If you're hiking or camping in bear country you'll need some form of defense against bear attacks. Whether you're in the habitat of the North American black bear, the brown "grizzly" bear, or the polar bear of Canada and other arctic regions, knowing how to use bear spray is vital if you are to deter an attack.
Over at the Rocky Mountain Journal
they describe why and how to use bear spray, as well as listing some helpful tips for surviving a bear attack.
While hiking in a wilderness area that has bears, your best line of defense in the unlikely event of an attack is bear spray. Perhaps counter-intuitively, bear spray is actually more effective than a gun. According to one study, bear spray is 95% effective in stopping a bear attack, while firearms are only 55% effective. Bear spray is also effective against black bears, and is something you may want to consider while hiking in black bear country.
Check out the video below for how to use bear spray correctly:
They also refer to an article
from Backpacker magazine, in which Dave Parker, a certified bear spray safety trainer, provides some useful advice for deploying bear spray safely:
If an animal comes within 50 feet, use your spray. If the bear isn’t running, point the nozzle about 30 feet away, and fire a series of one-to-two-second bursts. If it’s charging, point the spray at the bear’s chest and hold the trigger until the can is fully discharged. Out of spray and the grizzly is still charging? Don’t run, lay on your stomach, cover your head, and play dead.
On the official Montana state website
the bear management specialist Jamie Jonkel, who works with the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, offers some additional advice:
If a bear charges from a distance, spray a two to three second burst in the direction of the bear. Experts recommend bear spray with a minimum spray distance of 25 feet.
Point the canister slightly down and spray with a slight side-to-side motion. This distributes an expanding cloud of spray that the bear must pass through before it gets close to you. Spray additional bursts if the bear continues toward you.
Sometimes just the noise of the spray and the appearance of the spray cloud is enough to deter a bear from continuing its charge. Spray additional bursts if the bear makes additional charges.
If you have a sudden close encounter with a bear, spray at the front of the bear. Continue spraying until the bear either breaks off its charge or is going to make contact.