Paintballs: A New Bear Attractant?

Recently Big Sky Resort in Montana found out the hard way that bears are extremely attracted to paintballs. The resort set up a wooded, 2-acre wargame paintball site and after a few weeks, the bears moved in, according to Kevin Frey, a bear specialist from the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks service. Eight black bears moved in on the site and gobbled up paintballs at all hours of the day. Also, there were a few grizzly bears roaming the immediate area.

"The bears are eating the paint balls and licking up the goo. The smell is overwhelming … somewhere between petroleum product, paint and cooking grease. After a half hour on site, I was still not use to the smell. One female bear with 2 [cubs] just went over to the shade and took a nap, waiting for us to leave," Frey says.

But hunters shouldn't trade in their traditional bear bait for a paintball gun just yet. There's a possibility that paintballs could be harmful, or even lethal to bears.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials checked out the contents of paintballs and found that they contain polyethylene, dipropylene glycol (types of anti-freeze), glycerin, sorbital, pigment/dye, gelatin, mineral oil, water and ground up pigskin. Paintballs are known to be lethal to dogs and officials are now waiting to see if they could harm the bears too. Frey suspects that eating paintballs causes acidic ph in the bloodstream and pulls water from the brain, increasing sodium levels.

"[It] Makes one wonder about some of the mystery deaths in bears we have seen," Frey says.

Meanwhile, the paintball site has been shut down and is in the process of being washed out. Luckily, no paint-splattered kids were devoured by the hungry bears.