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Is Ammonia a Bear Repellent?

A friend who used to read electric meters told me that all the readers carried a squirt gun loaded with ammonia to repel dogs. Would it work for bears too?

Question:

A friend who used to read electric meters told me that all the readers carried a squirt gun loaded with ammonia to repel dogs. Would it work for bears too?

Submitted by - Frank, Bainbridge Island, WA

Answer:

Ammonia has long been recognized as having an odor bears do not like. It has been used successfully (via soaked rags) to deter curious bears from investigating garbage and gardens. Guns that shoot ammonia pose a different question. If the bear was not too far away, and not too interested in charging, it might be repelled. On the other hand, ammonia can destroy the nasal passages, and a face full of ammonia could possible destroy a bear’s only means of making a living: sniffing out food. It could also irritate a mildly interested bear, turning the bruin against you. The final answer to your question is this: No one knows for sure how a bear would react to a squirt of ammonia, but any bear expert would tell you not to do it.

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