Spray Best Deters Angry Bears … but other Animals?

May 25, 2008 06:47 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Sprays were 90 percent effective in 72 bear attacks, outperforming rifles and leaving the bears unharmed. Gators, crocs and sharks are another story.

30-Second Summary

The spray’s key ingredient, capsaicin—the organic compound that makes peppers spicy—irritates a bear’s sensory organs, causing mild asphyxiation. Most bears do not make a close enough approach to the capsaicin vapor to suffer, however.

The sight and sound of the gas alone could be enough to scare off the bear, says Brigham Young University biologist Tom Smith, the chief author of the findings.

Sprays are preferable to shooting from a preservation aspect as well. If hunters used sprays as a bear deterrent the bears would stay alive, plus "they would know that this red-hot spray stuff will be really nasty and to avoid it … Bears are smart,” said Brian Peck of the Great Bear Foundation.

Protection from other animal attacks sometimes requires less planning. The International Wolf Center recommends that people approached by wolves should make noise and flail their arms to appear larger.

Running away is usually enough to escape from alligators and crocodiles, as they will only chase a human for about 30 feet. If attacked, a bump on the snout and playing dead is the best course of action for the victim.

Contrary to popular opinion, hitting a shark on its nose is not the best course of action during an attack, according to survival website Worst Case Scenarios. Instead, poking its eyes and gills is the best way to fend off a shark.

Headline Links: Sprays that repel bears

Background: How bear sprays work

Related Topics: Shark, gator, croc and wolf defense

Alligators and crocodiles

Reference: Animal safety while on vacation


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