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Hiking in the Pacific Northwest brings awesome experiences with close-up encounters with nature. Whether you are biking, day hiking, jogging, or camping, you should always be aware that wild animals live in our forests - and that includes bears. Bear encounters are becoming common and not just in the wilderness areas or national parks. Even in populated counties such as Kitsap, King, Pierce, and Snohomish , bears are very numerous.
Bear Spray - a good way to stay safe
Based on extensive studies, bear sprays are more effective than a gun. Based on research done by Canadian bear biologist Dr. Stephen Herrero, a person’s chance of incurring serious injury from a charging grizzly doubles when bullets are fired versus when bear spray is used.
Bear sprays will NOT kill the bear and will NOT cause permanent injury.
BEAR SPRAYS ARE NOT THE SAME AS COMMON SELF-DEFENSE PEPPER SPRAYS. Personal defense pepper sprays DO NOT WORK with bears.
According to EPA requirements, bear sprays should meet the following minimum standards: concentration of Capsaicin and related capsaicinoids range between 1 and 2.0%, spray a minimum of 25 feet, spray a minimum of six seconds, and contain a minimum of 225 grams (7.9 oz) of capsaicin AND related capsaicinoids. True bear sprays should also be EPA registered - usually found at the bottom of the front label. Bear sprays also come with a carrying case to fasten to your belt or pack strap. Bear spray kept in the backpack cannot be accessed quickly enough and will not be of use in a bear encounter.
The common brands that are EPA registered are: Counter Assault Bear Deterrent, UDAP Bear Deterrent, and Guard Alaska Bear Defense Spray.
Bear spray is not a substitute for following proper bear avoidance safety techniques. Detecting signs of a bear and avoiding interaction or understanding defensive bear behaviors are the best ways of escaping injury. Bear spray should be used as a deterrent only in an aggressive or attacking confrontation with a bear.
Make bear spray a necessity on your next outdoor excursion. Enjoy nature up-close and stay safe.