Does anyone carry bear spray or other bear deterrents on them?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Does anyone carry bear spray or other bear deterrents on them?

    Whilst riding solo in Bent Creek I came across a bear on the trail on Lower Side Hill. I didn't see it as it was obscured by a bend in the trail. When I came upon it I was only around 20' away and I startled it. I hit the brakes and stopped. The bear as soon as it heard or saw me ran up into the woods and stopped 40' away and turned around to look at me. I slowly moved forward until I was passed it and then slowly built up speed and got the hell out lol.

    Fortunately it wasn't a mum with cubs, well at least I didn't see cubs. It got me thinking that perhaps I should be carrying some spray or something when riding solo. The encounter did spook me a little to the point I'm not so comfortable riding out in the Pisgah / BC area solo anymore as it could have been a lot worse if the bear got aggressive instead of running.

    So does anyone ride with sprays or other deterrents? Any suggestions?
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  2. #2
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    I saw 2 Cubs on that same stretch at about 930. It's easier just to wrassle em a little. Bear spray makes the meat taste funny when you cook em.

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    Last edited by rain164845; 06-01-2019 at 01:50 PM.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by rain164845 View Post
    I saw 2 Cubs on that same stretch at about 930. It's easier just to wrassle em a little. Bear spray makes the meat taste funny when you cook em.

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  4. #4
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    I'll bring spray when riding solo on less traveled routes/areas.

  5. #5
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    Meh, just make noise and they will run from you. Stand your ground if a female with cubs charges. Black Bears are deceptively fast and agile... If you can hit one in the snout with a $5 can of spray in the extremely rare event that you get charged then you are super human. Dogs on the other hand...spray is useful for them.

  6. #6
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    Bear spray? For a black bear? In NC?

    Fire some neurons, engage a couple of muscle groups and pedal your bike away. Problem solved.




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  7. #7
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    I do, but not everywhere and not all the time. The one place I do is Bent Creek, earlier in the season when mamas are a bit more protective of the cubs. And especially when I'm riding with kids. I'll also carry it if I'm bikepacking/backpacking and have more things like food that might be attractants.

    I have a holder that allows me to put a can of bear spray in a water bottle cage.

    For one, I want to know what can of bear spray costs $5. Cuz...

    https://www.rei.com/product/154930/c...-81-fl-oz-2019

    And also, the spray pattern is more of a fog. You don't have to aim at anything. Just point it in the general direction.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    I do, but not everywhere and not all the time. The one place I do is Bent Creek, earlier in the season when mamas are a bit more protective of the cubs. And especially when I'm riding with kids. I'll also carry it if I'm bikepacking/backpacking and have more things like food that might be attractants.

    I have a holder that allows me to put a can of bear spray in a water bottle cage.

    For one, I want to know what can of bear spray costs $5. Cuz...

    https://www.rei.com/product/154930/c...-81-fl-oz-2019

    And also, the spray pattern is more of a fog. You don't have to aim at anything. Just point it in the general direction.

    It was an exaggeration. I run into mothers with cubs all the time. Sometimes you just have to turn around and ride a different trail. Once the family are all on the same side of the trail they will run.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sugar_Brad View Post
    It was an exaggeration. I run into mothers with cubs all the time. Sometimes you just have to turn around and ride a different trail. Once the family are all on the same side of the trail they will run.
    Until they don't run. I am more likely to carry the spray if the resident bears have had more opportunity to become habituated and if there have been lots of reports of activity and protective behavior.

    I would rather have it and not need it than the other way around.

    But then again, I don't ride like most, or for the same reasons.

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  10. #10
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    The key with adventuring in Bear prone areas is to make your presence known. Bears don't want anything to do with us and will always avoid people unless its an extreme case of malnourished bears, habituation to human food, young bears looking for new territory, etc.

    That and I don't know how quickly you could pull, arm, and shoot bear spray if you absolutely had to.

    I was bluff charged by a bear on a gravel ride once. I was riding quietly in the late evening, around a blind corner and she had two cubs in the middle of the road. Luckily she stopped short about 25ft from me but there would have been no way I could have used bear spray in that short span of time. She ran 50ft toward me in about 2 seconds...

    When I see them now I yell and just throw rocks near them to scare them off. Hopefully that also teaches them humans = getting hit with rocks and they avoid the next one they see.

    I DO carry bear spray hiking but mostly for crazy folks and I used to carry a little thing of regular mase (key chain sized) for dogs on road rides.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Banjopickin View Post
    The key with adventuring in Bear prone areas is to make your presence known. Bears don't want anything to do with us and will always avoid people unless its an extreme case of malnourished bears, habituation to human food, young bears looking for new territory, etc.

    That and I don't know how quickly you could pull, arm, and shoot bear spray if you absolutely had to.

    I was bluff charged by a bear on a gravel ride once. I was riding quietly in the late evening, around a blind corner and she had two cubs in the middle of the road. Luckily she stopped short about 25ft from me but there would have been no way I could have used bear spray in that short span of time. She ran 50ft toward me in about 2 seconds...

    When I see them now I yell and just throw rocks near them to scare them off. Hopefully that also teaches them humans = getting hit with rocks and they avoid the next one they see.

    I DO carry bear spray hiking but mostly for crazy folks and I used to carry a little thing of regular mase (key chain sized) for dogs on road rides.
    Spray is great for meth heads and random dogs for sure. If a mother bear actually charged and you were lucky enough to hit it she would run through it like nothing happened.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sugar_Brad View Post
    Spray is great for meth heads and random dogs for sure. If a mother bear actually charged and you were lucky enough to hit it she would run through it like nothing happened.
    No doubt... the bear that charged me seemed VERY intent and I would only guess spray would have maybe slowed her down but not stopped her.

    There is a strong and growing bear population here in WNC and no shortage of folks coming here to recreate. Its a good idea to keep your head up and your wits about you when you're in the forest. Remember the forest is their home, we're just visiting...

    There is an interesting article on Adventure Journal about Bears v. Mtn Bikes...
    https://www.adventure-journal.com/20...reat-to-bears/
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  13. #13
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    I was screaming down a gravel road in PNF one time and looked up and there was a bear sitting right in the middle of the road. I hit the bakes and he ran straight into the woods. Good thing that stains wash out of your chammy.
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sugar_Brad View Post
    If a mother bear actually charged and you were lucky enough to hit it she would run through it like nothing happened.
    You sure about that?

    Does Pepper Spray Actually Work Against Bears? | Time

    the primary research referenced in the article:

    https://wildlife.onlinelibrary.wiley....2193/2006-452

    Yeah, I've had a number of encounters with black bears in the woods over the years on bike and on foot (from UT to MI to NC) and they've all run away from me. But there's a chance they won't. I've also had a couple mt lion encounters (also in UT). Having worked as a wildlife biologist, I know better than many how to deal with these encounters. No, I've not needed spray in the past, but that doesn't mean I won't need it in the future.

    I also have wilderness first aid training and carry a first aid kit with more supplies in it than the average rider. I also carry a little more in my repair kit than many. Sure, most of the time I don't need those things. But there have been a couple notable times I have. I view the bear spray similarly. I probably won't need it. But I might find it helpful sometime.

  15. #15
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    I ride Tanasi all the time, and encounter about 25-30 bear a year. I carry an air horn.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    You sure about that?

    Does Pepper Spray Actually Work Against Bears? | Time

    the primary research referenced in the article:

    https://wildlife.onlinelibrary.wiley....2193/2006-452

    Yeah, I've had a number of encounters with black bears in the woods over the years on bike and on foot (from UT to MI to NC) and they've all run away from me. But there's a chance they won't. I've also had a couple mt lion encounters (also in UT). Having worked as a wildlife biologist, I know better than many how to deal with these encounters. No, I've not needed spray in the past, but that doesn't mean I won't need it in the future.

    I also have wilderness first aid training and carry a first aid kit with more supplies in it than the average rider. I also carry a little more in my repair kit than many. Sure, most of the time I don't need those things. But there have been a couple notable times I have. I view the bear spray similarly. I probably won't need it. But I might find it helpful sometime.
    My wife worked with them for almost a decade so yes. Relax man carry a can if you want.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sugar_Brad View Post
    My wife worked with them for almost a decade so yes. Relax man carry a can if you want.
    I'm plenty relaxed. I am also interested in avoiding exaggeration (in your case, exaggerating the INeffectiveness of bear spray, which you have done repeatedly).

    A person's choice to carry bear spray is theirs alone, and that decision matrix will be different for everyone. But be honest about it.

    No, it won't be useful in every situation (mostly due to time to access limitations). It may not have the level of effectiveness you want every time you do use it. But research shows a pretty high level of effectiveness so the odds are good that it will help if you do use it.

    I choose to carry it when I deem the risk level high enough, or when I simply forget to leave it at home.

    Part of the reason I avoid being totally silent on the trail.

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  18. #18
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    Serious question - has anyone ever been attacked by a bear in Bent Creek or the greater Pisgah Forest area?

  19. #19
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    you don't have to be faster than the bear, just faster than your riding partner.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by jnroyal View Post
    Serious question - has anyone ever been attacked by a bear in Bent Creek or the greater Pisgah Forest area?
    Did a quick search:

    https://www.google.com/search?q=bear...w=1442&bih=665

    Attacks on people with injury - didn't really see anything. Digging in, I found a number of articles about bears getting into campers' food, some of which prompted temporary camping closures/prohibitions, food storage requirements in certain areas, and whatnot.

    Bluff charges are somewhat common. I know people who have been charged by bears in the area within the past couple years.

    Big thing I see is that land managers in the area are pretty diligent about posting info about heightened bear activity to get people thinking about prevention. They also fairly regularly promote "bear wise" behaviors (especially at home, but also in camp and on the trail), which help to prevent habituation and problems to begin with.

    Like I said, I don't always carry my spray. I think about the risks and I choose when to carry it and when not to.

  21. #21
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    I have run into multiple bear up by the cradle of forestry. South Mills and Pink Beds on many occasions. We had one mess with camp on 476 all night long. Wouldn't scare away.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    I'm plenty relaxed. I am also interested in avoiding exaggeration (in your case, exaggerating the INeffectiveness of bear spray, which you have done repeatedly).

    A person's choice to carry bear spray is theirs alone, and that decision matrix will be different for everyone. But be honest about it.

    No, it won't be useful in every situation (mostly due to time to access limitations). It may not have the level of effectiveness you want every time you do use it. But research shows a pretty high level of effectiveness so the odds are good that it will help if you do use it.

    I choose to carry it when I deem the risk level high enough, or when I simply forget to leave it at home.

    Part of the reason I avoid being totally silent on the trail.

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    Well I don't know what else to tell you man. Bear Spray in the real world is a joke. If you think you can get to your spray, pull it out of your belt or harness, aim it, break the safety, spray it, and somehow time it perfectly that a large 300 lb pissed off animal runs through the spray and stops in it's tracks at 40mph then more power to you... The best deterrent is noise.
    I was a ranger for 4 years and had many run ins with bears. Every encounter I have had spray either wouldn't have helped or there was no need for it. Just make some noise and they run away, every time. In the freak occurrence there is actually an attack you need to stand your ground and fight back. During this rare occurrence a bear would be on you before you could even process what happened. There have been 23 deaths due to Black Bears since 1900. Most violent attacks are related directly to food sources and habituation. The highest frequency of attacks happens in the Smoky Mountains where stupid tourists hand feed bears.
    As I mentioned my wife worked with Black Bears for 9 years. She worked with wild, habituated, and rehabilitated/rescued bears. She had a freak encounter while unlocking a service gate. All she did was reach for a lock on the other side of a fence and one of the habituated rescues charged the gate and bit the end of her finger off. It was winter and Black Bears don't truly hibernate. They often come out in sort of a stupor. They are notoriously moody that time of year. The bear was 20-30 feet from the fence and all of a sudden my wife was missing the end of her finger. There is no way she could have pulled her spray and defended herself. She carried the most powerful spray at the time and had years of experience but it doesn't do any good due to the time it takes to deploy it. Multiple surgeries and skin grafts saved what's left of her finger and from afar you can't really tell that the finger is deformed. Unfortunately she can't feel it so it affects motor function.
    If you gain peace of mind by carrying spray then more power to you. Spray is great for dogs and meth heads. The best deterrents against Black Bears are and will always be noise and making your presence known.

  23. #23
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    Nobody argues that you can deploy it 100% of the time, but using your experience with deployment as an argument to say that bear spray is a joke is disingenuous when the research shows that it IS effective if you spray it towards a bear. Different things.

    This is why you don't bury the spray in a pack. The harder it is to reach, the more warning you need. As you have described. But that doesn't mean that it's a joke.

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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    Nobody argues that you can deploy it 100% of the time, but using your experience with deployment as an argument to say that bear spray is a joke is disingenuous when the research shows that it IS effective if you spray it towards a bear. Different things.

    This is why you don't bury the spray in a pack. The harder it is to reach, the more warning you need. As you have described. But that doesn't mean that it's a joke.

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    It's a joke that spray is marketed as a first line of a defense. We always kept it on our belts so we could reach it. It's also a joke to think that while riding you would have time to reach for it without crashing and hit a 300lb animal moving at 40mph. Even of you managed to deploy it and hit the target there is a very high chance that at the point the bear is so raged out by its sympathetic nervous system that it will run right through it. So yes, in my professional opinion and experience bear spray is a joke. But if you want to carry it then cool, whatever it's not a bad idea to have it on you.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sugar_Brad View Post
    It's a joke that spray is marketed as a first line of a defense. We always kept it on our belts so we could reach it. It's also a joke to think that while riding you would have time to reach for it without crashing and hit a 300lb animal moving at 40mph. Even of you managed to deploy it and hit the target there is a very high chance that at the point the bear is so raged out by its sympathetic nervous system that it will run right through it. So yes, in my professional opinion and experience bear spray is a joke. But if you want to carry it then cool, whatever it's not a bad idea to have it on you.
    And actual research shows it DOES work when sprayed. So yeah.

    First line is, as you've said, behavioral on OUR part. I agree with that, no question.

    I'm no weight weenie and I carry 2nd and 3rd line defenses against lots of things. I carry no fewer than 4 different ways to repair flat tires, for example. Some are backups. Some are backups of backups. That's how I view bear spray. It's a contingency option, and like I said, I don't carry it all the time, everywhere. Rode Kitsuma with a group today and left the spray at home. In fact, it's late enough in the season that I might leave the spray at home unless I bikepack/backpack somewhere.

    I haven't encountered a bear recently, but from the people I know who have, the bears are seeming a good bit less irritable lately.

  26. #26
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    I've never had to spray any of the bears I've run into, but the people I know who have sprayed predatory bears say it is effective and you should always carry it, even if 99% of bear encounters will be fine.
    Not in the US (BC), but I don't carry spray while riding unless I'm alone and off the beaten path. First line of defense is always going to be making your presence known.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by cerebroside View Post
    I've never had to spray any of the bears I've run into, but the people I know who have sprayed predatory bears say it is effective and you should always carry it, even if 99% of bear encounters will be fine.
    Not in the US (BC), but I don't carry spray while riding unless I'm alone and off the beaten path. First line of defense is always going to be making your presence known.
    You are talking about Brown Bears I assume? Black Bears and "predatory" don't really go together is why I'm asking, not being a smart ass. I would carry it hiking for sure, especially in Grizzly country. My argument is that you guys are kidding yourselves if you think you could actually deploy it effectively while riding. We are in a MTB forum not a hiking forum and the research you guys are referencing doesn't really apply to a realistic scenario while riding. It would be extremely rare to need spray during a slow speed encounter. Just make some noise. I would crash if I tried to spray a bear as I came around a blind corner or a high speed decent etc.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    And actual research shows it DOES work when sprayed. So yeah.

    First line is, as you've said, behavioral on OUR part. I agree with that, no question.

    I'm no weight weenie and I carry 2nd and 3rd line defenses against lots of things. I carry no fewer than 4 different ways to repair flat tires, for example. Some are backups. Some are backups of backups. That's how I view bear spray. It's a contingency option, and like I said, I don't carry it all the time, everywhere. Rode Kitsuma with a group today and left the spray at home. In fact, it's late enough in the season that I might leave the spray at home unless I bikepack/backpack somewhere.

    I haven't encountered a bear recently, but from the people I know who have, the bears are seeming a good bit less irritable lately.
    They "actual research" you keep referencing doesn't specify if the encounters were during hiking, riding, running etc. Do you think you could deploy spray and hit a bear that is charging you while you are descending or cornering around a blind corner? I would crash and then the noise would probably scare it away lol.

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sugar_Brad View Post
    Black Bears and "predatory" don't really go together is why I'm asking,
    Those pesky facts

    https://www.adn.com/alaska-news/arti...ks/2011/05/11/



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    Last edited by Harold; 06-05-2019 at 07:40 AM.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sugar_Brad View Post
    They "actual research" you keep referencing doesn't specify if the encounters were during hiking, riding, running etc. Do you think you could deploy spray and hit a bear that is charging you while you are descending or cornering around a blind corner? I would crash and then the noise would probably scare it away lol.
    I think your bear encounter scenarios are a bit off base. Iíve encountered lots and lots of bears. Most of them have been slow speed encounters, ie, climbing. Iím not a bear expert, but my assumption is that downhill noise does indeed scare bears off. Climbing, at least the way I do it, is typically slow and quiet. Iíve had more than a few encounters where both me and the bear have stopped, and stared at each other, and in the unlikely event of a charge, I very much could have effectively used spray. Itís unlikely that the scenario you keep deferring to would ever happen. I donít carry bear spray here, but I also ride with dogs, so thereís that.


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    Bears have very good senses, they know you are coming long before you see them. The instances where they get startled, I would assume are due to speed, but they likely smelled you long before you saw them. I'd venture that's why they act relatively calm during most interactions, you aren't exactly a surprise, but if you are and they want to get you, they can move faster than you could possibly react. In other words, they aren't gonna start from a standstill staring at you, then decide to charge and attack you. It'll be on top of you before you know it's coming.

    Personally, I think the risk of being attacked by a bear here is far lower than the risk that I crash and puncture the can or something similar. Even not considering that, it is only useful if you can get to it and there is no way you are going to be able to come to a controlled stop on your bike and deploy the spray before it's at you and doing whatever it wants. It's one thing if you are hiking and have it strapped to your pack, where you can easily stop and grab it, but there is a lot more to consider with your bike and the time between realizing that you need it and actually being able to use it is more than is practical compared to being on foot, but there are also risks to having it on your person that are, IMO, more significant (although still low).

    I also don't think it's worth comparing the behavior of bears in other areas to what we have here, Brown bears and Grizzly bears are completely different animals with different behaviors.

    Carry what you want, I don't bother with it, in the one in a million chance that one decides to attack and I can't scare it off, the chance I have of actually being able to get to it and deploy it is really low. There are some risks you just have to accept being in the woods and carrying spray doesn't offer enough of a mitigation to that risk to justify the hassle/expense/risk.

  32. #32
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    Bear Spray, yelling, throwing rocks is well and good. But if a bear tries to steal your babies whattayagonnado?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D77FEz-O8FE
    On your left!

  33. #33
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    I was charged a few years ago while climbing the 2nd small hump on Ingles. She was protecting cubs, and it was a serious bluff. I was climbing and moving slowly, but she was on me within a few seconds (within 5-10 feet). There would not have been enough time to get out a can of bear spray, even if this was on my bike or belt, much less hit a fast moving target. I essentially had time to jump off my bike and stand behind it.

    I worry more about startling a bear on a descent, when I would have more trouble stopping. In that scenario, it would be almost impossible to access a can of bear spray.

    My impression is that bear spray might be more effective for camping and/or hiking, to deal with a slowly approaching bear (or one harassing/attacking a group member). This also might be more effective in areas with less dense foliage, where you can spot bears further away (longer line of sight).

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    Those pesky facts

    https://www.adn.com/alaska-news/arti...ks/2011/05/11/



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    Lol... There is virtually no evidence that Black Bears in NC show any kind of predatory behavior towards humans in recent memory. I am only talking about NC... The article you are referencing is based on populations of Canadian and Alaskan Black Bears and ONLY on fatal attacks...It even gives stats that prove that most of the fatalaties where in those populations... It doesn't specify how many attacks were in NC but 14 fatal attacks in lower 48 states over 100 years is a pretty low frequency and an unrealistic comparison to today's bear populations. Here is a "pesky fact" for you: During the last 20 years there have been 25 fatal Black Bear attacks in North America. There hasn't been a fatal bear attack in NC in the past 20 years...the closest fatal attacks were in the Smokies (2). Just as the article you referenced supports, an overwhelming number of fatal attacks were in Canada and Alaska. I can only find records starting in 2017 and moving backwards but I'm not seeing any fatal attacks in NC in recent memory...Just sayin'. But keep hitting me with your facts and do make sure to be condescending about it, they are quite entertaining.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Adodero View Post
    Bears have very good senses, they know you are coming long before you see them. The instances where they get startled, I would assume are due to speed, but they likely smelled you long before you saw them. I'd venture that's why they act relatively calm during most interactions, you aren't exactly a surprise, but if you are and they want to get you, they can move faster than you could possibly react. In other words, they aren't gonna start from a standstill staring at you, then decide to charge and attack you. It'll be on top of you before you know it's coming.

    Personally, I think the risk of being attacked by a bear here is far lower than the risk that I crash and puncture the can or something similar. Even not considering that, it is only useful if you can get to it and there is no way you are going to be able to come to a controlled stop on your bike and deploy the spray before it's at you and doing whatever it wants. It's one thing if you are hiking and have it strapped to your pack, where you can easily stop and grab it, but there is a lot more to consider with your bike and the time between realizing that you need it and actually being able to use it is more than is practical compared to being on foot, but there are also risks to having it on your person that are, IMO, more significant (although still low).

    I also don't think it's worth comparing the behavior of bears in other areas to what we have here, Brown bears and Grizzly bears are completely different animals with different behaviors.

    Carry what you want, I don't bother with it, in the one in a million chance that one decides to attack and I can't scare it off, the chance I have of actually being able to get to it and deploy it is really low. There are some risks you just have to accept being in the woods and carrying spray doesn't offer enough of a mitigation to that risk to justify the hassle/expense/risk.
    What I have been trying to articulate, thanks.

  36. #36
    mtbr member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Banjopickin View Post
    Bear Spray, yelling, throwing rocks is well and good. But if a bear tries to steal your babies whattayagonnado?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D77FEz-O8FE
    Punch it in the face! I ain't scared of nothin'!

  37. #37
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    I like how you keep walking back your arguments because I present information that demonstrates major exceptions to your generalities.

    The point is that black bears absolutely can exhibit predatory behavior, which is something you discounted completely.

    You act like bear spray personally violated you or something. It's just bear spray. If I am never able to draw it in time to use it when I'm riding, what's the problem? It's a few extra oz of gear. OMG, it's such a terrible thing!

    Are you going to give me shit for occasionally carrying fishing gear, even though I have never caught a fish when I stop to attempt it on a ride?

    What about packing a lunch when I plan to spend several hours relaxing in the woods, but only a couple of those actually riding?

    What about when I put water filtration equipment in my pack when it gets hot outside and my water consumption increases?



    Sent from my VS995 using Tapatalk

  38. #38
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    You guys are doing it all wrong. A rolled up newspaper is all you need to deal with a bear. If one gets too close, just swat it on the nose.

  39. #39
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    Here's a great video for you all - the speaker has been a bear researcher for decades. It's an entertaining video, and very informative with respect to bear behavior and bear safety.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PExlT-5VU-Y

    His take? Always carry a deterrent. And when you are carrying it, have it ready, which often means carrying it in the hand, ready for deployment. Little tough to do on a bike, but that's life. Regardless of the deterrent argument, it's still a great video which dispels a lot of the myths surrounding bear safety. Very good conclusions from large samples of bear attacks and outcomes, too.

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