bear spray: where to buy and what kind?

Old Sep 2nd, 2006, 05:05 PM
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bear spray: where to buy and what kind?

OK: I guess I've been in some kind of denial. Here we are on the eve of our Rockies trip-- and I've never bought spray or bells. Our children (in Boulder and San Jose) just got wind of this and are appalled: They said that they and their spouses would never hike without tear gas (e.g, around Big Sur). I'd read in my guidebooks abt bear spray, but for some reason didn't take it seriously, I suppose since we're not doing any remote trails. Still...
So the question is: Will I be able to readily find the stuff once I'm in Banff (don't like the idea of going shopping for anything when we're on vacation, but....) What, exactly, does one buy?? What's the best place to find the stuff? And are bells really wanted?? Thanks!
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Old Sep 2nd, 2006, 05:34 PM
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If you're going to be hiking well travelled trails -- and it sounds as if yuo will be doing that -- I don't think you need pepper spray.

I think other preventive measures are more important. For example, drop into the Visitor Information Centre in the nearest town (Banff, Lake Louise or Jasper) and find out from the wardens what bear sightings -- if any -- have taken place.

When you're out hiking, be on the lookout for bear scat, talk loudly, etc.

If it will increase your level of confidence to have bear spray with you, by all means buy some. There are any number of outdoor outfitting stores in Banff townsite.

I used to wear bear bells, but I've learned that they are useless.

If you do encounter a bear, don't scream and don't turn and run from it. I'm sure that's easier said than done. Instead, talk softly to the bear and very slowly back away from it.

I'm sure your guide books contain instructions about how to behave in bear coutry. "The Mountain Guide," the magazine-style publication that you'll receive when you pay your national park etry fee at Banff National Park's east gate also contains instructions.

I've read, but don't know how true it is, that pepper spray is more effective on grizzly bears than it is on black bears. But, regardless of the species of bear, pepper spray is an absolute last resort. The ideal situation is to avoid getting into a position in which you feel the need to use pepper spray, if possible.

Good luck.
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Old Sep 2nd, 2006, 09:17 PM
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Here's a link that talks about dealing with bears of the various types:

http://www.nps.gov/archive/bela/html/morebear.htm
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Old Sep 3rd, 2006, 04:31 AM
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You may not have any choice on the bear repellant spray as it may not be allowed going through customs into Canada. Please check with Cannadian customs before packing to see what is prohibited.
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Old Sep 3rd, 2006, 06:38 AM
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Thanks again! Seems somehow appropriate that just abt the last thing I'm doing before setting out for the airport is checking my Fodor's. I hope I'll be back on line in a couple of weeks-- with helpful reports of a happy trip. You've all been wonderful-- thanks very very much!
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Old Sep 3rd, 2006, 08:54 AM
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Judy_in_Calgary: I have a question for you. Are non-Canadians allowed to buy or possess bear spray in Canada? I just assumed not because each and every time I have crossed into Canada, one of the questions border personnel ask me is "Do you have any firearms, bear spray, or other weapons?"
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Old Sep 3rd, 2006, 01:14 PM
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>>>>>>Are non-Canadians allowed to buy or possess bear spray in Canada? I just assumed not because each and every time I have crossed into Canada, one of the questions border personnel ask me is "Do you have any firearms, bear spray, or other weapons?"<<<<<<

Your question and rm_mn's comment are relevant, dwooddon.

Pepper spray is legal in Canada only if it is used for protection against bears. It's a prohibited weapon for all other purposes. So, while it would be okay to hike in the mountains with a can of pepper spray, it would not be okay to walk around Banff townsite or downtown Calgary with a can of pepper spray.

The Canadian laws regarding pepper spray apply equally to Canadian residents and non-residents.

The prohibition against bringing pepper spray into Canada through a border crossing was something I thought of mentioning to poss late last night, well after I'd responded to her. But I thought I was too late to catch her before her departure.
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Old Sep 3rd, 2006, 01:29 PM
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I walk through Coleman with mine, although it is inside a hiking pack I carry with me, it is still there. Never been bothered by anyone. Generally when I hike, I hike from my home, through the forestry, into the town for a muffin and coffee and back home again.
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Old Sep 3rd, 2006, 03:30 PM
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Judy: thanks for the response. Does that mean I can bring it in but I have to declare it or that I cannot bring it in? On my recent bear photographing safari, I would have liked to have had it. It would give me a little more confidence to move slightly further from my car to get a good photo perspective. Since I plan to make a similar trip next year, the question is still pertinent for me.
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Old Sep 3rd, 2006, 04:46 PM
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I would not attempt to bring bear spray into the country, rather buy it here, at an outfitters, Mountain Equipment Coop or some other place such as that.

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Old Sep 4th, 2006, 01:15 PM
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Be sure to check for bear presence on the trail. Marks on trees, droppings, etc. Black Bear droppings have berries in it while Grizzly's have little bells and smell like pepper.
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Old Sep 6th, 2006, 05:56 AM
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good one Erick....LOL..
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