Wyoming hunters kill 4 grizzly bears . . . all related to elk hunting

Here is a shocker from the Casper Star Tribune today.

Wyoming hunters kill four [or more] grizzlies. By Whitney Royster. Casper Star-Tribune environmental reporter.

The grizzly no longer has federal protection in Wyoming (delisted). Wyoming’s penalties are lighter (on paper), but the high federal penalties were almost never levied. The outcome of this, assuming it was not self defense, will tell us a lot about how delisting is going to affect the greater Yellowstone grizzly bear . . . a slap on the hand and likely 20 grizzlies will be killed next year.






  1. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    Note the headline wasn’t “Hikers kill four grizzlies” or “Wildlife watchers kill four grizzlies.”

    No, the headline was “Hunters kill four grizzlies.”

    Every year we see the same damn headline and you can bet your last dollar the vast majority of those killings were done by hunters who were bluff charged and mistook the charge for an attack.

    Again, some 95% of grizzly charges are bluff charges. The remaining 5% INCLUDE being knocked over, hit, blocked, whatever, by a grizzly. Out of that 5%, some ARE actual attacks, an attacked being defined as a grizzly touching a human. The vast majority of attacks are not fatal.

    The Wyoming Game and Fish Department “highly recommends” that hunters carry and use bear spray.

    It should be the law that hunters carry and use bear spray.

    Regarding charging grizzlies, all experts at state and federal level recommend bear spray over bullets.

    Wyoming Game and Fish policy is that in cases of “bona fide self-defense,” people will not be charged with any violations for killing grizzlies.

    Scenario 1: Hunter decides to not carry bear spray. Hunter’s alone. Grizzly charges (in reality it’s a bluff charge, but the hunter doesn’t know this). Hunter shoots and kills the grizz. Game & Fish investigates and finds there are no witnesses, only the hunter’s testimony. Grizzly’s dead. Gotta be a case of “bona fide self-defense,” right?

    Scenario 2: Hunter “becomes enlightened” and decides to carry bear spray. Hunter’s alone. Grizzly charges (in reality it’s a bluff charge, but the hunter doesn’t know this). Hunter sprays and turns the grizzly away. Hunter changes his/her underwear. Game & Fish is not bothered to investigate this incident; they’re busy investigating scenario 1. Hunter’s alive. Grizzly’s alive. Gotta be a case of “bona fide self-defense,” right?

    Scenario 3: Hunter “becomes enlightened” and decides to carry bear spray. Hunter’s alone. Grizzly charges (in reality it’s an ATTACK charge; the grizzly intends to ATTACK, but the hunter doesn’t know this). Hunter sprays and turns the grizzly away. Hunter changes his/her underwear. Game & Fish is not bothered to investigate this incident; they’re STILL busy investigating scenario 1. Hunter’s alive. Grizzly’s alive. Gotta be a case of “bona fide self-defense,” right?

    The wildlife of Wyoming, including grizzlies, buffalo and wolves, belong to ALL the people of Wyoming. Which scenario do you think the people of Wyoming would prefer?

  2. d. Bailey Hill Avatar

    Have “accidental” killings gone up since they were delisted? It would be helpful to know if they are experienced and if they are non-resident. Did any of them shoot at color only, then found they shot a bear? Do bear and elk winter coats look similar? I hope they release some info and determine the cause. It may not go well for the griz if they wait for a couple more seasons to make a broad comparison.

  3. Linda Hunter Avatar
    Linda Hunter

    Well written Mack. . as a tracker, however, I always wonder about the case of hunter is alone and grizzly charges. . I would love to go to the scene of these encounters and read the tracks, because without me doing that the huner, who is alone, can claim anything he wants and the bear is not going get to tell it’s side. Many times I have seen the story on the ground differ vastly from what the scared person says happened in other instances. But since we have to believe the one witness, your scenarios, which would be the worse case, illustrate the need for hunters to carry pepper spray.

  4. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    Linda, your tracking knowledge and services would be most useful in many of the so-called “investigations.”

    You’d have to be on-call and how would you ever arrive on scene before the tracks were useless?

    Are you a professional tracker? I’m curious about what you do.

    I’m interested in improving my tracking skills; didn’t you recently recommend a web site? Would you please post it again?

  5. mikarooni Avatar

    I’ll repeat what I have said before; when you go to gun shows and other such shadowy hang-outs for the right-wing Republican fringe, you hear a secretive, but increasing drumbeat from people associated with anti-ESA, rabidly pro-gun, and fringe hunting groups. There has always been an irrational and extreme hatred for carnivores; but, recently, since the lifting of the most severe penalties for killing grizzlies, there has been much more talk about how bear spray is useless and that “real men” rely on bullets. I honestly do not believe that there is any coincidence here. I believe that we are seeing a generally unforeseen, because it is hard to believe that even Republicans can be this sinister, consequence of the delisting process.

  6. elkhunter Avatar

    Mikarooni, do you have any reliable sources as to your statement. I was just at a gun-show, a large majority of people that attend gun shows are not even hunters. I did not hear one person talk about shooting any sort of a predator, besides maybe a coyote. How is a gun-show a “shadowy hang out”? Guns are what made this country, just ask the British. Your statements to me seem way out in left field, and more of your opinion and devoid of any facts. I know lots of Democrats that attend gun-shows. Seems alot of ASSuming and stereotyping, but I guess I could expect that from a left-wing, activist, tree-hugger, democrat. Pardon the stereotypes, but you see my point.

  7. elkhunter Avatar

    A quick question though Mikarooni, why do Democrats hate guns so much? I am just curious.

    Just an interruption here, Elkhunter, I guess you’d say I was a Democrat. I just picked up my Ruger 41 magnum revolver from the gun shop. My wife just got a new holster for her .357. I don’t talk guns much on my blog because all of sudden there are “experts” with their 700-yard shots 😉 That’s all there would be talk about . . . .!

    There is a bumper sticker on a fair number of vehicles around Pocatello — another gun-toting Idaho Democrat!

    We have three guns in the house. None are for hunting!


  8. catbestland Avatar


    It appears that Mikarooni’s satatements are observations, not statement of fact. What reliable sources are required. And even there were “reliable sources” provided, wouldn’t that be a matter of subjectivity? What is reliable in your eyes might not be in anothers. This is a blog. People are allowed to opine as they see fit as long as it is not offensive to others.

    Mikarooni your comments are valid and well appreciated


  9. elkhunter Avatar

    Valid and well appreciated? They are thoughtless stereotypes and ASSumptions and accomplish nothiong. How can you even place any value in what he said. Thats like me saying that you are a tree-hugger, an activist and hang out at “shadowy wolf conventions” where a bunch of left-wing democrats talk about using wolves to get their demands passed. Now obviously I would hope that you would not say that those statements hold water and are well appreciated. I know its a blog and people can say what they want, but please dont place any value in what he said. If you follow his line of thought, then what is Ralph? He owns a gun. Or for that matter anyone who has ever attended a gun show? Lots of people attend gun shows just to purchase guns that they use for other purpose beyond hunting. What of all law-abiding gun owners of America? And by calling anyone who goes to a gun show as “shady” I would say that some people would be offended by that.

  10. elkhunter Avatar

    Ralph, I have no problems with guns, or democrats, I just bought a new .270 for my deer hunt in CO. My only point was how ignorant Mikarooni statements were.

    Cathy, I am just a little confused how you can say that those comments are valid. If I used that same stereotyping and ignorance in reference to activists you would probably not think that they were valued or well appreciated. Thats my only point.


  11. catbestland Avatar


    Are you trying to say that right wing republican fringe groups do NOT hang out at gun show? Of course they do. He is saying this is where you can hear this sort of drum beat. The author’s point here, as I see it is that there exists an irrational hatred of carnivores. You happen to notice it more at a gun show where like minded ones tend to gather. I own a gun to and I did not take that as an insult and I bet Ralph did not either. It seems here to that there is concern for bears after delisting.

    These are very valid concerns. I hope he can find some answers here without being harrassed out of the blog. No one should be made to feel like they have to justify their opinion eith documentation of how they came to their conclusions unless they wish to provide this. This is not a court of law. Opinions don’t require certification.


  12. catbestland Avatar

    Oh, and I am a tree hugging activist that hangs out at shadowy wolf conventions. If I could find one that is.

  13. elkhunter Avatar

    Cathy, ASSumptions and stereotypes.

  14. elkhunter Avatar

    Its those stereotypes and ASSumptions that you are always claiming with the ranchers and the wolves. That they are not educated about the situation. That they are following old “stereotypes and ASSumptions” about wolves. That they are bad, will ruin livestock and ungulate populations. So why is Mikarooni’s use of stereotypes and ASSumptions correct, and the rachers stereotypes and ASSumptions are incorrect? You cant eat your cake and have it to. SO how can he use that tatic, yet ranchers cannot?

  15. Jim Avatar


    I will say that both your’s and mikarooni’s assumptions have some truth to them. Having been to a few environmental gatherings they are mostly social gatherings. Also you need to reword your “guns made this country statement. It should read, “guns RE-made this country,” as the people already here when the Europeans showed up weren’t using guns.

  16. Linda Hunter Avatar
    Linda Hunter

    Mack and others who are interested in tracking. First visit http://www.ispt.org then http://www.jhardin-inc.com http://www.utstrackingservices.com http://www.tracknature.com http://www.beartracker.com There are many more, but these are some of the places I studied and trackers I know. To see part of what I do you can look at my site http://www.strumminbear.com I have done many things, boat captain for 30 years, guiding, writing, art and lots of wilderness work. I am working on my next book and building a house now . . sort of tied down right now but next summer I should be on a book tour for my first book. I know lots of people post semi-annoymously in these kinds of blogs, but I have never had any trouble being who I am. I could just sign all my posts tracker or something but I believe this and other wildlife forums are too important to play computer games with . . after all, Ralph signs his real name. Thanks for asking Mack and I hope you do look into tracking.

  17. Jeff Avatar

    I’d like to know what I am? I live in Teton County, Wyoming, and hunt elk alone in grizzly country. I’m registered as a Democrat though I voted for more Republicans then Democrats in 2006 (for numerous reasons too complex to explain here). I own numerous guns, though I dislike the NRA. As a hunter I do not like the SFW groups and their anti-predator pro-feedground stances as I am pro-wolf and pro-free ranging elk and bison. I carry pepper spray (required only of hunters in GTNP), but kind of wish I had a 41 mag like Ralph’s. I’d like to say that I’ll use my pepper spray before my rifle, but I’m not 100% sure how I’ll react if I’m charged by a griz. I belive Mack at least to the point that most charges are bluffs, though I’m not completely sold on the 95% number. In three seconds or less can one really ascertain whether or not this is a bluff charge or a full blown attack? Are you ready to roll the dice? I believe the sypathetic nervous system will play a role at this point and with a wife and two small children at home I’ll probably due whatever is necessary to make it out alive in the end. I have also seen how wind can eliminate the effectiveness of pepper spray when I was stalked by a wolf from the Teton Pack several years ago in a stiff 30mph Wyoming breeze. Ultimately I shot towards the wolf (not at the wolf) to get it to stop stalking me. The reason all of these judgements of people hunting are somewhat worthless is that no two scenarios in the backcountry are identical and it is easy to judge others from the comforts of the living room far removed from the place that all of the hypotheticals actually play out. I read much more than I post, I just thought I’d add my two cent today.

  18. Dan Stebbins Avatar

    Not that my opinion matters at all, but I’d say you are someone who can’t be classified. You probably give those people that pigeon hole folks as “left-wing liberal” or “right-wing conservative” aneurysms. Keep it up!

  19. SAP Avatar

    Jeff and others:

    very good honest point about the sympathetic nervous system taking over. That’s part of the richness of being in grizzly country — that heightened awareness, that intense focus, that brain stem level response to being out there with the Real Bear.

    We don’t know how we’ll react. I may talk a good game, but I know from times I have run into grizzlies at close range how the first few seconds of the encounter usually involve a lot of useless terror responses on my part. Thank goodness for the patience and good attitude of most bears so far!

    I don’t know how available it is, but Safari Club and others put out a handy little booklet quite a few years ago about hunting in grizzly country. It had some very frank language about how high-stress situations like grizzly encounters tend to totally wreck our fine and gross motor skills.

    One take-home lesson for me was that you need to drill drill drill with whatever you choose as your defense system — even if it consists entirely of planning on “playing dead.”

    Another lesson was that pepper spray SHOULD (if you adhere to the first lesson) be far more reliable under stress because it is far simpler to operate and requires little in the way of accuracy. I have read accounts of people merely cycling the action on a rifle or shotgun — without remembering to pull the trigger!! — when confronted by dangerous mammals. I know from stress-practice with my 870 that it’s dang easy to jam a shotgun when you get in a hurry, too.

    I am skeptical of many of these defense-of-life kills, at least from a factual standpoint if not legal. I am skeptical that there are that many cool-headed marksmen in the woods, able to put a lethal bullet into a flat-out charging grizzly. I think that a lot of these amount to shoot-on-sight kills. (Elkster, I’m not running down hunters in general, just making a logical observation).

    By the way, the one incident north of YNP when the one guy sprayed the female grizzly and his partner ended up killing her with the .44 — I wasn’t there, but there is a possibility that she broke off her first charge because it was a bluff, or because the sound and sight of the pepper spray scared her without her also getting a lungful of the stuff. Maybe a second burst would have stopped her. Who knows?

    Bailey Hill – I don’t think kills have gone up since delisting, but the year isn’t over yet. I think it’s another bad whitebark pine year (the agencies’ ability to determine GYE-wide cone crop is getting worse as more and more trees die ecosystem wide). Prosecution of defense-of-life claims was non-existent under FWS, and will likely remain so. [Interestingly enough, the fine for killing a grizzly will probably be higher with Montana FWP in charge than FWS.]

  20. timz Avatar

    Jeff, having studied (and continuing to do so) wolves in depth I would like to hear more about your wolf story. I am not doubting you but a wolf stalking a human is rare so I would be very interested in the details. How did it finally end? And thanks for not shooting it 😉

  21. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    Jeff, I live in Teton County, Wyoming, in the county, not the city, and occasionally hunt elk with a buddy in grizzly country. It’s safer to not hunt or hike alone in grizzly country – as *I am sure you are aware* – with a wife and 2 kids at home (?) – and besides, he’s a far more experienced hunter than I am. I’m registered as a Democrat though I’m really more independent and vote as I please. I own numerous guns and despise the NRA and Sportsmen for (some) Fish and (some) Wildlife. I am pro-wolf, pro-grizzly and pro free-ranging elk and buffalo. I hike many miles every year (never hunted in GTNP) and always carry pepper spray in black and/or grizzly country no matter what my activity is. I own a Ruger .357 Magnum but I do not carry it in the great outdoors. I can say that my strong intentions are to use pepper spray before bullets. I’ll have to get you a good source for the 95% bluff charge number. As far as determining whether a charge is a bluff or an attack, I doubt *anyone* could ever make the distinction, no matter the time frame, 3 seconds or 30 seconds (grizz thinking about it; partial charge; more thinking; charge) or whatever. There’s just no way to tell if it’s a bluff or an attack until it’s over. We roll the dice when we make the decision to go into grizzly country. We should “fix the dice” as well as we can (carry and use bear spray) so the odds are with us, not against us. We do know, for a fact, that bear spray is more effective than bullets. Ralph wrote a great post to this end. Check this: http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/mammals/grizzly/bear%20spray.pdf

    I entirely agree with you, do whatever is necessary to make it out alive in the end, including killing the grizz in self defense. I know I would.

    In the Teton Wilderness, on Wildcat Ridge, a grizz was in our face – me and a buddy – not my hunting buddy, but a Yellowstone ranger – and the wind was in our face, too. The grizz was, how shall I say, really unhappy to see us. Bear spray wouldn’t have been useful in the wind. We weren’t charged, but I sensed that h/she was really close making the decision to move in on us. We didn’t have any firearms. So we rolled the dice and won.

    Ain’t life grand?

    Will tasers hit their target in a stiff wind? Tasers for bears? HA…!

  22. SAP Avatar


    Regarding the 95% are bluff charges — as Kip told Napoleon Dynamite over in Preston, “like anyone can even know that.” 😉

    It’s one of those things we can’t really know, especially, as you outline in your Scenarios, because ideally humans will non-lethally STOP any charge, whether bluff or with ill intent.

    To KNOW a percentage, we’d have to have very good accurate reporting of encounters, and we’d cease trying to deter these charges. If it IS 95 %, then the unlucky 5% who experienced an earnest charge would need to have little video cameras on their hats so we could ascertain their awful fate.

    Also relevant but practically unknowable would be bears charging other bears.

    I think maybe Doug Peacock may have written something regarding his own long experience of withstanding charges; evidently, though, he has so far experienced 100% bluff charges.

  23. SAP Avatar

    PS: My own experience is quite limited with close range bear encounters (no charges ever, and I’d like to keep it that way), but I have spoken with federal bear trappers who have had a lot of exposure to upset grizzlies.

    By their accounts, bluff charges tend to be high-headed, sometimes accompanied by lots of ground-slapping with the front paws.

    For a good example, see the opening shots of that old National Geo video “The Grizzlies” (1987) — the bear comes down a small hill, high-headed and sort of “windmilling” with her fronts. I don’t know what she was charging at, maybe the cameraman? Anyway, she breaks off the charge and goes back to her big cubs.

    An earnest charge, on the other hand — I’ve heard that they come in with the head low, flattened out, hardly making a sound . . . eg., Willy Fulton’s account of the bear that evidently killed Timothy Treadwell and Amie Hugenard. Dick Knight described a similar charge by a wounded female grizzly near Mack’s Inn, ID in the 1980s (remember that, Ralph?).

  24. d. Bailey Hill Avatar

    About grizzly encounters; A bear’s sense of smell can pick distant odors. The scenario: the wind remains at a constant speed and direction, and neither bear or person aware of the other, the person hears the grizz coming before seeing it and stops. The bear stops when he sees the person and stays partially in the brush and neither makes a move. Finally the person makes the first move, but not a retreat, and moves casually as if the bear were not there. The griz doesn’t move, so the person starts backing away very, very slowly, stopping at intervals, and using a foot to move bits of wood now and then, {and trying not to fall over all the stuff she had climbed over}. The person keeps that up until there is enough distance to move faster and eventually faces forward walking fast, after the bear was gone. Did the wind play a roll in the situation, as it not blowing scent at the bear??
    I am very interested about what everyone thinks of that.
    This happened in the evening just before the daylight completely disappeared. And at the end of September.
    The following evening I finally freaked out.

    Jeff—-I am a “can’t be classified” also. It is not from indecision. I guess it is how my brain is wired.

  25. SAP Avatar


    How close were you? Sounds like you were off trail. Did the bear seek cover, or merely remain in cover?

    Sounds like a very interesting and rewarding encounter! I think there are LOTS of such encounters, except that the person is usually unaware that an encounter happened. Not everyone is that observant.

    Depending on distance (must have been fairly close if you could hear it coming), I’d say the bear knew what you were even if it couldn’t smell you, but I could be wrong.

    I have bumped into grizzlies that seemed to be trying to figure out what I was (distance of less than 50 yards); once they moved directly downwind of me they got the heck out of there . . . either I really needed a shower or they really didn’t want to be around people.

    Anyway, maybe the bear couldn’t tell what you were since it couldn’t smell you.

  26. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    SAP, it finally came back to me…! It was Dr. Steve French that said some 95% were bluff charges, but you’re right, how could anyone possibly know the actual percentage. As far as ID’ing a charge as bluff or attack, I wonder how many charges initiated as bluffs turn into attacks and vice versa (if it even happens). Do grizzlies ever “change their mind” in mid charge – bluff to attack and vice versa? How many instances have grizzlies executed one or more bluffs and decided to come back and attack? Perhaps we’ll never know…

    d. Bailey Hill, I’ll bet that the grizz did *not* pick up your scent. Similar to SAP’s experiences, I’ve observed grizzlies from a downwind vantage point and had the wind change, giving them a sniff, and I’ve got mental videos of those grizzlies running off after they picked up the scent. Watched one monster grizz run some 1/2 mile into cover.

    SAP wrote “I think there are LOTS of such encounters, except that the person is usually unaware that an encounter happened.” SAP, my Yellowstone ranger buddy tells me that many times, from high vantage points, he’s observed grizzlies browsing and saw hikers approaching the area. The grizzlies picked them up (visual, auditory, olfaction, or combos), moved out of the area, the hikers passed through, unaware of the grizzlies, then the grizzlies moved back into the area and resumed browsing.

  27. Dave Smith Avatar
    Dave Smith

    Bluff charges? Five or six years ago many of Alaska’s top biologists and bear experts met for an Interagency Bear Safety and Education Committee meeting and said there ain’t no such thing as a bluff charge. Alaskan bear brochures for the NPS, Forest Service, State Parks, and US Fish & Wildlife Service are phasing out the term Bluff charge. If bears made up their mind–before charging–that they were going to “bluff” by stopping short of making contact, then you could run from a charging bear and your action would not influence the bear. Your actions do count. Stand your ground and the bear will probably stop short of making contact. Run and the bear will probably give chase, catch you, and injure you.
    – – –
    To interject, I think this is pretty interesting. We don’t really know a bears’ mental process. Obviously it doesn’t think with words. . . no, “I’ll try to scare this ugly critter first.”

    The bear may simply start to run toward you. Subtle movements, smells, size, etc. are just so, and so it reaches out and hits you or swerves away.

    Nevertheless, most of what we call “charges” do not end up in contact, and we have some influence over what happens.

    Ralph. Webmaster

  28. catbestland Avatar

    I once watched a Marty Stouffer show (anybody remember him?) that said if you were anywhere hiking in the forests of Colorado, there was probably a bear that knew exactly where you were. Of course this would be a black bear but I suppose the same could be true of grizzlies in areas of higher population of that species.


  29. d. Bailey Hill Avatar

    Distance– 22 yards. I was off the trail. I had been crouched behind a couple logs and kind of leaning against a tree watching a huge bull elk for about 30 minutes. He was stomping at the ground and raking with his antlers. He must have lay down and stood up at least a dozen times. He had clods of grass and sod hanging from his antlers. Then got up and walked towards his “girls” to get them round up for the night. The grass was tall and i wanted to see where he had been. I could not get close enough to see, as I did not want to disturb any of the grass. I was enjoying the moment when I heard the grizzly trudging towards me. He was stopped and stayed mostly in cover. I guess I had wandered into “wildlife central” . It was really cool. I know what you mean about passing and not knowing. However , I have found out three times, because there were people wide eyed and jaws dropped, who saw it. One of the times was the east side of Glacier Nat’l Pk a year when the grizzlys had to come to the lower elevations for berries. It was a bad year for berries. I mention this one because it was a Ranger we came across with wide eyes and staring at us. So surprised, it was a few moments before he spoke. It was a male and huge. I think we must have been making an equal amount of noise and didn’t hear it or see it. The ranger wasn’t convinced we had not seen the bear because, “it was just too large to miss” he said. We came to a sign on the trail. From that point on it was closed. It was early afternoon and the ranger saw this bear twice before.{late sept}. I have many stories about quite an array of wildlife encounters. Last Oct in Alberta, east of Jasper and then south in the mountains towards the end of the road, I was taking photos sitting and when I brought my camera down, I was literally nose to nose with a female bighorn sheep. We just kept looking at each other until she decided to catch up with her heard. Oh my gosh! That was one of the best moments ever!!!

    There are only a couple of people who will go hiking with me, because I always see bears.

  30. Jeff Avatar

    TimZ-I have a multi page write up of my experiecne if you’d like it I’d be happy to email it to you. This happened in 2003. I immeidatley reported it to Ed Bangs, Bill Long of Wyoming Game and Fish and Ralph, but I haven’t ever made it public other than my friends and family.

  31. d. Bailey Hill Avatar

    SAP– I found the pocket size notebook with the exact info; the distance from that bear was 27 feet not 22 yards. So it was almost 10 yards!!

  32. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I think Jeff’s story, when he told me in 2003 made a lot of sense, and it was clear why the Teton Pack was following him.

    At the time, I had hoped he would write it up and send it for my old web page.

  33. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    Dave, that’s very interesting information about Alaskan agencies phasing out the term “bluff charge.” How are they describing the “post-charge” scene? What I mean is, how are they describing charges that do not end up with contact and charges that end in an attack?

  34. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    I would go hiking with you.
    as far as bear stories one of my daughters lives in Cordova, Alaska and sees both black and brown bears all around that area on a regular basis. She says that a week without seeing one, usually within about 50 yards is really unusual.

  35. d. Bailey Hill Avatar

    I don’t of any studies that have addressed the bears olfactory senses. It would be a fantastic discovery to find an odor/scent that would keep a grizzly at bay. That woulg take very careful experimentation. I remember watching a science show about creating an odor so horrible that it could be used to disable or repell “enemy invaders”. The fact that is was serious research made it extremely funny! I would like to see that again! I really would not want to smell anything that was worse than the skunk that took up residence under a house I was renting. This skunk kept a schedule; Everyday day at noon and at 8:30 pm it made it’s presence known with a fresh spritz. The only thing we caught in the trap supplied by the fish and game guy, were two extremely angry possum. I moved.

  36. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    d. Bailey Hill wrote “It would be a fantastic discovery to find an odor/scent that would keep a grizzly at bay.” Pepper spray’s about the best we have at this point in time…!

    If my math is correct, a grizzly’s sense of smell is about 210,000 times greater than ours, according to Dr. George Stevenson, a pioneering neurosurgeon. Here’s the article: http://www.casperstartribune.net/articles/2007/08/27/news/wyoming/068db307718a7d7d872573430020fb1b.txt

  37. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I don’t know if your math is correct, Mack, but the bear’s sense of smell is amazing, and so I would think that pepper spray should really give it a jolt, unless I don’t understand the mechanism by which the hot pepper essence (caspisum?) causes its irritating sensation.

    I have been told it will work most most animals, but have not experimented.

    Has anyone here sprayed a dog, cow, moose, etc?

  38. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    Ralph wrote: “Has anyone here sprayed a dog, cow, moose, etc?”

    I’m taking the fifth. 🙂

  39. Jean Ossorio Avatar
    Jean Ossorio

    I’ve never applied the stuff, but years ago our springer spaniel slipped out the door and was pepper sprayed by a somewhat trigger happy U.S. Postal Service employee. The poor dog ran into the house howling. While we were trying to get him into the tub for an immediate bath and eye washing, this generally docile old guy nipped my husband.

    His reaction was certainly one of immediate avoidance of the fellow with the spray can–putting as much distance between them as possible.

    By the way, after seeing the scars of previous canine encounters on the arm of the sprayer, I could sympathize with the mail carrier’s reflexive reaction, even if it was misdirected at our dog.

    As for future avoidance, I have no idea whether our dog would have been more put off by the smell of pepper spray or the odor of the guy wielding the can.

  40. Vicki Avatar

    My husband left my bear spray in the window of our van a few years ago. It got hot and leaked. He and my son were in for quite a surprise when they got in, and the defroster sprayed them both with bear spray. Burning doesn’t do the feeling justice. My husband actually had chemical burns on his stomache. hey both said their noses/eyes and lips first felt like fire, then got numb. They had obvious swelling. Given a bear’s hightened olfactory senses, I’d guess the smell would be even worse to them. But I don’t think the smell is nearly as bad as the burning of mucousa and conjunctiva would be. OUCH!

  41. Vicki Avatar

    I wonder if they could create a bear sized tazer (sp?) I would guess that if the bear were right on top of you, you’d have a good chance of tazing it. That’s a better option than shooting the bear. Tazing people doesn’t lose efficasey upon repitition. I read tha bear spray is less effective if you use it on a bear more than once. Maybe tazers wouldn’t lose their effect on a bear that’s been tazed. Or maybe it would work about the same as rubber bullets do. None of these things are as good as the old saying “AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN A POUND OF CURE.”

  42. d. Bailey Hill Avatar

    I need to elaborate about stinks…. This goes way beyond pepper spray. They make various combinations of really nasty bits from landfills, like dirty diapers, and other unharmful ingredients, in a giant fermenter/composter and basically distill the stuff. They want to make the absolute worst odor ever, that by just smelling it, is enough to keep whatever away, far away, a hasty retreat. An odor so vile the person is parylized, figuratively not literally. An immobilizing nefarious stink…. When smelled the person can only think about getting away from it. In other words, A smell that would stop the devil! he,he The purpose is for use in a war, as opposed to biological, nuclear, chemical, bombs etc. If I remember correctly this is a US Dept. of Defense project. The method of dispersal was not discussed. I am not joking. This is a serious project. However, this makes me laugh hysterically to the point of tears!!!

  43. d. Bailey Hill Avatar

    Jeff E– If I lived in a place like your daughter, where I could see bears that often, I doubt my feet would ever touch the ground! When I was a kid I spent some time with a Native American family who had two kids close my age. There were lots of reasons I loved going to their house. One of my favorites was that we saw bears almost every day!
    Being near the wildlife is like a perfect sunny day.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan