Loaded for Bear

As you begin moving around outside in the nice springtime weather, remember that you are not the only creature stirring from winter's slumber.

The warmer temperatures inspire a lot of bear movement through both the backcountry and the not-so-back country. With bears wandering for food after a long winter, and overprotective mamas traveling with their new little cubs, it is never a bad idea to carry bear spray.

There are several important factors to keep in mind when shopping for bear spray.

• The can should state specifically that it is bear spray. Regular pepper sprays might not do the trick.
• The product should be EPA registered (this guarantees quality).
• It should spray for at least 6 seconds and contain at least 1% capsaicin (2% is better).
• The spray should shoot at least 25 feet.
• The canister should be simple, easy to use and quickly deployable.
• The spray should produce an orange cloud of mist.

This last point is believed to be the biggest deterrent, according to Chuck Bartlebaugh, nationally renowned bear researcher with the Center for Wildlife Information. Bartlebaugh suggests that bears are not accustomed to an orange cloud accompanied by a loud hiss occurring in nature. They will instinctively run off, and then look back, trying to figure out what just happened. It is during this time that you must also move away, quickly but without running.

Bear spray works--this is a documented fact. But you need to have it on you, and in a place where you can reach it quickly, if it is going to work for you.

For more information on bear spray and wildlife behavior, check out bebearaware.org