Slough Creek was killed by a griz. The Slough Creek campground is definitely not backcountry.

    “I’m surprised the US Fish & Wildlife Service is so out to lunch on this particular topic.”

    Tai, in your opinion, who is expert on this topic? Let me rephrase the question: in your opinion, who is most expert on this topic?

    “But as I mentioned before, bear spray advocates strike me as true believers who’ve turned off their brain and refuse to think rationally.”

    Thanks a lot.

    “I judge people by what they say, not their unproven credentials; I’m not impressed by the substance of what you’ve said about bears here, let alone your limited experience with bears.”

    I don’t care if you’re impressed or not with what I’ve written here or with my experience with bears.

    Tai, I’ve asked you twice about your experience with bears and you haven’t responded. How about a direct answer to a direct question: Tai, what is *your* experience with bears?

    Mack P. Bray
    My opinions are my own

    wildlifewatchers@bresnan.net
    http://wildlifewatchers.jottit.com/

  72. avatar SAP says:

    Mack – you are mistaken regarding recent bear deaths in GYE.

    Fortunately, we have made it 21 years since the last fatality: William Tesinsky, photographer, killed in October 1986 just north of Hayden Valley. He had apparently followed a lone female grizzly away from the road intending to get close-up photos of her. The bear killed and partially consumed him.

    Prior to that was Brigitta Fredenhagen, killed at a backcountry campsite north of Pelican Valley in 1984.

    I’ve never heard of anyone killed at the Slough Creek campground.

    William Roger May was killed at a Forest Service campground at Hebgen Lake in 1983.

    A young boy was pulled out of a tent at a campsite at — I think?? — Grant Village within a week after Brigitta Fredenhagen was killed miles to the north. The boy was not killed. Same bear? Same M. O. . . .

    A woman was badly mauled north of the Slough Creek trailhead in 1992.

    I think this is a good discussion and I’m grateful to Tai for hammering away with his skepticism. What a boring, un-productive discussion it would be to just converse with people who totally support bear spray! The skepticsm and what-ifs can help us improve the technology, techniques, and training that go along with bear spray.

  73. avatar Linda Hunter says:

    Tai I can see that no one is going to change your mind on the subject. I also suspect that you think there are many people who are bunny hugger anti hunters who don’t understand what hunting is all about. I grew up hunting and respecting hunters, my father included. I think there are still hunters out there who I respect, but through tracking and being out in the wilderness after hunting season I have seen many things that hunters do when they think no one is looking that has made me kinda lose my respect for a lot of them. In your case you truly believe that to hunt in bear country you should have your gun ready and that pepper spray is for hikers and people who live in “town”. I think, though, that you might not be pursuing this subject so avidly if some part of you didn’t want real answers. Perhaps you will be the hunter who invents the pepper spray gun combination machine that solves the physical problems you imagine in a surprise encounter. And if you invent it, then you won’t have to worry about how much it costs.

  74. avatar Allen Schallenberger says:

    Comments on bear spray and firearms. My background is wildlife management and wildlife research in Montana including 5 years of the first grizzly research outside parks in the state, 10 years cattle ranching in mountains and foothills and 20 years as a general outfitter and wildlife consulting. I have been shooting for over 60 years and trust and respect firearms. While working 17 years as a biologist I stopped both black and grizzly bear charges a number of times with gun fire and killed no bears. I like to have at least two or three bear deterrants. I have spray but know that it does not work well in cold conditions, when snowing or raining heavily, when a strong wind is blowing toward you, in a tent, when a bear is charging through dense vegetation, when more than one bear is charging (I’ve been charged by sow and one two year cub, and I was on a horse.) He panicked and ran and they were right on his tail for about 50 yards.Spray is bad news around horses and mules. Also spray does not work on some bears and some people with breathing problems could kill themselves with it.

    The firearm statistics for bear encounters by the USFWS are a little suspect as they were done by law enforcement after hunting ended and apply to only 1992 onward in the lower 48 states and there is no breakdown by weapon type and caliber of the people mauled. If you look closely at Steve Herrero’s books you will see that he is not comfortable with firearms and has mostly worked in parks all his life. He does show where to shoot a bear and it is the bib below his chin. Alaska recommends putting the first shot in the center of mass and then trying to break a shoulder. Many, many people have successfully shot bears at close range both before and after spray was developed. You cannot compare mountain man black powder weapons to the current .375 Mag, .338 Mag, 45:70 with 540 grain hard cast hot Garrett loads, 12 gauge shotgun with slugs or even the lowly 30:06 with suitable 220 grain loads which have killed many grizzlies and black bears. Large caliber revolvers such as .44 Mag with 330 grain hot Garrett loads are not as good as a long gun but will penetrate full length of a grizzly including through the skull. Bear reseachers often carry them.

    MT FWP has printed nonsense on their website in the past year about fighting black and grizzly bears in your tent with sticks and stones and fighting mountain lions with your fists. Where do you find the sticks and stones in a tent with a floor? What size stick works best on a 500 pound grizzly? Personally I sleep with a short barreled pump shotgun with slugs, .44 Mag with heavy loads, two flashlights or I substitute a 45:70 rifle for the shotgun. I avoid backcountry in national parks because I know that I cannot defend myself there if necessary. Finally the best solution is to use all senses and avoid attacks if possible. Also remember that there are lots of bears, including surplus males, and you have a right to defend yourself. I believe that grizzlies are much more numerous and less respectful of people than they used to be.

    Vic Workman only fired one shot from the hip and he may have missed the bear. He should have been aiming and shooting as soon as possible instead of yelling whoa bear.
    Perhaps his sights were not suited for close range shooting. No one mentioned that he has killed a 1,200 pound brown bear in Alaska and a 450 pound black bear in Montana. So in at least three cases guns worked for him.

  75. avatar Mack P. Bray says:

    SAP, thanks for the info. For whatever reason, I thought the last grizzly caused death in Yellowstone was early ’80’s in Slough Creek campground. Apparently I’m wrong.

    Linda, what about tasers for bears…!

    Mack P. Bray
    My opinions are my own

    wildlifewatchers@bresnan.net
    http://wildlifewatchers.jottit.com/

  76. avatar Linda Hunter says:

    Mack that is an idea. . at the lodge I worked in Alaska the guides I trained weren’t allowed to have guns and often guests asked me what would happen if the pepper spray didn’t work. We had a backup plan that included the CO2 fire extinquishers that each of boats carried. I believe, although I never had to try it, that a blast of co2 would put out the fire of an encounter gone wrong. However, I maintain from what I have seen that having a weapon to stop a bear is secondary to learning how to behave around bears. What I mean is that the bears in the west must have a really skewed picture of humans. . there are the hikers who exhibit nervous behavior and then the hunters who shoot on sight just about. They must think that humans are a very unpredicatable animal indeed. Bears are quick learners and show evidence of thinking problems through. I believe that we need to change human behavior and then hunters and hikers and everyone else in between can live successfully with bears. If it takes arming hunters with a method of stopping bears that doesn’t kill them, then we should do that. I know that even though I understand bears better than the average person who hasn’t spent as much time with them that I won’t sleep on the ground in grizzly country without an electric fence. I believe that you are like a meat cache in a tent. A curious bear would have to get their paws on that if they were hungry. There are some interesting research papers about places where humans and bears have learned to be around each other with trust. Here is a quote: ”
    3) There is evidence that habituated brown bears are less likely to threaten or attack hikers or bear viewers on a per-encounter basis (Jope 1983, Nadeau 1987,Aumiller and Matt 1994, Smith et al. 2005). In Yellowstone no roadside bear viewers have been injured by a brown bear. At McNeil River Falls State Game Sanctuary, in over 28 years and roughly 60,000 encounters between brown bears and people, a bear has never injured a person, nor has a bear had to be removed or killed. At McNeil there have been 13 documented charges by brown bears toward people. However, none of these has been by a fully habituated bear (Aumiller 2003). An important, recent research finding in this regard is that brown bears in very low-density populations appear to have the highest rate of attacks during encounters with people (Smith et al. 2005). This is consistent with bears in higher-density populations being more tolerant of each other and of people because of greater bear-to-bear interaction rates and the advantage of conserving energy in such contexts. ” That whole paper can be seen at: http://www.wildraven.net/carnivores/ursidae/grizzly/habituation/report.html

    I believe that without feeding bears garbage and then teaching people how to act around them that we won’t need to USE pepper spray very often at all. The close encounter charges that people appear to experience in the western states seem to be a product of confusing human behavior.
    ( and other factors of hungar etc. that would be eased if bears weren’t so banished) I think the bears smell a human and have learned to deal with the ensuing panic, or attack, by attacking first and fast. By all appearance and research on bear behavior we have taught them to be that way. Bears in Alaska are vastly different in their approach to humans.

  77. avatar Allen Schallenberger says:

    Linda,

    It has always appeared to me that inland, mountain grizzlies and coastal grizzlies (brown bears in Alaska) have somewhat different aggression tendencies. Coastal bears are well fed and people often get close to them. On the other hand some of our MT grizzlies have charged me from as far away as 300 yards in alpine habitat. As for habituated bears they are probably more dangerous to people in MT, for example the bear that killed and ate the photographer in YNP and the camper in the tent at Hebgen Lake. Meat eating bears, ungulates, YNP area seem to me to perhaps be somewhat more aggressive than NW MT grizzlies which eat a lot of plant foods. As for fences are you aware that tent campers in the Many Glacier area of GNP are required to sleep in fenced compounds. Cliff Martinka Chief Biologist in GNP for over two decades would not let his family hike or camp in the park. He was my office mate in graduate school at Bozeman. He worked under Glenn Cole on his graduate research in Grand Teton Park. Cole now dead did not like bears. He carried a gun and shot many bears which showed up near his camps in the park.

    One of the reasons that grizzly bears were listed is because his policies killed between 158 and 200 grizzlies in YNP. Dr. Richard Knight friend and the bear researcher who followed Craigheads, told me that Cole killed practically every back bear in YNP because he thought they were garbage bears. For a long-time starting in the late 1960’s you did not see many black bears there.

    Bear population pressure has put bears into many areas where they can easily conflict with people. There did not used to be grizzly conflicts in the towns of Choteau and Dupuyer on the plains and now they are present. A bird hunter was mauled east of Dupuyer this year.

    Someone mentioned that grizzly bears have scenting abilities 40 times greater than humans. Recent research by an MD has shown that their ability is about 1,000 times greater than a bird dog which greatly exceeds humans ability.
    Do not trust bears very much. Every individual bear and situation is different with them. They sample things with their mouths and paws. What’s this, crunch! What’s that, swat!

  78. avatar Linda Hunter says:

    Allen it is nice to have your experience to lend to the discussion. I don’t trust bears very much, or horses or house cats or racoons. I think I trust skunks the most. They give you clear body language before they spray. You are right there are a million different combinations that people can get into with bears. Giving an answer for what a person should do can’t be done by anyone else. I know my own experiences with bears which were sort of cross between coastal and inland bears in Alaska, both brown and black, being fortunate to spend an avearage of five hours a day in the company of one kind of bear or another for four seasons. Out of that experience I have come to trust bears more than humans, but that is not saying much. For me next season when I visit Montana it will be learning all over from scratch.

  79. avatar Tai says:

    Cut to the chase, and here’s what bear spray advocates are telling hunters:
    1. Hunters greatly increase the chance of serious injury or death by shooting at a charging grizzly. It is actually safer not to fire on the bear.
    2. It’s unsafe to hunt with a chamber in the round. Even in grizzly country, we do not recommend that hunters keep a round in the chamber and rely on a mechanical safety.
    3. If a hunter decides to carry his rifle in a two hand/safe carry and keep a round in the chamber an—meaning you’d just have to point your rifle at a charging bear, flick off the safety, and fire—we recommend using bear spray.
    4. If you have a sudden encounter with a grizzly while carrying your rifle in a two hand/safe carry, drop your rifle and reach for your bear spray.
    5. If you’re not willing to drop a your rifle on the ground, hold the rifle in one hand, and use your free hand to operate bear spray one-handed.
    6. “Before you head into the field, mentally rehearse a worst-case scenario with a grizzly bear—you are more likely to be able to respond appropriately if you have imagined an encounter and mentally practiced a response than you are if you have never tried to think your way through such an event.” Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, Parks Hunter Education, Chapter Nine, Special Hunting and Safety Concerns
    7. Do not mentally rehearse or physically train to use your firearm for self-defense in grizzly country. The last thing you want to do during a sudden encounter with a grizzly is instinctively reach for your rifle. Instead, mentally rehearse and physically train to drop/remove your rifle from the action, and use bear spray.
    8. The agencies that tell you to stake your life on bear spray have not tested bear spray performance in rain, snow, wind, or cold. Don’t worry about it.

  80. avatar Linda Hunter says:

    Tai what the heck is your point? An agency, biologist, naturalist a person who knows bears cannot do anything to help you. You have to figure out your own life and not blame an agency’s shortcomings for results of your own situations. So you don’t like pepper spray and don’t intend to use it, do want the rest of us to applaud you if you kill a bear, or do you want to blame someone else if you get hurt? You have defined this problem as you see it over and over again. . now what is your solution?

  81. avatar Mack P. Bray says:

    Allen, you sound like a super-safe combination of old-style firearm defense and progressive-thinking bear spray advocates…!

    Mack P. Bray
    My opinions are my own

    wildlifewatchers@bresnan.net
    http://wildlifewatchers.jottit.com/

  82. avatar Mack P. Bray says:

    Linda, will you elaborate: “I know that even though I understand bears better than the average person who hasn’t spent as much time with them that I won’t sleep on the ground in grizzly country without an electric fence. I believe that you are like a meat cache in a tent.”

    When I first hit Greater Yellowstone I was sleeping under the stars, with a tarp as backup. So one night I had a nightmarish experience with a grizzly (unrelated to shelter) and I vowed to never backpack alone in grizzly country and I haven’t.

    A buddy said “You know, a tent can’t stop a bear, but it might, just might deflect a curious nose.” Which seems rational, so I’ve used a tent for years. But electric fences?

    Mack P. Bray
    My opinions are my own

    wildlifewatchers@bresnan.net
    http://wildlifewatchers.jottit.com/

  83. avatar Tai says:

    Linda–the point is, I’m not the one whining about Vic Workman shooting at a charging grizzly rather than using bear spray–I’ve just asked the pro bear spray crowd for realistic alternatives in real world hunting situations. None. Nothing. Zip.

    Given that you’re the one who first made the error of mentioning bears making “bluff charges,” it seems presumptuous for you to give me a lecture about people who “know bears.” None of the people here who “know bears” were aware that “bluff charges” have been passe for a decade.

    Mack wants me to brag about my experience with bears to verify that I’m qualified to speak about bears. Am I the only one here bothered by your story of covering your nose and then spraying a black bear in a shed. I’m not a bear guru, but I sure hope your weren’t wearing contacts when you sprayed the bear. Bear spray stings the eyes. Funny the pro-bear spray gurus didn’t know that.

    “In four summer seasons with bears I had to spray one only once and it was a black bear who was in the shed eating the laundry. I went in the shed and brushed past it, then held my nose and sprayed. When the bear took literal flight out of the shed we then had a huge cleanup, but fortunately pepper spray evaporates in a day or two.”

    I’d appreciate it if the people here who “know bears” could provide meaningful responses to straightforward questions about bear spray.
    – – – –

    Tai,

    A number of people have taken time to discuss this with you, including a couple of comments by myself. I think a lot of information has been generated and yes, questions remain. I sorry you’re not satisfied, but folks volunteer their effort to answer. It seems like Linda Hunter, in particular knows bears. Webmaster

  84. Your kidding, right ? Do you really want “meaningful responses”? I would imagine that if a bear could talk to you, that even it’s responses would not satisfy your “straight forward” questions. Whatever it is you are looking for, may not exist. Everything that has been written in response to you, you have refuted as bogus except for Allen Schallenberger. My impression from what you have written is that you think everyone’s first hand info/experience is a load of garbage and you just don’t like any of the responses.
    If how to deal with a bear encounter has you stumped, i suggest you hunt in bearless areas.
    People percieve situations differently and some people get a very strong “gut feeling” that determines reactions.
    Good luck.

  85. Tai,

    See the comment I attached directly to your last comment.

  86. avatar TallTrent says:

    Bear Spray is more effective than firearms:

    http://www.absc.usgs.gov/research/brownbears/pepperspray/pepperspray.htm

    ” Dr. Stephen Herrero and Andrew Higgins of the University of Calgary, Alberta initiated an effort in 1993 to gather information regarding the use of bear pepper spray in parks, refuges and other areas where these sprays have been carried for a number of years. From this work they produced a paper titled “Field use of capsicum spray as a bear deterrent” which was presented at the 10th International Conference on Bear Research and Management, Fairbanks, Alaska. They summarized their findings as follows:

    “We analyzed 66 cases of field use of capsicum sprays between 1984 and 1994. Regarding aggressive brown/grizzly bear incidents associated primarily with close range encounters, in 94% of the cases, the spray had the effect of stopping the behavior that the bear was displaying immediately prior to being sprayed. In six cases, the bear continued to act aggressively; in three of these cases the bear attacked the person spraying. In one of these 3 cases, further spraying caused the bear to stop and leave. Of the three encounters that resulted in injury to the sprayer, two involved a mother with cub(s) and the other involved a single bear. In all three injurious encounters, the bear received a substantial dose of spray to the face. While it can’t be known for certain how these encounters would have ended out in the absence of spray, the use of spray appears to have prevented injury in most of this type of encounter. Regarding brown/grizzly bear incidents associated with curiosity of searching for human foods and garbage, in 100% (20/20) of the cases the spray had the effect of stopping the behavior that the bear was displaying immediately prior to being sprayed. The bear left the area in 90% of the cases.””

    I still think that carrying bear pepper spray should be required by all hunters in the grizzly bear recovery zones. It is better for the hunters and better for the bears.

  87. avatar Linda Hunter says:

    Tai if bluff charges don’t exist why have I had so many bears run at me and stop short . . what do you call it then? The fact that you don’t believe my stories indicates to me that you have never worked with pepper spray and yes I do wear contact lenses. I didn’t say it was comfortable but is does dissapate fast. Once a can leaked in my car so I set it on the front window while I went for a hike. When I came back I took wrapped it tighly in plastic cause I didn’t want to just throw it on the ground. When I turned on my defroster on the way home I got another shot of it. Whew. It is not nice but that is what it is supposed to do.

  88. avatar Dave says:

    Well,

    I am a hunter as well as an advocate of bear spray, who has used it in a real world situation, successfully, the chances of dropping a bear in a one shot panic situation is very low, as was proved by a course given in Wyoming a few years ago, where real world scenarios were set up with a group of 40 outfitters, in surprise situations, none was able to acquire or hit the bear targets. I have used bear spray twice, and am still here to talk about it…some people just can’t get over the fact, that the possibility exists that there may be something more effective, which is fine, it is up to you to choose your life saving, but a person working for the FWP dept that advocates shooting bears as well as de-listing does not belong in the position he holds, I have no problem with Workman’s opinions, but his opinions are not that of the agency, hence he needs to be back in the private sector..as far as brands, that is here nor there, in a bear situation I would hope to have any of them…the person who asked about guidelines, they were established by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee in conjunction with several bear biologists who did the actual testing of the various concentrations as well as spray characteristics in various situations.

  89. avatar Dave says:

    And if your effectively instructed on how to use Bear spray, it can be deployed very effectively and very fast, you don’t have to take it out of the holster to spray the product…it can be sprayed from the hip if needed, and I have done this many times in training situations..

  90. avatar Dave says:

    “funny the pro bear crowd don’t know that bear spray stings” Now where in the heck did that come from, anyone who has ever been around strong peppers in their meal knows PEPPER STINGS…I see a lot of rhetoric in this thread, but not many with actual experience, which of course tells ya, they are working off of opinion as well as speculation

  91. avatar John says:

    Backpacking in the White Mts. in Az. last year, I took my bear spray in the tent with me and put it in the hanging pocket on the side of the tent with the safety tab pulled out, ready to spray at a moment’s notice. I had read that hunters take 60 bears a year in Unit 27/Apache Sitgreaves so I figured I had it, why fumble in the dark? Preparation is….. . But, stupid me, I accidently knocked it from the hanging pocket onto the floor of the tent without realizing it and later LEANED ON IT with my elbow, while getting my sleeping pad ready, etc. Well at the very first sniff, I knew what it was, as I had pratice sprayed it the year before in Sequoia about 40 yards from our camp, but, stupid me (again), I didn’t calculate the very faint breeze blowing toward our camp, which caused my brother-in-law and I to cough a little about 5 minutes later. No big deal at all, but we then realized we actually had a pretty neat deterrant/weapon. Well this time in the White Mts., the second I smelled it I knew exactly what it was and very quickly and calmly unzipped my tent, held my breath, closed my eyes really tight and escaped the tent just as fast as I could. The spray constricts your breathing, making you only want air and to leave the area (hmm, bears probably feel the same way). You can’t stop coughing and if it gets on your skin (WHICH IT DID – on my face no less!) it gets really, really hot and feels like it’s burning you and scares you the first (and only, I promise) time you experience it, because you don’t know how much worse it will get. Well, call me anal, but I also happened to have UDAP’s “bear spray antidote” (or whatever they call it), which, I was urgently urging (yelling for) my brother-in-law to get out of my pack, since my eyes were closed like a vise, not wanting to feel that very bad burning sensation in my eyes also. Well, after about 45 minutes I was pretty much back to normal, but the first 15 minutes were pretty exciting. I don’t know if the spray antidote was any better than soap and water would have been, but I was sure glad I had it at the time (take note, you have the ability to be stupid on occasion also). Then, 45 minutes later I cleaned up the little one inch by 6 six inch puddle of bear spray on the bottom of my tent as best as I could, burning the socks that I used to clean it up with and making darn sure to warn my brother-in-law not to get anywhere near the fumes. After that my tent was sleepable but every once in a while I would have a brief coughing fit. I then went from one side of the scale to the opposite side. Initially I was on the well prepared side, able to defend my bro-in-law should he have gotten attacked in his tent (in my mind, due to the fact that on our last hike, even though I warned him – a lot – not to bring in ANYTHING that smelled into his tent, he completely disregarded my advice and had some red licorice he was munching on during the night. Something those curious black bears with olfactory senses 1,000 times more sensitive than a dog would love to search out and eat, maybe even the supplier of that snack!). So, after clean-up and getting comfy in my tent, I was about to fall asleep in a spicy, deliciously pepper-smelling tent, waiting for a bear to come a snacking. But only somewhat uneasy, due to an article in Backpacker Mag about a family that thought bear spray was indeed an all purpose deterant. They proceeded to spray their camp and later had bears come visit them because they were attracted to the smell. Please, no-one respond with “Well what good is bear spray if the bears are attracted to the smell” (it’s not the smell that is the deterent, but the constriction of their breathing and the extreme stinging/burning of their very sensitive nose, eyes, etc.). NOW, was it wise to have the safety off the spray in the tent? Maybe not, definitely not wise for me that time! But I’d have to say that since I had to go through that, I trust myself to remember at all times NOT TO TOUCH THE PEPPER SRAY (bold print helps you remember things, right!?) and yes I probably will keep it with the safety off and in the same hanging pocket. Even given all that, will it actually help me if a bear decides, foolishly, to come after me instead of my bro-in-law, like my plan dictates? I have serious doubts, just like the doubts I have about being able to defend myself with a 10″ knife from a bear ripping into my tent next trip, curious about the bleach smell that I used to wash away the pepper smell from my previous learning experience. FINALLY, I actually bought a bear fence, very much against my wife’s wishes (tooo muuch money!) a few years ago with the well intentioned purpose of protecting her and my two daughters while we sleep in bear country. Only weighs three pounds or a little more, including batteries. Worth taking? Maybe next trip, what with the pepper and bleach smell and all! How much do assualt rifles weigh??? Bear-free, for now!!

  92. avatar TallTrent says:

    http://www.westyellowstonenews.com/articles/2007/12/28/opinions/opinion1.txt

    “Grizzly Bears Deserve Tolerance Too” is an excellent response to the Vic Workman situation.

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‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

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