|NATIONAL PARKS QUICKLINKS|
Backpacker Magazine – September 2000
It's basically pepper in an aerosol can, and it's supposed to stop a charging grizzly. But will it? Here's everything you need to know.
An interesting statement appeared on one of our backpacker.com message boards recently. It read: "Even while carrying pepper spray, I've always thought of it as just a bear's condiment."
The joke being (we hope) that hungry bears, like discerning humans, appreciate a little spice in life, and especially at mealtime. Then we saw the film that turned the bear-spray world on its collective ear and wondered if there's more truth than humor to the aforementioned comment. An Alaskan wildlife researcher sprayed a patch of ground with pepper spray--the stuff that's supposed to deter and offend big bears--then videotaped a grizz as it sniffed the peppery earth and proceeded to wallow playfully in the stuff like a big dog that just found a stinky paradise. The bear, by all accounts, liked the "deterrent."
Which got us thinking about bear spray, its (supposed) usefulness, the pros and cons, and generally, whether it's worth its weight on your belt. Here's what we found.