Bear Mace (also known as pepper spray) is a non-lethal, easy-to-use defensive tool that is effective against aggressive wildlife. When triggered, the canister releases a dense cloud of pepper oil that temporarily reduces the animal’s ability to breathe, see and smell, buying you time to run away or deter its attack. It’s non-lethal, has no ozone-depleting chemicals and causes no permanent damage to the sprayed animal or person.

Bear Mace: A Comprehensive Guide to Staying Safe in the Great Outdoors

Unlike firearms, which have a very low success rate in stopping attacks, bear spray is 92 percent successful in preventing a bear from attacking you. A 2008 study from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found people escaped injury when using bear spray to defend themselves compared to just 50 percent of those who used guns.

The key is to use it only when the bear displays aggression or is close enough to charge. Bears attack if they feel threatened or are defending their cubs or food supply. If a bear is simply curious about you or your presence, you can usually scare it off by making loud noises and waving branches around.

It’s important to use the canister at a close range and aim low so that the bear runs into the spray. To ensure your accuracy, remove the safety clip from the canister before you use it — and don’t forget to carry spares in case of an accidental discharge. Also, be sure to choose a genuine bear spray product with an EPA number on the label that’s specifically formulated for defense against grizzly and black bears.

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