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Rental Bear Spray Saves Boy

Constance Baltuck
NPS Photo

A can of rental bear spray saved a boy’s life, and the parents thanked the rental company for the spray…and the training. 

Rental Bear Spray company owner Sally Vering smiled, “Finally we have a bear attack with a happy ending.”

On a snowy August day in Yellowstone,  Vering is moved to tears, by an email sent to her by the father of a boy who was attacked and bitten by a grizzly bear.

She read the message,  “We are grateful for the bear spray and training which I am convinced saved at least one life on Thursday.”

Vering wouldn’t disclose the name of the parents who sent her the message. She said they were on their way back home to Washington, and have had enough trauma.

Park managers wouldn’t disclose the names either, but said a grizzly bear knocked down a ten-year-old boy, and apparently bit him on the back and buttocks while the family was hiking on a trail southeast of Old Faithful.

Vering weighed the can of spray that the parents used to drive the grizzly with a cub away. It weighed less than new. She said they brought the can back to the Bear Spray Rental kiosk in Canyon Village Saturday.

Bear Spray Rental Employee Sarah Hosey remembered, “They said they sprayed it and it worked immediately, and they were just thankful that they had it with them at the time.”

A visitor from Ohio, Shane Burkholder watched the training video and rented a can of spray for his family. 

He said, “The affordability of having bear spray and bear spray training right here on park premises is invaluable.”

People come to rent bear spray, because it is cheaper than buying it. Vering said she had that in mind when she started the business four years ago.

She remembered, “In the summer of 2011 two people had died hiking in Yellowstone without bear spray…I understood the importance, the absolute dangers of hiking without being prepared.”

Vering said she is glad she took the chance to start a new kind of business, where people can return the product empty.

She reasoned, “That family knew what to do. They saved their child’s life. They saved their own life. To be a part of that, is astonishing.”

There have been three deadly bear attacks in the park in the last decade. None of the victims used bear spray in defense.

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