28 July 2007

Bear Spray

So before I went on my weekend hike I decided it was about time I checked the expiration date on my bear spray. But there was a problem. Due to the fact that, when I have to fly to a field site the bear spray gets duct taped to the wing strut of the small plane (in order to prevent the chaos that would occur should it accidentally go off in the plane), there is no longer a label on any three of my bottles of bear spray. The labels have been peeled off with the duct tape. Hmmm. Well, I think I’m going to retire them all as “practice bottles” and get new ones because I’m thinking they’re at least 3 years old.

Did you know that in Canada this spray is called Bear Spray and in the US it is called pepper spray and that it is illegal to take pepper spray to Canada or bear spray to the US and it’s the exact same thing? I find this odd and it’s a pain in the rear if you are doing fieldwork across borders. Oh, and that pocket on Carhardt pants that is meant for your carpenter tools? It makes a great bear spray pocket. (See pic to right.)

Some of you may be familiar with a little pepper spray which can be attached to your key chain or something to be used to defend yourself against humans. Mine is about 20 times the size of that little spray and I usually use it against animals. But if I had to use it against a human it would probably knock them out cold while I made my get away. Which is comforting since some of the place I go I'm more suspicious about any other humans I would run into then I am animals and let's face it, animals are more predicatable. If you know what you're looking for they won't lie to you about how they're feeling about your presence.

And for those of you who will read this and then ask me what they should do if they see a black or grizzly (brown) bear may I recommend the DVD Staying Safe in Bear Country: A Behavior-Based Approach to Reducing Risk? This DVD is put together by the International Association for Bear Research and Management, in other words: bear scientists, and is excellent. I myself watch it every spring and use it in my bear safety training classes that I teach for seasonal employees new to bear country. I mention it because of a conversation I had with a police officer in Colorado who had just learned the "Whoa Bear!" shout and was talking about it like it was a new discovery & I realized that this information is not as available to the bear encountering public as much as I would like it to be. I promptly went out and purchased a copy as a gift for all of my backpacking friends.


  1. So, if you like sort of perverse humor, you should go to my blog and use the search word "bear"... hee hee! Of course, bear being a naughty nickname for my mom... :)

    love this. makes me want some bear spray...and my mom is in CO...hmm.

  2. Yes, Wayfarer, you do recognize this voice. If you look at your visitor map, I'm the one all the way at the top left of the lower 48! I have been lurking your blog for several days now and have enjoyed it very much.

    Glad to know you are doing well. It was great to see you that day we had lunch with froghair such a long time ago.....

    Keep up the good blogs!

  3. Just found your blog as a link from one plus two. I love the photos and will be back. We're dual citizens as well and now on the other side of the world.

  4. about as far as i get into bears is when my kid can tell the difference between a polar and a grizzly. on animal planet.

  5. you know I second the praise for this DVD -- I have been circulating my copy amongst my outdoorsy friends as well. Thanks again!

  6. Okay I know I am going backwardson your posts but I just LOVE your blog! It brings back so many memories for me! That bit aboutt he stupidity of cross border travelling with pepper/bear spray, grrrrr...so frustrating!

  7. I swear I responded to these comments but mine seems to have dissapeared so I'll try again...

    liv ~ oh bear spray for your mom...sounds like a good practical joke (just makes sure you use an empty one!)

    ladyintheredwoods ~ hello! thank you! good to see you. thanks for de-lurking :)

    sally forth ~ thanks! I'll be over to visit you soon at your blog.

    jen ~ kids are good at that aren't they?

    dj kirby ~ go backwards all you want! I'm just tickled that anybody reads this stuff.
    froghair ~ your welcome! i'm glad it's getting use (especially after it sat for ~1yr). :)


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