Alaska: Spray proves its worth in bear encounters

From: Anchorage Daily News

One blast from a can of Counter-Assault bear spray was all it took to make believers out of Carl Ramm and wife Susan Alexander five years ago.

One minute a grizzly bear sow was charging through the thick willows along Peters Creek in Chugach State Park, seemingly intent on flattening the two Anchorage hikers, or worse. And then, just as quickly, the encounter was over.

Ramm pulled the trigger on a canister of Counter-Assault, watched an orange-mist of pepper spray cover the brush and envelop the bear, saw the bear’s eyes go wide and last heard her breaking brush as she beat a retreat.

Ninety-eight percent of the time, this is how things go with bear spray, biologist Tom Smith has concluded. In a paper published in “The Journal of Wildlife Management,” Smith — along with co-authors Stephen Herrero, Terry Debruyn and James Wilder — indicates bear spray might be better than a firearm for protecting yourself against the rare attack.

Bear spray is cheaper. It doesn’t require much shooting skill. And in none of the 83 cases the scientists examined was a bear-spray user seriously injured.

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Alaska: Brown Bear Mauls Doctor Shooting Sunrise Photos

From: Anchorage Daily News

JUNEAU — A “crack” in the brush. A split second to turn and see the bear. Another second to click the gun’s safety off. That’s all the time Dr. John Raster had before the brown bear attacked him.

“I screamed and fired a shot into the air,” he said. “It was already on me and the gun was still pretty much slung around my shoulder. He bit me and started scratching me and pushed me down into the water.”

The Juneau doctor had been walking alone Friday morning along a stretch of beach on Admiralty Island, just a few hundreds yards from a cabin where he stayed with a hunting party. He was carrying a Lumix digital camera to take pictures of the sunrise when he heard the bear take a step in the woods, about 20 yards to his left.

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