Does Bear Spray Work? A Self-Defence Guideline

Bear spray is a kind of spray that is designed to restrain the aggressive behavior of bears. Bear spray is non-lethal, and this decreases human injury. People do not have to kill a bear in case of self-defense. In this article, we will briefly discuss if does Bear spray works?

Does Bear Spray Work

Mechanism Of Bear Spray

Mechanism of bear spray

Bear spray is almost like a fire extinguisher. It has a trigger used to spray capsicum derivatives at a high flow rate which temporarily disables the bears breathing, smelling and vision. This disabling is caused due to the high and immediate inflammatory effect of Oleoresin Capsicum, which causes burning and swelling of the nose and mucous membrane and also caused dilatation of papilla.

This disabling will give enough time to a person to leave the area. A high flow rate or high rate of spraying helps in different ways. This high rate helps to work in windy weather. It reaches more distance. In rainy weather, this spray works perfectly fine. Numerous bears are killed every year just for self-defense, and this killing can be easily avoided by using bear spray.

How to Buy a Bear Spray

How to buy a bear spray

There are some factors one should bear in mind before buying a bear spray:

  1. Concentration of the content of the spray that is mainly Capsaicin should be minimum of 0.857% to a maximum of 2%
  2. Container size should not be larger like a fire extinguisher. It should contain 200-250 grams of spray in a bottle that one person can easily carry. One person should carry one single spray can.
  3. The working range should be a minimum of 16-18 feet, and the higher, the better. This should be a very important consideration before buying a bear spray because it ensures most of its safety.
  4. The spray blast should last for a minimum period to make the Bear temporarily disable its senses. This minimum duration is 8-10 seconds.
  5. One must check the Bear spray’s manufacturing date and its expiry date. Usually, a bear spray remains functional for four years after its production.
  6. One should see if it is a bear spray, not pepper spray. Always buy a bear spray of a well-known brand; one should not buy the non-branded cheaper ones. These might not work while in danger and can arise a life-threatening situation.

Where To Carry A Bear Spray

Where to carry a bear spray

We should always hope for the best but also prepare for the worst. To prepare for the worst, one should practice enough time to use a bear spray until it becomes a reflex action. This will help use the spray properly in times of danger, and one will not get confused about what to do. A bear spray should be carried in a very accessible place which can be the waist belt or in the side pocket of the backpack.

If a bear spray is carried inside a backpack, it will be of no use because it is obvious that the Bear will not give enough time to take it out from the backpack and use it. Practice should be carried out from where a person carries the bear spray. If he practices using the bear spray from his waist belt, he should always carry the bear spray on the waist belt, not in the side pocket, not in the backpack.

Ways To Avoid Bear Attacks

Ways to avoid bear attacks

There are several ways to avoid bear encounters. These are as follows:

  1. One should properly know and recognize nearby bear presence or activity; these can be a bear’s paw print, poop etc.
  2. Hiking should always be carried out with small groups. Hiking should not be alone as it is dangerous in the areas where bears might be present.
  3. Always try to alert the Bear about the group’s presence by making a loud noise by singing, clapping, making campfires.
  4. All food and scented items should be kept in bear canisters to keep them safe from bears.
  5. One should not feed a bear willingly.
  6. People should always keep a safe distance from bears cubs. The bears will be aggressive if someone goes near their cubs.
  7. One should always keep as much distance as possible from a bear.
  8. The bear spray should always be in an accessible place, not inside a backpack.

How To Use A Bear Spray

Some steps should be followed to make sure the effective use of the bear spray. These are mentioned below-

  1. Withdraw the can of bear spray and take the can’s safety clip.
  2. Direct the spray towards the Bear that is approaching. Wind direction should be considered because if it is flowing from the opposite direction, it may become harmful for the operator. This risk can be avoided by using a forceful long-range spray.
  3. First, a cloud can be made by using the trigger between the person and the Bear. It should go away after hearing the spray sound and seeing the cloud. If it does not go away, then the spray should be pointed towards to head of the Bear and spray.
  4. Spraying the bear spray should be continuous, not like how we use insect repellants.
  5. One should save some of the sprays’ can content for later; the can should not be emptied by a single continuous trigger pressing.
  6. These steps should pause the Bear to approach. Then the person should leave the area quickly, keeping the eyes on the temporarily disabled Bear.

Does Bear Spray Work?

Does Bear spray work

Yes. Bear spray does work in almost all cases. If the Bear is not hungry and approaching just for curiosity, the bear spray will work. There are some exceptions, like if the Bear is very hungry and if the Bear thinks its cubs are in danger, then there is a huge chance that the spray will not work. Some people wear bear bells to alert the bears that they are coming. After hearing the bells ringing, the mother bear can take its child to a safe place before the people cross them.

Is Bear Spray Better Than A Firearm?

Is bear spray better than a firearm

Bear spray is better than firearms in many ways. This are-

  1. One should be very skillful and expert in using firearms. The firearm should be used in a way that prevents the Bear from attacking. Bear spray is much better here because it does not require any special skills to use the spray. Few practices should be enough to use a bear spray to use it on the situation to prevent a bear attack.
  2. Not everyone can carry firearms. They need proper training and an arms license to carry firearms. Bear spray does not need any license to carry it.
  3. Bear spray has a greater success rate than firearms because bear spray works more efficiently at a close range. Firearm carriers are almost equally injured or killed in close range whether they use the firearm or not.


Does Bear spray work? The answer is “Yes.” Most people who hike are generally scared that Bear will attack them, but bears are not generally that aggressive. People should understand bear behavior and follow the preventive guidelines to prevent bear attacks. They should store their food in a bear canister and should not cook inside the tent. They should always carry a bear spray in an easily accessible place. Thus they can have an enjoyable and safe journey.

Frequently Asked Question:

Bear spray is painful and bears often recover from bear spray within a couple of hours. If the bear suffers substantial damage due to your bear mace attack, it may take longer for them to recover.

1.How Far Away Would The  Bear Have To Be Before The  Bear Spray Isn’t Effective?

Ans: Bear spray is most effective when used at a distance of about 7 meters (23 feet). But bear spray works best if you use it as early as possible. If the bear is within seven meters, you can get blinded and disoriented by bear pepper spray.

2.Do You Really Need Bear Spray?

Ans: The risk of bear attack can’t be eliminated. You can reduce that risk by using bear spray and avoiding known bear-occupied areas. However, if you’re going into bear country, you should also be prepared to use bear spray.

3.Can Bear Spray Be Used On Humans And  Dogs?

Ans: No. Bear spray is regulated as a pesticide by the EPA and has only been approved for use on bears. It should not be used on any other animals, including humans.

4.Is Bear Spray Lethal?

Ans: Bear spray is a non-lethal bear deterrent, designed to keep away an attacking bear without causing negative long-term effects on the bear. The active ingredients of bear spray are capsaicinoids, which are derived from chili peppers.

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