What Bear Spray Doesn't Do
Bear spray is a non-lethal pepper deterrent containing active ingredients derived from capsicum. Capsicum derivatives are an extreme irritant of the skin, eyes, nose, throat, and lungs of bears, humans, and other mammals. Bear spray stops the aggression in bears by causing burning and irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs. It temporarily reduces the bear's ability to breath, see clearly, and use its sense of smell. This stops the charge or aggressive behavior and gives you time to leave the area. Remember bear spray is designed as a deterrent to stop a charging or aggressive bear.
Bear Spray is not Used Like Insect Repellent
Bear spray is not to be applied to people like insect repellent. Bear pepper spray is intended to stop an aggressive, charging, or attacking bear. Bear spray comes out in a fine mist, getting into the bears eyes, nose, mouth, and lungs. Bear spray stops bear aggression by temporarily restricting sight, smell, and respiration. Once it is sprayed on a person or object it is no longer in a fine mist and is just a hot spicy solution. Think of bear spray like Tabasco Sauce, it tastes great on your eggs but you would not want somebody to throw it in your face.
Do Not Spray Tents or Equipment
Do not spray your tent or other equipment expecting that it will keep the bear from touching, sniffing, or investigating your tent or equipment. Bear spray does not work that way. Bear spray deters bears when the fine mist gets into the bears eyes, nose, mouth, throat, and lungs, restricting breathing, sight, and smell. Once sprayed onto equipment or the ground it is just a hot, spicy solution that may actually attract bears (bears are curious and investigate new odors). Do not practice spraying your bear spray in human use areas.
Bear spray is not used like insect repellent and is not a substitute for common sense. Use vigilance, your knowledge of bear behavior, and bear encounter prevention tactics as your first line of defense.
Did You Know?
Prior to the establishment of the National Park Service, the U.S. Army protected Yellowstone between 1886 and 1918. Fort Yellowstone was established at Mammoth Hot Springs for that purpose.