Here are some guidelines for using bear spray:
When to use it: Bear spray should be used as a deterrent only in an aggressive or attacking confrontation with a bear.
Selecting a bear spray: Purchase products that are clearly labeled “for deterring attacks by bears,” and that are registered with the Environmental Protection Agency.
How to use it: Use the EPA-registered bear spray in accordance with its label instructions. Each person in a party should carry a can of bear spray and consider carrying two cans. If a bear is moving toward you from a distance of 30-60 feet direct the spray downward toward the front of the bear so that the bear spray billows up and creates a wide cloud that acts as a barrier between you and the bear. If the bear is within 30 feet spray at the front of the bear until it breaks off its charge. Spray additional bursts if the bear continues toward you. Sometimes just the noise of the spray and the appearance of the spray cloud is enough to deter a bear from continuing its charge. Spray additional bursts if the bear makes additional charges. A full canister of bear spray is essential for bear encounters. Consider carrying two. The expiration date on the spray should be checked annually.
No deterrent is 100 percent effective, but compared to all others, including firearms, bear spray has demonstrated success in a variety of situations in fending off threatening and attacking bears and preventing injury to the person and animal involved.
For more information on bears, visit fwp.mt.gov and then click “Be Bear Aware.”
Bear-resistant products are described on the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee’s website at www.igbconline.org.
A “How to Hunt Safely in Grizzly Country” brochure is also available at FWP regional offices.