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Does bear spray work with black bears and what brand?
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Keith Selbo
(herman666) - F - M

Locale: Northern Virginia
Re: Facts on 09/13/2009 10:04:10 MDT Print View

Interesting, but had the commenter read the entry carefully, it said nothing about wind not affecting the effectiveness or range of bear spray, it simply said that wind is often not a factor.

However, if one encounters a hostile bear in truly unfavorable wind conditions, he/she may then wish to use a more powerful but less bear friendly weapon.

Regarding firing from the holster: I have test fired every bear spray I've ever owned from the hip. So I can say from personal experience that it can easily and accurately be directed from that position and that the only way you can hit yourself in the face with it is if that is where you are aiming.

Perhaps the commenter could relate his personal experience that counters mine, or lacking that, peer reviewed scientific literature.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Bear Spray on 09/13/2009 13:14:16 MDT Print View

Donna please don't get whigged out I don't think anyone here considers animals an iminant threat to you if you're backpacking. Its just one of several things that can go wrong and there are various ways to minimize the risk if you're worried. There seems to be some agreement that BC is more of a problem area than say Tennessee, I wonder why. I remember for a while it seemed like a lot of black bear attacks came out of the upper midwest but that seems to have stopped. Probably because they shut down the dumps.
I have seen a couple of detailed lists of all known bear attacks that included things like whether it was fatal, and the date and location. I would like to see someone really go through those and see what the implications are. I'm going to enjoy my camping one way or the other but I think knewing a few more facts might make the discussion more intelligent.
If we know more we can be smart but also rest easy knowing that we've minimized whatever small risk is there. When my food is sealed up in a oderproof bag way up in a tree and I'm not camped on a bear trail I know that I'm proabley safer than back home in bed. I already know the risk is small but I've virtually eliminated it by taking the appropriate precautions.

Donna C
(leadfoot) - M

Locale: Middle Virginia
Re: Bear Spray on 09/13/2009 16:46:17 MDT Print View

You're right. I usually am pretty comfortable out in the forest, even solo. The black bears here make so much noise in the brush, that I can identify if it's bear, deer, or 'other'. Generally, I've learned to just ignore the bears, but know where they are. Some folks here never see one when they hike, but I do. Maybe because I choose trails less traveled. When I saw the older cub up in the tree I wasn't afraid, just cautious. I will keep evaluating each encounter as to what action..or no take.

As for hiking out west or in Canada, I won't go alone. Grizzlies scare the heck outta me. I would rather be with people who are familiar with the territory. I know...I'd love to hike Yellowstone some day. I like the raw and wild.

Ryan Harvey
(kulboy) - F

Locale: Meridian, ID
Bears on 09/13/2009 18:51:09 MDT Print View

From my personal experience in Idaho hunting versus trail hiking is night and day. I rarely see any animals hiking the more heavily travelled trails yet when hunting off trails anything has been possible.

peter pattenbury

Locale: Australia
Advice on the JMT on 09/13/2009 19:10:09 MDT Print View

As a 'foreigner' I find the bear discussion rather exotic in that we don't have bears where I come from {New Zealand and Australia }
I am planning to walk the JMT next year so what to do about this bear thing?
A bear canister of course, and sensible precautions. Anything else? I guess the park authorities put out warnings if and when a problem bear is reported?

Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
Advice on the JMT on 09/13/2009 19:58:24 MDT Print View

Bear spray is not needed on the JMT except as a personal comfort item. If it makes you feel more secure, carry the extra 16 oz.

You already know about and plan to use a bear canister. That will solve most of your problems, assuming you keep it locked unless you're sctively working in and out of it.

The next best thing you can do is to avoid camping in areas of historically high bear activity; Lower Vidette Meadow, Bubbs Creek, the Rae Lakes, LeConte Canyon, Thousand Island Lake, and Lyell Canyon. Plan your route so as to minimize the need to camp in these areas.

When you must camp in one of these areas, try to avoid the established campsites if possible, especially those with bear boxes. These are on every bear's nightly travel route. Fix dinner along the trail, then continue hiking for another couple of miles and set up a stealth camp where no one has been before. This does NOT mean alongside the trail; get 50 meters or more off to the side and out of site. Bears often walk the trail at night for the same reason you do - it's easier than bushwacking.

The only really troublesome (camper-acclimated) bears are found between Reds Meadow and Happy Isle. The one exception to my no campsite with bear boxes rule is the backpackers' campground at Tuolumne Meadows. It is almost impossible to avoid staying there, since you'll want the store, post office, and/or grill. Each tent site has its own bear box.

peter pattenbury

Locale: Australia
Advice on the JMT on 09/13/2009 21:02:08 MDT Print View

Thanks Bob for your advice. I get the picture. Your info is in my ever-growing file on the JMT. Cheers,

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
Does bear spray work with Black bears and what brand? on 09/13/2009 21:12:36 MDT Print View


Mr. Brown Bear at Thousand Island Lake. He Came right threw our camp at about 3:00 in the afternoon!!!


It seemed like he had "Ben there done that" many times. Bob makes a great point about stealth camping off the main trail...Parts of the JMT are a Bear HWY.

Edited by Creachen on 09/13/2009 21:19:28 MDT.

(drown) - F - MLife

Locale: Shenandoah
Bear activity levels off season on 09/13/2009 21:49:04 MDT Print View

Bob, Thanks for the useful info on campsite selection on the JMT. How and when does bear activity change with fall and winter moving in. I'll be on the JMT starting on the 23rd and (hopefully) finishing on the 5th. Wondering if running into bears will be as much of a concern at higher elevations.

Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
Bears on JMT on 09/13/2009 22:42:03 MDT Print View

I did my trips in August each year, so I would only be guessing about the expected levels of bear activity in late Sept/early Oct on the JMT. We saw no bears or bear sign at all on this year's northbound trip (Aug 1 - 20) from Cottonwood Pass to Reds Meadow. As such, we avoided the area of greatest activity (Reds Mdw to Happy Isle).

That said, I'd expect fewer bears, but a higher activity as they try to bulk up before hibernation. However, Yosemite NP is a whole different ecosystem. You could always call the Tuolumne Meadows Wilderness Center and ask the ranger.

Edited by wandering_bob on 09/13/2009 22:45:28 MDT.

Russell Swanson
(rswanson) - F

Locale: Midatlantic
Re: Bears on JMT on 09/14/2009 16:37:29 MDT Print View

Roger- good point about the book publisher. I hadn't considered that. But it does go to reinforce my point- sensationalizing threats posed by animals does sell.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Does bear spray work with black bears and what brand? on 09/14/2009 16:44:07 MDT Print View

> I've used pepper spray on dogs while biking and they go down fast. It's the owners
> that come chasing after me because precious Killer was set loose on me on purpose and
> didn't live up to his name.

That's why you should never empty the can on the dog - save some for the owner.


P. P.
(toesnorth) - F

Locale: PNW
Does bear spray work............................... on 09/14/2009 19:21:21 MDT Print View


George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: Does bear spray work............................... on 09/14/2009 19:49:32 MDT Print View

Just a thought: an old hiker once said that most bears prefer eating hikers seasoned with pepper spray.

Based on my personal experience with black bears in US East (so far I have not encountered bears when in US West including trips to Yosemite and Sequoia N.P) , you can not predict the outcome. Some flee immediately - you catch a glimpse of black streak and sound of cracking brush. One that my son and I saw just sat by fairly close and scratched its back. Some move away but keep turning and looking at you (a sow and three cubs).

My guess is that bears are like dogs and people. Most are good, but there a few mean ones out there. Fortunately the odds are in our favor when hiking. Most likely, you will not be a bear's meal.

Ali e
(barefootnavigator) - F

Locale: Outside
Its not a brown bear, its a black bear. on 09/16/2009 17:25:31 MDT Print View

Jay, thats not a brown bear its a black bear, thats brown. This is a brown bear. Cheers
Photo taken with canon g9 :)


Edit image

Edited by barefootnavigator on 09/16/2009 17:29:46 MDT.

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
Does bear spray work w/ black bears and brown bears? on 09/16/2009 17:48:08 MDT Print View

Sorry Ali-Your right a black bear who is brown. That is a cool picture of yours!!!! I once saw a black bear with a white stripe on his back in the Trinity Alps..


Ali e
(barefootnavigator) - F

Locale: Outside
"Does bear spray work with black bears and what brand?" on 09/16/2009 18:01:55 MDT Print View

Jay I just wanted to put up a picture so people here could see the difference. They are all big and scarry to me and best seen at a distance if at all. BTW I swear a brown bear came into my camp south east of Tahoe ca. I dont care what the rangers say I have seen them both up close and can tell the difference. Ali

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Black Bears vs. Grizzly (brown) on 09/16/2009 18:56:42 MDT Print View

Here's an excellent site to learn to tell apart a "black" bear (which can come in several colors, including cinnamon) and a grizzly (sometimes called "brown" although their colors can vary too). It was designed for Montana hunters.

While all animals are unpredictable, grizzlies appear to be more so. They're bigger, too!

Lori P
(lori999) - F

Locale: Central Valley
Bears in Yosemite on 09/16/2009 19:58:56 MDT Print View

There are some bears that are active year round, according to the rangers.

Yosemite has an unfortunate long history of "friendly" bears. They encouraged feeding them for a good long while. (footage starts at 2:00)

And no, there are no elk in Yosemite. The footage was probably borrowed from a different park... Tule elk are smaller than that.

Ike Mouser
(isaac.mouser) - F
bear power on 09/16/2009 20:27:25 MDT Print View

Wow, the power!

Edited by isaac.mouser on 09/16/2009 20:28:01 MDT.