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Tips for Using Bear Spray

By Chuck Bartlebaugh, Explore Big Sky Contributor

When used correctly, bear spray has been found to work 98 percent of the time, even against aggressive, charging or attacking bears. It has saved many people, including visitors to Yellowstone National Park.

The 2 percent of encounters when it didn’t work were related to wind or more than one bear charging.

Kerry Gunther, who is in charge of bear management for Yellowstone National Park, advises visitors to carry bear spray and travel in groups of three or more—advice that can be applied for all recreationists traveling in bear country.

“Hike during daylight hours and be aware of your surroundings,” he said. “Watch for bear scat, bear digging sites, rocks and logs turned over, claw marks on trees and paw prints along creeks and rivers.”

As a certified bear spray instructor, when I conduct my training, I emphasize these few critical steps to use bear spray quickly and properly…

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