I'm not sure if this is the right section to post this in, but if not the moderators can move it.
Since bear season is upon us, I thought I'd post this recent abstract of an article in the Journal of Wildlife Management on the efficacy of bear spray.
Journal of Wildlife Management
Article: pp. 640–645 | Full Text | PDF (244K)
Efficacy of Bear Deterrent Spray in Alaska
Tom S. Smitha,1, Stephen Herrerob, Terry D. Debruync, and James M. Wilderd
a Wildlife Sciences Program, Faculty of Plant and Wildlife Sciences, Brigham Young University, 451 WIDB, Provo, UT 84602, USA
b Environmental Science Program, Faculty of Environmental Design, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB T2N 1N4, Canada
c United States National Park Service, Alaska Support Office, 240 W 5th Avenue, Anchorage, AK 99501, USA
d Minerals Management Service, 3801 Centerpoint Drive, Suite 500, Anchorage, AK 99503-5823, USA
We present a comprehensive look at a sample of bear spray incidents that occurred in Alaska, USA, from 1985 to 2006. We analyzed 83 bear spray incidents involving brown bears (Ursus arctos; 61 cases, 74%), black bears (Ursus americanus; 20 cases, 24%), and polar bears (Ursus maritimus; 2 cases, 2%). Of the 72 cases where persons sprayed bears to defend themselves, 50 (69%) involved brown bears, 20 (28%) black bears, and 2 (3%) polar bears. Red pepper spray stopped bears' undesirable behavior 92% of the time when used on brown bears, 90% for black bears, and 100% for polar bears. Of all persons carrying sprays, 98% were uninjured by bears in close-range encounters. All bear-inflicted injuries (n = 3) associated with defensive spraying involved brown bears and were relatively minor (i.e., no hospitalization required). In 7% (5 of 71) of bear spray incidents, wind was reported to have interfered with spray accuracy, although it reached the bear in all cases. In 14% (10 of 71) of bear spray incidents, users reported the spray having had negative side effects upon themselves, ranging from minor irritation (11%, 8 of 71) to near incapacitation (3%, 2 of 71). Bear spray represents an effective alternative to lethal force and should be considered as an option for personal safety for those recreating and working in bear country.