Bear Pepper Spray vs. Handgun – Which Is Better Protection In A Bear Encounter?

Recently in a “Science Daily” article, a study by Brigham Young University biologist Dr. Tom Smith was quoted. Dr. Smith is one of the foremost authorities on bears in the United States and has been studying them for over 20 years. His study analyzed close to 300 incidents of human conflicts with bears in Alaska and will appear in the “Journal of Wildlife Management” coming out soon.

The study is especially timely now that summer is approaching and people will be flocking into the back country where a bear encounter is much more likely. Additionally there was a new 2010 law that allows guns in national parks.

The study concluded that carrying a nonlethal deterrent such as bear spray is more effective than using a handgun. Dr. Smith was quoted as saying “it’s much easier to deploy, it’s less cumbersome and the success rate in these situations is higher than guns.”

This is the latest of many studies and articles comparing the benefits of a handgun vs. bear spray in a bear encounter. What this article didn’t even discuss is that if you are carrying a handgun in the back country and have a bear encounter, frequently people who shoot the bear only injure it and make it more dangerous. Seldom does a shot from a handgun provide enough power to kill the bear. Then there’s the nervous issue. Most people are so afraid when they encounter a bear that their aim is way off track.

If the spray is used properly when you see a bear, you are almost certain to repel any attack. Even the study showed that bear spray is effective in 92% of the cases.

As a bonus it is considerably less expensive than any handgun with bear spray costing only $35-$40.00 a canister.

I have always recommended that people who go into the back country to go hiking, fishing or camping carry Bear Spray with them mostly as a precaution. Bears are notoriously not aggressive. If you run away from a bear, he will chase you and the outcome will not be pleasant. The best thing to do in a bear encounter is to create a wall of bear spray mist between you and the bear so if he does continue to advance, he will walk right into the spray.

Bears have extremely sensitive noses. They can smell food from miles away. That is why it is so effective. The oleoresin capsicum in the bear spray is derived from hot peppers that are repugnant to bears as well as humans.

Don’t take a chance this summer when you’re in the back country hiking, fishing or camping, carry a bear spray and not a handgun.

Always carry Bear Spray when you go into the back country for hiking, fishing or camping.

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