The Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) stresses the
importance of following proper bear avoidance safety techniques and
recommends bear spray as an effective tool for personal safety when
recreating in bear country.
Bear spray has the potential to reduce human injuries and the
number of bears that are killed as a result of conflicts with
humans. The active ingredient in bear spray is an extremely strong
irritant that turns the tables on an aggressive bear.
IGBC bear spray recommendations and other useful information can
be found on the IGBC Website by clicking here.
For an overview of bear safety, click here.
BEAR SPRAY TIPS
Here are some tips from the IGBC on selecting and buying a bear
Always ask specifically for “bear spray”.
All bear sprays must be registered with the Environmental
Protection Agency. Purchase products that clearly state “for
deterring attacks by bears.” The EPA registration number is
displayed on the front label.
The active ingredient is clearly shown on the label and is 1-2
percent capsaicin and related capsaicinoids. The active ingredient
is what affects the bears eyes, nose, mouth, throat and
Personal defense, law enforcement or military sprays, (often
referred to as “pepper spray”) may not be formulated, contain the
correct ingredients or have the proper delivery system, to divert a
charging or attacking bear.
The suggested spray duration is six seconds to compensate for
multiple bears, wind, bears that may zigzag, circle, or charge
repeatedly, and to ensure some spray remains in the can for the
The suggested spray distance is at least 25 feet to reach the bear
at a distance sufficient for the bear to react to effects of the
spray in time to divert its charge and retreat.
Each person working or recreating in bear habitat should carry a
can of bear spray in a quickly accessible fashion. Bear spray
should also be readily available in the sleeping, cooking and
toilet areas of a camp.
Check the expiration date on each can of bear spray before packing
How to use bear spray:
Take time to practice with bear spray in advance of recreating or
working outdoors. Inert cans of bear spray are available for
practice with a similar spray path and range but no active
When confronting an aggressive bear, remove the safety clip.
If the bear approaches within 25 feet, aim slightly down and in
front of the approaching bear. If necessary, adjust for cross
Spray again if the bear continues to approach.
Once the animal has retreated or is busy cleaning itself, leave the
area as quickly as possible-don’t run-or go to an immediate area of
safety, such as a car or building.