Study Finds Bear Spray Still Effective In Winter Conditions

Oct 20, 2020

Bear spray is one of the most effective ways to keep yourself safe in bear country.
Credit Chuck Bartlebaugh

A new study finds that bear spray is still effective in wind and cold.

The study, led by Brigham Young University, tested bear spray range for different conditions that might occur in harsh climates.

Senior Director of Conservation at Polar Bears International Geoff York was a coauthor of the study. He said it sprayed up to four meters in cold weather. Even with a strong headwind, it sprayed about two meters.

"The average distance that people deploy bear spray, in real life with a bear coming at them, was about two meters," said York. "It's very consistent with worst case scenarios for temperature and wind."

York said not to test fire bear spray because that uses up a lot of the can. He also said the expiration date on cans is important. As the cans age, they lose pressure, so they don't spray as far.

York said bear spray is proven to be more effective in handling conflicts with bears than a firearm and should be no less effective in harsh conditions.

"I think, big picture, our results really show no reason not to carry bear spray in all areas where bears occur," he said. "Even if it's cold, even if it's windy, it's another great tool to have in your toolbox."

Have a question about this story? Please contact the reporter, Ashley Piccone, at apiccone@uwyo.edu.