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Does anyone carry bear spray?

Aug. 16, 2019, 10:17 a.m.
Posts: 742
Joined: Aug. 14, 2003

Spray IS effective, regardless of what any prof would say. I've seen it work a dozen times, including on charging animals, and most any field worker will tell you the same. The key is the method of deployment.....and in that are limitations about how effective it is for riders. Spray is best used when a person sees the encounter developing and has time to prepare. For a surprise attack is has limited use because well teeth and claws and stuff. In the case you have a chance to make a break after an initial attack, and then prepare your spray, well okay. But for most surprise encounters it won't help. For deployment you have to know your product and have practiced how to retrieve your spray and remove the safety clip. Then you need to gauge wind because even 5kmh can reduce range by half. Then you are best to position an obstacle between you and the animal so you can deploy the spray from about 8-10 feet away. This is hard to do when riding.  If you're in a group, well you have a better chance of course as one person can retrieve the spray while the other plays chew-toy.

Second, the canisters are somewhat delicate. Constant rattling can loosen the cap assembly from the canister, and result in accidental deployment. I've ultimately seen as many humans sprayed as bears....often by their own canister. Second, if you fall on it (as bikers sometimes fall), you also risk accidental deployment which can mess up your day. A cordura holster provides very limited protection. A hard container is great, but cumbersome and heavy, and takes time to open.

Your worst and most likely situations are generally surprise encounters. Thus, the points about making noise while riding bear country, are well taken.  Avoiding known problem areas is also a good tip. Riding in groups is also very helpful, as predators generally avoid any type of group-encounter with animals/prey that is facing them down.

An accessible knife that can be carried without risk of self-stabbing makes good sense. It also provides something you can use to create distance for a moment, and then access spray if you choose to carry. However, a truly determined or fully enraged fully healthy animals is unlikely to be stopped unless you have the skills of a samurai. Statistics indicate people have better outcomes with spray over guns.....with some fudge in those stats as most people with guns are hunting, and are placing themselves in danger zones, or attracting hungry bears with their meat. Still, the reason spray works well is that you have to be prepared to use it, and be thinking in advance about deployment (create distance, find obstacle, gauge wind). However, it is a mistake to place confidence in a device, instead of preparation.

I have a tonne of respect of Sylvia Doulson and Get Bear Smart from Whistler. Her pamphlet on identifying and understanding bear species and behavior is great and easy to digest. It is really important to be able to know what you are dealing with in terms of species (black vs Grizz), and in terms of the type of encounter (surprise, defensive, predatory etc). Reading the situation is critical to choosing the right response. Education is more important than any device we can carry.

Aug. 16, 2019, 10:28 a.m.
Posts: 742
Joined: Aug. 14, 2003

Quick link to Get Bear Smart for people wanting info:

Aug. 16, 2019, 2:07 p.m.
Posts: 907
Joined: Nov. 18, 2015

Thanks for that link cerealkilla_. Interesting stuff.

Aug. 16, 2019, 7:20 p.m.
Posts: 2124
Joined: April 25, 2003

In defense of my prof, he spent most of his time in very close quarters, where there would be little time for properly discharging spray. 

I strongly agree on your assessment in where and how it’s useful - and suggest that, same as with a gun used as protection, practice is key.

Aug. 18, 2019, 1:15 p.m.
Posts: 742
Joined: Aug. 14, 2003

Fair enough Tashi - you raise a point too that often people's knowledge of bears is based on specific contexts or conditions, and we have to be aware of the origins of the advice they provide.

Side note, funny story.

I was on my way down a steep mountain after a day of work in forestry, ambling along with my buddy Matt. He's a big lad, about 6-4 and a solid 240. He was just behind me as we were stepping down over logs, when I heard a hissing sound and Mattie yelling "oh sht oh sht, ruuuuunnnnn!" I looked back to seem him struggling to unbuckle his bag and assumed he had hit a wasp nest, and then realize he had dislodged the cap from his pepper spray canister on his waist strap. It sprayed right up his back, fortunately mostly missing his head.

Needless to say he had a sharply burning red patch forming on his back. It was dry out there, but we found a small creek (or rivulet), and I watched with great delight as Mattie tried to somehow cram all 240 of his burning backside into that tiny trickle of water. It was like watching a bear scratching its butt on a tree.  We both were laughing, but I had the best chuckle as he spent half an hour wallowing in that little thread of water to alleviate the burning and prevent serious irritation.

This was before the age of ubiquitous cell-phone cameras, so I had to simply take a mental image for my amusement. Probably best, as Matt could grind me to fine powder with one hand...even if he was really too gentle to contemplate it.

Aug. 19, 2019, 10:58 a.m.
Posts: 549
Joined: Sept. 2, 2010

Did the Death Race in Grand Cache a few weeks ago (on a relay team).

One participant fell on her bear spray and punctured it.  She got covered, as did a bunch of folks after her.  It was crazy wet so it soaked her cloths and she had to run for about an hour to an aid station. She said it was like being on fire.

They couldn't let her in the medical tent as she was off gassing nastiness - so she had to be stripped in the parking lot and lubed up with dish detergent.

I don't think I'll ride with bear spray anymore.

I have no idea why anyone would think it necessary in an event like the death race- about a thousand people are on the trail with you - if you are the "one" chosen to be ate by the barr ... it is just your time.

Oct. 2, 2019, 4:43 p.m.
Posts: 1781
Joined: Feb. 26, 2015

Oct. 2, 2019, 5:53 p.m.
Posts: 1922
Joined: Nov. 23, 2002

Posted by: Brocklanders

well that's one way to get a KOM on seymour

Oct. 2, 2019, 8:28 p.m.
Posts: 2124
Joined: April 25, 2003

Bear was just like “Out for a rip are ya bud?” and they get all yelly and try to drop him. 

How rude.

Oct. 2, 2019, 9:45 p.m.
Posts: 907
Joined: Nov. 18, 2015

That bear was just looking to hit trail and get his shred on. So much for Trails For All.

Oct. 3, 2019, 1:10 p.m.
Posts: 1686
Joined: July 11, 2014

Trailforks showing the west side of Seymour closed as a result of the bear.

Oct. 6, 2019, 8:13 a.m.
Posts: 13026
Joined: Nov. 24, 2002

Posted by: grambo

Trailforks showing the west side of Seymour closed as a result of the bear.

Why is that? I mean you guys live at the edge of a pretty huge forest with ample wildlife.

Oct. 6, 2019, 10:50 a.m.
Posts: 18133
Joined: Oct. 28, 2003

Because we respect other users of the forest Mic. 

Given the repeated sightings of a black bear on the western flank of Mount Seymour, and his interest in mountain bikers, we're asking people to choose a different spot to ride for a bit here. This bear is accustomed to people, and needs some space during this pre-winter period if he's going to survive his biggest threat; humans. He has most recently been sighted in the area between the top of Hyannis Drive, and the top of TNT; please see Trailforks for the area we're asking that riders avoid. We'll keep people updated via social media and Trailforks as the situation evolves. Please message us, and North Shore Black Bear Society with any sightings. For more info on how to behave and safely coexist with these awesome creatures, please have a look at: or ask one of our trail builders, we just did a training session with the society!

Oct. 22, 2019, 11:47 a.m.
Posts: 1781
Joined: Feb. 26, 2015

Baden was closed at top of GSM on Sat with a nice big bear in area closed sign.

People were riding up to the powerlines anyways. Kinda lame

Although would have been better to have something posted at the bottom. Dunno if anything was posted at the bottom of Penny Lane or not, came up Old buck.

Oct. 22, 2019, 1:56 p.m.
Posts: 80
Joined: May 11, 2017

How far do bears roam? I presume further than say the distance from GSM, which is closed to Boogie which is not...

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