Expert halts grizzly bear charge with bear spray; video could help save lives

Expert halts grizzly bear charge with bear spray; video could help save lives

Outdoors

Expert halts grizzly bear charge with bear spray; video could help save lives

Families are planning wilderness trips as bears are emerging from hibernation, and hikers are urged not only to carry bear spray but to learn beforehand how to use the devices.

To this end, Yellowstone National Park on Monday shared dramatic video footage showing wilderness expert Casey Anderson calmly deterring the charge of an angry grizzly bear sow during a 2016 encounter near the park.

The original video – posted atop this story – features Anderson describing the encounter and how he handled the bear’s charge. The version shared to Facebook by Yellowstone contains the same footage, but with video text offering tips to those who might encounter an irate grizzly bear.

The bear that charged Anderson emerged from a ditch as he and his film crew hiked in a meadow. She sprinted erratically on the hikers’  perimeter, with her cub trying but failing to keep up.

Casey Anderson prepares to halt a charging grizzly with bear spray

Anderson, by this time, had his canister out, safety off, and calmly followed the sow’s progress. When momma bear saw that her cub had wandered too close to Anderson, she charged.

“She goes into full momma grizzly mode,” Anderson describes in the YouTube video. “She’s gonna protect that little cub… and she goes full 35-40 miles per hour straight at us.”

One long spray, aimed at the head of momma bear, stopped the bear in her tracks. She turned and ran off, her cub at her heels. The entire encounter lasted about 15 seconds.

The Yellowstone version cautions hikers to keep bear spray readily accessible, not in a backpack. Hikers should stay in groups and make noise on the trail. If a grizzly bear is encountered, do not run because that could provoke a chase response – and nobody can outrun a grizzly bear.

It might be harder for some than others, but the best advice is to “stay still and stand your ground,” and to make sure, when deploying bear spray, that the animal must pass through the plume to reach you.

The National Park Service has created a bear safety link that could help hikers and campers stay safe during their adventures anywhere in bear country.

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