Smith and his co-authors write that using firearms in bear encounters is difficult even for experts due to the need for split-second deployment and deadly accuracy. People should carefully consider their ability to be accurate under duress before carrying a firearm for protection from bears, they write.
"People should consider carrying a non-lethal deterrent such as bear spray," said Smith, a gun owner himself. "It's much easier to deploy, it's less cumbersome and its success rate in these situations is higher than guns."
In a 2008 study, Smith found that bear spray effectively halted aggressive bear encounters in 92 percent of the cases.
Bear spray is a liquid pepper spray that comes in an 8-oz can and retails for $30-$40. The hissing sound and sight of the expanding cloud of the spray are often enough to frighten away bears. However, the intense burning of red pepper juice is debilitating and derails bears from continuing an attack.
"If you act appropriately and you carry bear spray, you are much better off than just blundering into bear country with a large firearm," Smith said.
|Contact: Todd Hollingshead|
Brigham Young University