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Old 04-02-2014, 06:04 PM   #21
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So, what's the deal with pepper spray? Is it legal to carry while hiking in Canadian parks? What makes the difference between "bear spray" and that intended for humans - just the label?
Am I better off just forgetting about it and telling my wife that bear attacks are so infrequent that there's nothing to worry about? (Probably the truth anyway.)
My wife carries pepper spray that she bought in Canada. We taped the receipt to the can and have never had problems crossing customs with it.

The one and only time she had a reason to use it, she cussed out the bear for scaring her and never even got out the bear spray. (I know how the bear felt). To my knowledge, your odds of slipping and drowning or getting hit by lightning are higher.
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Old 04-02-2014, 06:26 PM   #22
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Ray,
Forget the idea of taking firearms across into Canada. It's not Florida! There is too much red tape getting the legal permits and too much trouble if your caught illegally carrying. I would suggest taking someone along you can out run and let them carry the bear spray for something to do while their getting mauled by a brown bear.
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Old 04-02-2014, 08:14 PM   #23
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My wife carries pepper spray that she bought in Canada. We taped the receipt to the can and have never had problems crossing customs with it.

The one and only time she had a reason to use it, she cussed out the bear for scaring her and never even got out the bear spray. (I know how the bear felt). To my knowledge, your odds of slipping and drowning or getting hit by lightning are higher.
See, I told you guys that our wives are WAY scarier than bears.
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Old 04-02-2014, 08:32 PM   #24
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When I bought my can of bear spray I asked how effective it was and they replied that they've never had anyone return to complain about it I think there are three differences between bear spray and human spray: (1) bear spray is more potent and potentially fatal to people, (2) bear spray is typically larger, and (3) intent (always a tough thing to prove). Bear bells are not recommended in some of the BC parks (Cathedral I think) because they attract the bears who associate the sound with food. I'd still carry the bells anyway. Its better to be approached by an aware bear than to surprise a bear. BTW the moose aren't any safer to be around. At least we don't have alligators and pythons.
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Old 04-02-2014, 10:13 PM   #25
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My belief (utterly unsupported by experience) is that bear spray is intended to put up a cloud of noxious fumes between you and the bear, to prevent it from charging -- it comes out of the can in a cloud. Self-defense pepper spray is intended for the targets eyes, and comes out in a stream.
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Old 04-02-2014, 10:30 PM   #26
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I bought a device ( looks like a ball point pen ) for firing "bear bangers". They fire a projectile about 100', making a whistling sound and then explode with a tremendous bang.
The salesman told me not to point it at the bear. If you miss, it will explode behind the bear and it will run in your direction. Supposed to fire it straight up.
Practiced once and managed to set a grass fire.
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Old 04-02-2014, 10:48 PM   #27
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We bought bear bangers, but never used them. I'm not sure if we've had pepper spray (for any purpose), but I remember talking about it for bears.

The difference in the pepper spray products is probably just the labeling and size: a cute little purse-sized can is not going to be even marginally useful against a bear, so it will likely be considered a weapon for use against people... and is pointless to carry for bears.

Rifles and shotguns are routinely brought into Canada from the U.S. by hunters, but it does mean paperwork. Most handguns are useless against bears (except as noisemakers), and all of them are not worth getting across the border. The classic "Dirty Harry" 44 Magnum is reputed to be somewhat effective against bears, but I wouldn't bother trying to convince anyway that was a legitimate reason to bring one in, and you couldn't carry it anyway. Despite this lack of firepower, we don't get eaten by wild animals.

Now, if you go to place where polar bears are common (such as Churchill, MB), and you are outside and away from buildings, someone in the party should be armed. Black bears and grizzlies are not polar bears, and polar bears don't exist anywhere you're likely to be able to tow a trailer to.

If I see a bear, I consider myself lucky. I have not yet been lucky enough to see a cougar or wolverine. I'm certainly not worried about being attacked by any of them.
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Old 04-03-2014, 01:19 AM   #28
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Now, if you go to place where polar bears are common (such as Churchill, MB), and you are outside and away from buildings, someone in the party should be armed.
I was in Churchill once for business, just for a few hours. I wanted to wander down to the beach for a few minutes, just to dip my toes in Hudson Bay. To say I did it. It was a once in lifetime opportunity. The local RCMP told me not to do it unless I was carrying a shotgun.
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Old 04-03-2014, 07:54 AM   #29
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Some of you are rationalizing in your minds that most bears don't attack people. So what would someone from Texas know about bears? I haven't always lived here. The fact is that they are wild, unpredictable animals. The notion that an un-experience hiker can defend themselves with a firearm or some gadget from a charging 900lb brown bear coming out from a brushy trail is BS. A brown bear can sprint twice your speed and be on you in a matter of seconds. They may be with cub, close to a food stash, very hungry, or just in a bad mood. They can tear into your car or trailer with little effort. There are many dead and injured people who would now agree that bears can attack. They can also tear into your car or travel trailer. So educate yourself, be smart, and be most of all...be careful.
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Old 04-03-2014, 09:14 AM   #30
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Although mostly unwarranted, the fear of bears seems to be very common amongst many people, and is probably one reason many people choose not to visit some of the National Parks or partake in outdoor activities while there. If it helps to keep the crowds down while I am in the parks, I am all for helping to foster a fear of bears into those contemplating a visit (Just kidding).

Personally, I have never troubled myself much with worrying about bears, however, I will use "bear safe" practices when camping, hiking, or doing other outdoor activities where contact with bears is possible. Although I have carried out many of those outdoor activities over much of my life, my experiences with bears have been limited mostly to watching them run away when they see a human.

I have heard that bear spray and pepper spray are identical except for the packaging. Although it would be highly uncomfortable to be sprayed by bear spray, it is not likely to be fatal to a human.
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Old 04-03-2014, 09:26 AM   #31
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Living life is about choosing and dealing with risks. We each have our personal tolerance levels for risk. And we each choose in each circumstance whether to ignore risk, do something to mitigate it, or to avoid the circumstance altogether. If you use "bear safe" practices, you're doing it to mitigate risk. You can't (in general) eliminate a the risk unless you avoid it altogether.

Having said that, some risk mitigation techniques actually only mitigate the perception of risk. "Risk placebo" if you like. I get the feeling here that some are suggesting that bear spray falls into this category. I don't believe that's true, but even if it's only making your spouse more comfortable, maybe that's good enough.

But, if you're serious about mitigating risk, you need to understand your tools and be objective in choosing them. Carrying bear spray won't do you any good at all if you don't know how to use it.

My opinion: put a lot of effort into avoiding attractants around your camp site, shore, dock, trails, etc... make noise when you're hiking... dogs on leash at all times in bear country... and that's good enough for me in "normal" bear country.

I would consider bear spray or going armed in more serious bear country, but as I have no experience with bear spray and little experience with fire arms, there would be some training involved before that trip.
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Old 04-03-2014, 09:45 AM   #32
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Although I have carried out many of those outdoor activities over much of my life, my experiences with bears have been limited mostly to watching them run away when they see a human.
This is my experience too. I have seen way more rear ends of bears in the wild, than from the front.

Even around more populated trailer camping areas, where in the past there used to be more conflict, education has made a huge difference in bear problems. People are understanding how better to react with bears, and to not feed them.

One of my funniest (looking back only) interactions with a bear was when I was a teen in Air Cadets, and we were at a wilderness camp. We were playing Capture the Flag, and how we battled our opponents was whoever removed the others hat first captured them. Through a small clearing, I saw a couple opponents moving along, so I manoeuvred myself a ways ahead ready to ambush them. I waited a few minutes, and when I heard them moving close, I came flying out at them screaming like a Banshee, going for the element of surprise. Much to my surprise, I actually came flying out at, and stopped about 15' away from, a black bear. We both looked at each other with shock, turned tail and ran away scared from each other.
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Old 04-03-2014, 10:09 AM   #33
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Great story, Jim!

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But, if you're serious about mitigating risk, you need to understand your tools and be objective in choosing them. Carrying bear spray won't do you any good at all if you don't know how to use it.
I agree. I would go even further: if you carry bear spray (or a gun) without far more training and experience in using it than most of us would ever get, you will likely cause both greater exposure to risk of attack (due to complacency), and greater risk of harm through inept use or accidental discharge of the very tool carried for protection.

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My opinion: put a lot of effort into avoiding attractants around your camp site, shore, dock, trails, etc... make noise when you're hiking... dogs on leash at all times in bear country... and that's good enough for me in "normal" bear country
Excellent approach, and exactly that advised by park officials.

You're more likely to be injured in a collision with a moose on the highway than in an attack by a bear in a park. To me, it makes sense to take suitable precautions to avoid both, but to over-react to neither.
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Old 04-03-2014, 10:20 AM   #34
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BC Campground bear warning:
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Old 04-03-2014, 10:32 AM   #35
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You don't want to be a part of the headlines on the news.

If the place has an electric fence...it's for a reason. In the US there are places where soft sided tents etc are prohibited because of the bears. The difference between people vs bear spray is the distance/amount the contents are propelled.

With that...personally...I would get a can up there....and kindly give it to someone else before you cross back over.

I am a true believer that the one should never under estimate any wild animal.....because they are unpredictable. Better to be prepared...proactive instead of reactive.

Have a great time!
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Old 04-03-2014, 10:50 AM   #36
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I know of an Alaska State Park Ranger who advises newbies to the wilderness who want to carry a sidearm for bear protection to file down the front gun sight...on the premise that it won't hurt as much when the bear takes it away and shoves it.....
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Old 04-03-2014, 11:15 AM   #37
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I was in Yellowstone many years ago. A black bear broke into a vehicle, ripped the interior apart. The owner of the vehicle (a Yellowstone Park employee) was charged with improperly storing food. Not sure if it went to court or not, can't think of what else the individual could have done to keep his lunch secure....
Most bear incidents are related to startling the animal (why bear bells work), protecting their young, occasionally protecting a food cache (usually grizzlies), etc. Bears are omnivores and on rare occasions, black bears, have been known to stalk human prey.
Bears, like other animals, learn, and become habituated with more and more human contact. Not necessarily a good thing. Bear spray has been proven to be a useful tool.
While bears make the headlines, other animals can be just as dangerous. Elk or moose in rutting season are very dangerous, both males and females. In the spring time female elk or moose with a calf are much worse.
Bottom line, be cautious around any wildlife species, they are not pets.
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Old 04-03-2014, 11:35 AM   #38
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I have spent multiple summers working in the mountains both with parks and then in mineral exploration. I now spend countless days hiking with my family in the mountain parks. Over the years I have seen more bears, both black and grizzlies, than I can count. Almost all of these bears have turned and run, but two have run toward me! On both occasions I discharged a bear flare, which had the desired effect. On both occasions the bear re-appeared, and a second "banger" got rid of him for good. I should add that there is a big difference between a bear running at you, or even charging, and an attack. On one of these occasions the bear just wanted to see what I was. The second one was more of a real charge. Keep in mind that I had to spend hundreds of days hiking to have these experiences with bears. I certainly have a healthy respect for bears, and usually carry both the flares and spray. IMHO the Bells are too quiet, I prefer to sing and yell whenever coming around corners, entering thick growth, or when near noisy creeks. I would suggest that the chances of being attacked by a bear is about the same as being attacked by a shark when swimming in Hawaii, perhaps less. Both happen, but are statistically very rare. To avoid swimming or hiking because of sharks and bears would be irrational!
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Old 04-03-2014, 11:51 AM   #39
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I prefer to sing and yell whenever coming around corners, entering thick growth, or when near noisy creeks.
My singing would definitely drive a bear away.

But I hear you, we do the same. I have never used a bear bell before.
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Old 04-03-2014, 11:57 AM   #40
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While fly fishing on the Crowsnest in Alberta, I heard a fellow fisher call out to me. I turned and he said, "did you see the bear"? I hadn't. It was now about 100 feet downriver and the other fisher told me it had walked past me, coming as close as 20 feet. It was a full-grown cinnamon bear.

I'm just glad I didn't hook him up on the back cast.
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