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The DAILY DIRT - The nitty and the gritty of outdoor news

Ask A Bear: Can Wasp Spray Repel You?

Our resident bruin expert answers all your questions in our weekly feature, 'Ask A Bear.'

Q: Would wasp spray, with increased range and a narrow stream for accuracy, be a good bear deterrent as opposed to the regular pepper spray?—Steve Ridings, via email

A: Jeez, sometimes I think people just loooove coming up with new ways to make me have a bad day.

Luckily (for me) this probably isn't the best way to do it. Some wasp sprays have better accuracy and range than bear sprays, but nailing me in a sensitive area—eyes, mouth, etc.—would require excellent shooting, especially if I'm charging you at high speed. Bear sprays fire in a wide fog on purpose: so that you don't have to shoot like Wyatt Earp to make sure you get me.

Even if you manage to sharp-shoot me in the eyes, it's not clear that it would do very much. The few reports of humans who've been sprayed in the eyes confess to some irritation, but at much milder levels than even pepper spray (which is weaker than bear spray). To cause extreme toxicity, a large amount of spray needs to enter the lungs, and that's a very difficult prospect. No extended toxicity studies have been done in bears or humans, but Cornell researchers experimenting with rats and rabbits found immediate symptoms to include numbness, nausea, and diarrhea—nothing that's likely to stop me. Prolonged exposure even brought about sparring and aggression in rats.

Long story short, stick with the spray that has "bear" on the bottle—save the one that says "wasps" for wasps.

—BEAR

Got a question for the bear? Send it to askabear@backpacker.com.

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Jay
Nov 16, 2012

So that I understand; the fact that most people camp for years and are not bothered by bears means that nobody will ever be attacked by a bear. Therefore no one should take any measures to prepare for such an event. And if they ever are attacked then they must somehow have instigated it. The reasoning of the seasoned camper is novel.

Not worried but...
Jul 14, 2012

I've been camping in Colorado dozens of times with no bear encounters (it's rare to even see them.) This weekend I'm camping at Dowdy Lake and recently purchased an insanely bright keychain light which I'd try if a bear started eyeballing me.

Doug
Sep 21, 2010

...As if a bear about to attack is gonna wait for you to find ur flare, ignite it, get your can of wasp spray in the other hand and proceed to catch all the bushes and trees around you on fire... i.e. homemade flamethrower probably not a good idea.

A little common sense and you wouldn't have to worry about bears attacking you, so get rid of the steak you have hanging around your neck.

In the State of Washington as reported by the Gaming Department, only 1 person within the past 100 YEARS has died from a bear attack. No doubt that that person was probably annoying the bear in some way.
www.hikingbackpackstore.com for hiking tips.

BS
Sep 08, 2010

Combining the wasp spray with the road flare would probably produce enough "fire" power to thwart a bear.

DHarry
Sep 03, 2010

That's why it's called bear spray. After a few years of training in armed close combat/"quick draw" situations with y'all's tax money, I still take bear spray over firepower when dealing with charging animals (not that my oatmeal, nylon, and flannel are all that tasty).

Anonymous
Sep 03, 2010

That's why it's called bear spray. After a few years of training in armed close combat/"quick draw" situations with y'all's tax money, I still take bear spray over firepower when dealing with charging animals (not that my oatmeal, nylon, and flannel are all that tasty).

Sara
Sep 03, 2010

Fred you just said the following:

Earlier Poster - I agree.....You have to be a complete idiot to use wasp spray against anything other than a wasp.

Your Post - This is NOT True - Some wasp sprays have better accuracy and range than bear sprays.

However, the statement made by the earlier poster is TOTALLY CORRECT. Just because wasp spray has better accuracy, doesn't mean that what is IN THE CAN will do anything to STOP THE BEAR!!!!!! There are water guns that can spray many feet away. That doesn't mean that it will REPEL a bear!!!

Kendal
Sep 03, 2010

My 1911 .45 has better range and effectiveness than either wasp spray or bear spray. No use taking a butter knife to a gunfight.

mdavid
Sep 03, 2010

Any spray discharged with the wind in your direction will just make you sick. If a bear charges, is anyone going to take time to determine the wind direction to make sure the spray goes to the bear and not the hiker. I don't think so..

Mike
Sep 03, 2010

I've had a can of Frontiersman bear spray for three years. Whats the shelf life? I've seen many black bears while hiking but nothing threatening. Other than one running to cross the road broadsiding me on my motorcycle. Neither of us was injured though.

Mike
Sep 03, 2010

I've had a can of Frontiersman bear spray for three years. Whats the shelf life? I've seen many black bears while hiking but nothing threatening. Other than one running to cross the road broadsiding me on my motorcycle. Neither of us was injured though.

Ric U.
Sep 02, 2010

Even at 35 feet, a bear which is charging at 30+ MPH is going to cover the distance in LESS THAN ONE SECOND. That isn't even time enough to kiss your knees good-bye. You might have better luck handing Mr. Bear your Visa card and directing him to for a maul at Home Depot or Shopping. Standing there and trying a Quick Draw Magraw is DUMB.

Josh
Sep 02, 2010

I heard using road flares will scare them off.
Any thoughts?

Josh
Sep 02, 2010

I heard using road flares will scare them off.
Any thoughts?

Josh
Sep 02, 2010

I heard using road flares will scare them off.
Any thoughts?

Charles
Sep 02, 2010

It would be very illegal to douse bears or any other wildlife with an insecticide or toxic chemical! Anyone who would do such a thing deserves to be mauled and prosecuted.

northwoods girl
Sep 02, 2010

I take precautions when I'm in bear country (I live in bear country) but I'm much more wary of a lone wolf or a cougar. A bear normally avoids us. A lone wolf (not a pack, they avoid us) is unpredictable and may attack. Even without provocation or food smells a cougar may stalk and attack, especially a lone trekker or a child. So take intelligent precautions against bear encounters but don't let fear plan your hiking trips for you.

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