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Does anyone carry bear spray?

Aug. 10, 2019, 8:05 a.m.
Posts: 186
Joined: Feb. 24, 2017

I was in Fernie for a few weeks and Canmore for a few days and it seemed that many riders carried bear spray with them strapped somewhere accessible. Both those places do have grizzlies at times but mostly black bears. Just curious about people’s thoughts on bear spray as I usually ride solo in Whistler and often in places that are off the beaten track.

Aug. 10, 2019, 10:15 a.m.
Posts: 1226
Joined: April 25, 2003

My animal behaviour prof worked very closely with bears for years - he was convinced that bear spray wouldn't stop a charging grizzly, but that it's real value was that it would give you enough confidence to not act nervous around them, which often causes them to get antsy.  He stoped carrying it years ago, and his students would carry it long enough to feel comfortable and then often not bother after a while.  The only bear incident he ever had was getting charged when he was with a student who couldn't relax around the bears.

I'd carry it, strapped to my bike, if I were riding in bear country.  I also holler "No Bear" or something similar regularly, when hiking or riding in bear country to avoid sneaking up on them, which is pretty easy to do on a bike or if they're all doped up on berries.

Aug. 10, 2019, 11:51 a.m.
Posts: 26
Joined: June 8, 2017

Posted by: tashi

My animal behaviour prof worked very closely with bears for years - he was convinced that bear spray wouldn't stop a charging grizzly, but that it's real value was that it would give you enough confidence to not act nervous around them, which often causes them to get antsy.  He stoped carrying it years ago, and his students would carry it long enough to feel comfortable and then often not bother after a while.  The only bear incident he ever had was getting charged when he was with a student who couldn't relax around the bears.

I'd carry it, strapped to my bike, if I were riding in bear country.  I also holler "No Bear" or something similar regularly, when hiking or riding in bear country to avoid sneaking up on them, which is pretty easy to do on a bike or if they're all doped up on berries.

good advice, thanks

Aug. 10, 2019, 12:19 p.m.
Posts: 34307
Joined: Nov. 19, 2002

I carry it.  It's good for more than just bears.

Aug. 11, 2019, 8:33 a.m.
Posts: 186
Joined: Feb. 24, 2017

Posted by: tashi

My animal behaviour prof worked very closely with bears for years - he was convinced that bear spray wouldn't stop a charging grizzly, but that it's real value was that it would give you enough confidence to not act nervous around them, which often causes them to get antsy.  He stoped carrying it years ago, and his students would carry it long enough to feel comfortable and then often not bother after a while.  The only bear incident he ever had was getting charged when he was with a student who couldn't relax around the bears.

I'd carry it, strapped to my bike, if I were riding in bear country.  I also holler "No Bear" or something similar regularly, when hiking or riding in bear country to avoid sneaking up on them, which is pretty easy to do on a bike or if they're all doped up on berries.

That makes sense. I’m not generally nervous when I come across black bears. I’ll make noise so they can detect me and give them space until they go away or I do. I did about three hours solo yesterday. On a steep climb on the Black Tusk road I came upon a small group. I had my bell dinging and I was whistling (badly) and was accused of being on an ebike because who whistles on a steep climb. Ha. But they heard me coming so any animals would too.

Aug. 11, 2019, 10:38 a.m.
Posts: 60
Joined: Feb. 24, 2017

The only time I have carried bear spray was in the Chilcotins. After getting up close and personal with a cougar on Frome recently, I may start carrying spray on all of my rides.

Aug. 11, 2019, 12:07 p.m.
Posts: 41
Joined: Aug. 11, 2015

From the two recent cases of guys escaping an attacking bear it looks like a small knife is more effective

Aug. 11, 2019, 2:39 p.m.
Posts: 186
Joined: Feb. 24, 2017

I usually have a sizeable knife too.

Aug. 12, 2019, 8:40 a.m.
Posts: 1145
Joined: Feb. 26, 2015

Posted by: skooks

The only time I have carried bear spray was in the Chilcotins. After getting up close and personal with a cougar on Frome recently, I may start carrying spray on all of my rides.

I was in the same boat, only carry in more remote areas.... Lately have come in to contact with a few bears this summer,locally and out of town.  Now when running/riding solo on the shore am carrying my small bear spray canister. Also have a knife in my hip belt, not Rambo style but enough to do some damage.

Aug. 12, 2019, 2:44 p.m.
Posts: 4693
Joined: July 9, 2004

On short local trails I don’t typically bring it, I’m in Vernon. 

On anything going a bit deeper or further I do attach it to my bottle cage for ease of access. Maybe it’s a placebo but I figure it can’t hurt.

Aug. 14, 2019, 12:08 p.m.
Posts: 691
Joined: Nov. 18, 2015

I always have a smallish 4-5inch blade pocket knife. I wonder if a whistle would be effective to scare off a cougar that doesnt immediately take off?

Aug. 15, 2019, 8:45 a.m.
Posts: 186
Joined: Feb. 24, 2017

Posted by: Ddean

I always have a smallish 4-5inch blade pocket knife. I wonder if a whistle would be effective to scare off a cougar that doesnt immediately take off?

Well. A whistle may get a taxi and you can stick her in there and pay the cabbie to drive her far away. I do actually whistle for my dogs a lot, when I have them with me. 

PSA. A grizzly has been seen in the Sproatt area on or around Into The Mystic.

Aug. 15, 2019, 10:29 a.m.
Posts: 544
Joined: Feb. 24, 2017

mostly i don't but sometimes i do. depends on where i'm riding. locally i don't, at least not the last couple years. i was on a very remote trail in Powell River recently by myself and felt that i should have. i do have a wide webbing belt set up with holster, it's not that bad to ride with. 

a fixed blade knife (a light and cheap one) would also be a wise idea in these areas. 

i have a Timber Bell which can be turned on or off with a lever. it is very effective and the brass bell sounds pleasant and carries far, according to other riders. 

years ago, a couple who write backpacking books on the Rockies had a 'tape' (this is a small rectangular device that used to be played in a radio by sliding the tape into the hole. it's complicated but just take my word for it, it's very old fashioned and long discontinued) called Bears Beware.  they used equipment to test vocalizations and worked with a vocal coach to see what sounds carried the furthest, cut through wind or rushing water noise and were easiest for people to make over the course of a day. 

the following sounds were most effective: 

woooooww!   aaayyyyy  ohhhhh.   hey oh, hey oh repeated quickly and loudly. wooow wooow wooow.   similar vowel sounds that are easy to yell out with emphasis. these sounds carried far and could be heard next to a rushing stream, but not always, especially around rock walls, etc.  my wife and i do this often in dense forest on remote trails. 

the problem with riding bikes is the speed. it's why i'd rather have the timber bell always on when riding remote places and calling out in addition. after a while though, you simply can't call enough and you get tired and drop your guard. 

if you do this in the Chilcotin, while riding the meadows, and going into and out of meadow and treed areas, especially around creeks, you are at great risk. i surprised a sow with 3, yes 3 grown cubs the size of Newfoundland dogs because i was tired and no longer calling ahead.  i pulled my bear spray, the only time for real, and slowly backed away (they were within 20 feet) and they all just ran away from me. i thought i was a dead man. 

if you are truly concerned, you're going to want a couple of layers of methods, sounds and protection, in my opinion.

Aug. 15, 2019, 12:24 p.m.
Posts: 26
Joined: June 8, 2017

I just rode the suicide creek area of Powell river by myself last month, no bear spray, just a 4" knife. I kept yelling "here boy", like i was with a dog but i wasn't and yelling "wooooo" a lot too.


 Last edited by: BigFoot on Aug. 15, 2019, 4:16 p.m., edited 1 time in total.
Aug. 15, 2019, 2:30 p.m.
Posts: 691
Joined: Nov. 18, 2015

THIS is the video that freaks me out. In most of the cougar vids I see, the cougar hightails it out of there and isnt a threat, but the bad ass cat in this vid is different; I think that this guy was about to get attacked. 

Im of the (very naive, as Ive never even seen a cougar) view that if in a situation such as this (one where the cougar appears planning its attack) you need to attack the cougar before it attacks you. I think that cougars are calculating animals and unless its defending a kill, if you change whose terms the encounter is on its more likely to run away....but I dont know. I admit to being a bit freaked out about it lately..... especially since skooks saw momma cat and kitten where he did...I ride deep in the woods on the shore, alone almost all the time and in places where I can go 10 rides without encountering anyone on foot or on bike.....Like I said, Im spooked after googling some videos on it!

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