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Bear spray works

BEAR SPRAY is perhaps the single best protection measure in a close human–bear interaction. Put simply, “bear spray works”. Bear spray is an effective tool for anyone working, living, or playing in bear country and is recommended by Bear Conflict Solutions Institute staff.

Here is some useful information:

  • Bear spray is a useful self defense tool to deter bears (and other wildlife) at close range
  • The main ingredient, Capsaicin, inflames respiratory tract (mucous membranes of nose, eyes, mouth) and can cause temporary loss of sight and breathing restrictions
  • It is an effective non lethal deterrent that has been to shown to stop undesirable behavior of aggressive black bears (100%) and grizzly bears (94%). Ninety-eight percent of people in close range encounters were not injured when bear spray was discharged (view REPORT below)
  • Bear spray should be readily accessible, on a belt with a quick draw holster – not in a backpack or on a bike.
  • Be aware that bear spray can disable the user and can be affected by wind and temperature extremes (above + 40 and below -18 degrees Celcius)

Bear spray is available at most hiking and outfitter retail locations or by contacting the Bear Conflict Solutions Institute.

For a quick review of how to actually use bear spray ,
check out this video from YourAlberta…

REPORT: Efficacy of Bear Deterrent Spray in Alaska

ABSTRACT We present a comprehensive look at a sample of bear spray incidents that occurred in Alaska, USA, from 1985 to 2006. We analyzed 83 bear spray incidents involving brown bears (Ursus arctos; 61 cases, 74%), black bears (Ursus americanus; 20 cases, 24%), and polar bears (Ursus maritimus; 2 cases, 2%). Of the 72 cases where persons sprayed bears to defend themselves, 50 (69%) involved brown bears, 20 (28%) black bears, and 2 (3%) polar bears. Red pepper spray stopped bears’ undesirable behavior 92% of the time when used on brown bears, 90%for black bears, and 100% for polar bears. Of all persons carrying sprays, 98% were uninjured by bears in close-range encounters. All bear inflicted injuries (n¼3) associated with defensive spraying involved brown bears and were relatively minor (i.e., no hospitalization required). In 7% (5 of 71) of bear spray incidents, wind was reported to have interfered with spray accuracy, although it reached the bear in all cases. In 14% (10 of 71) of bear spray incidents, users reported the spray having had negative side effects upon themselves, ranging from minor irritation (11%, 8 of 71) to near incapacitation (3%, 2 of 71). Bear spray represents an effective alternative to lethal force and should be considered as an option for personal safety for those recreating and working in bear country. (JOURNAL OF WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT 72(3):640–645; 2008)


REPORT: Are Firearms effective in a bear encounter?

There has been much discussion regarding the efficacy of bear spray and/or firearms; is one better than the other? Research regarding the efficacy of suggests that bear spray may actually be a more effective and a safer way to deter bears.

For more information regarding firearms and bear spray, click to view this report.

Living With Wildlife

Living With Wildlife Bear Conflict Solutions partnered with Bow Valley filmmaker Leanne Allison to create an exciting new film.

Bear Blog

Bear spray works

Bear on the run How bear spray works. Why it works. How to use it. Where to buy it.

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Bear Conflict Solutions Institute Bear Conflict Solutions Institute
(formerly the Karelian Bear Shepherding Institute of Canada)
313 8th Avenue,
Canmore, Alberta T1W 2E6
Phone 403-609-2242 or email