Bear Spray is a kind of bear deterrent spray that is used to scare away wild bears that might be charging at you aggressively or chasing you. Long ago, pepper spray was used to deterrent bears. Though it worked at a certain level, it was not as effective.
Then in the middle of the 1980s, the bear deterrent spray was invented by a graduate student of the University of Montana.
A bear spray which had a range of 30 feet and a seven minutes spray time, was developed. It was an aerosol spray and still is to this day. So, what does bear spray do?
What Is Bear Spray?
Bear spray is simply a high concentration of pepper that is used to deter aggressive or charging bears. Carrying bear spray on your person can give you better peace of mind while hiking in bear country,
But it will not ensure your safety – if a bear attacks you, it will still be very dangerous.
The most effective use of bear spray is to prevent a bear attack by not surprising a bear and making noise enough to avoid a surprise encounter.
Suppose you do come across a bear at close range. In that case, the best deterrent is to take your pack off, stand up (standing sideways may make you look bigger),
Make yourself as big as possible, hold your arms out, yell loudly at the bear while backing up slowly and if the bear continues to approach, spray it in the face with your canister.
Types Of Bear Sprays
There are different types of bear sprays available in the market. Some sprays have a spray time of 4-6 seconds; others last for 15 seconds. Then there is varied depending on the length that is covered by the spray. There are small sprays that can spray up to 15 feet.
On the other hand, the strong variant of the sprays can spray up to 30 feet. It is recommended that you use a bear spray with a high spray rate if you are visiting a place that has a high density of wild bears.
Rules Of Using Bear Spray
There are rules and regulations that specify exactly when and where you can use bear deterrent spray. The standard rules were set by the University of Montana originally. The recommendation set by the University of Montana is sufficient to protect yourself from an attack from a bear.
You should in no way use a bear deterrent spray to harm wildlife or nature. Some of the common and most useful rules are stated below for the betterment of your journey.
- When a bear is trying to attack you or charging at you
- When multiple bears are attacking or charging at you from different directions
- If a bear trying to follow you continuously
- If a bear attacked someone else in front of you and you need to drive away the bear to protect yourself.
- You can use bear deterrent spray for bears that are exceptionally aggressive or are in a violent state. For example, a mother bears protecting her children, or a bear protecting fresh food can be exceptionally aggressive thus dangerous.
- You can use the spray depending on the weather condition or tackle your fear while facing a bear just to drive it away.
- Use it to reduce the number of attacks in a single area that might be occupied by one or more bears.
- Always use bear deterrent spray only on wild bears. Do not use it on other animals as it might not work on them or be harmful to their lives.
- You should never use to spray on yourself, you’re clothing or your other stuff. Use only at the bear when it is charging at you. Always try to give the bear a chance to get away and also try to get yourself to a safe distance.
How To Use A Bear Spray
Bear spray is only to be used at a bear when the bear is charging at you at high speed or trying the attack you or anyone besides you.
You should to intentionally approach a bear and use bear spray on it. If you see a passive bear just strolling or taking a rest, avoid that bear and do not use the bear spray on it.
It is essential that you know beforehand that how the spray works. You have to study the mechanism of the spray and practice spraying before you go to the wilderness.
It will be very difficult to figure out how to spray the bear deterrent spray when you need to if you don’t have any experience from before.
Here we will elaborate the mechanism of the bear deterrent spray: First, you will have to remove the safety clip. While doing this, you will have to put your thumb in front of the curled lip, and then you will have to pull back.
While spraying, you will have to hold the spray container firmly as there will be high pressure, and there is a chance that you might lose balance and tilt the container.
It should be known that you do not have to aim at the bear directly. Just spray it slightly downward while facing the charging bear. If the bear stops and starts to run away, then you can stop spraying.
But you will need to be ready to use the spray again if the bear chargebacks again.
Always put the bear deterrent spray in an accessible place, so you don’t have to look for it in a bear attack. As a bear is very fast while it’s running, you will have to be very swift while operating the spray.
This is why it is best to try out yourself beforehand in an open field. Make sure you don’t use it on anything or any person while practicing.
What Effect Does Bear Spray Have on Bears
When a bear is running, it needs to breathe deeply. When a bear breathes into the deterrent spray, what happens is that the bear breaths in the Capsaicin that is present in the aerosol spray.
Capsaicin causes the inner parts of a bear’s body to have an inflammatory effect which distracts the bear from attacking its prey.
The mouth, throat, nose, eyes, and lungs of a bear are affected when it inhales the deterrent spray. This spray also swells up the bear’s nose and blocks it from having a sense of smell.
It also blocks the vision of the bear as its eyes become watery and its vision becomes blurry. The hearing of the bear is also reduced in this process.
The Risks Of Using Bear Spray
Some risks of using bear spray improperly include:
- Inhalation of the fuel, which can cause choking or coughing.
- Exposure in eyes due to incorrect usage. Remember that when you spray bear spray, it leaves an oily residue on surfaces and your hands. If this residue gets in your eyes, it can cause temporary blindness. This is why the manufacturer instructs you never to spray bear spray directly at bears, people, or any animal. It is also important to note that if you plan on using bear spray against an attacking dog (i.e., protecting your child), the oily residue left on your hands by the bear spray can make it more difficult for you to grab and hold onto the attacking dog.
Frequently Asked Question
Why Do I Need Bear Spray?
The effective range of most canisters is about 30 feet, while wind impacts how far the spray will reach. The reason why bears are deterred by bear spray is that they have a keen sense of smell. Pepper gets into their mucous membranes and irritates, and causes pain.
This is generally enough to make them leave. The fact that the bear spray is a non-toxic food grade product makes it safer for both you and the bear than bullets or larger canisters of pepper spray, which are designed to disable humans such as assailants in an attack situation.
What Happens After You Use Bear Spray?
Here are some facts about the effects of different bear spray ingredients. Bear deterrent products containing capsaicin and related capsaicinoids (pepper spray) temporarily cause blindness through severe irritation of the eyes, an intense burning sensation of the skin, and forcing the closure of the tear ducts.
Capsaicin is the active ingredient that makes hot peppers hot – you could just substitute jalapeno or habanero pepper in your food for an idea of how hot it is.
Why Is Bear Spray Stronger Than Pepper Spray?
Pepper spray is created by extracting the “heat” (capsaicin) from peppers and using that to create a chemical aerosol spray. The point of creating bear spray was to provide something that would deter an attack and have more stopping power than pepper spray made for humans.
Because bears are much larger than humans, they require more of a solution to affect them. The capsaicin in bear spray is the same as pepper spray, just multiplied by a factor of 10 or more to create something that will have effective stopping power.
Is Bear Spray Lethal?
In short, no. There have been zero recorded human deaths from exposure to capsaicin, the primary ingredient in bear spray.
Bear spray is a very effective tool to scare away any wild bear and save yourself from a bear attack. Every traveler exploring the wilderness should consider bringing at least one bear spray with them.
The traveler should also be careful of the rules of usage of the spray, as well as the process of spraying. I hope now you know what does bear spray do.