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Bear Spray necessary?

Indiana
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171 posts
144 reviews
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Bear Spray necessary?

Three of us will be coming to Glacier in two weeks. While we plan to do some hiking, we will not be doing anything too advanced or any backcountry hiking. We are all amateurs, so we will stick to the main trails and probably won't go too far. Is it really necessary for us to buy bear spray, or should it be fairly safe? I realize that bears can be anywhere in the park, even in populated areas, but I didn't know if bear spray was recommended for everyone, or mainly just those doing longer, more remote hiking.

Charlotte, North...
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1. Re: Bear Spray necessary?

Bearspray is mostly a mental safeguard. Knowing that you have a fairly effective deterent in the case that you come across a defensive/offensive bear on the trail is often nice. Having said that, the likelihood that you will come across a bear within such close proximity is not incredibly likely, although it does happen occassionally. And as you said, the bears don't care if the trail is popular or not, they'll stick wherever they want!

We hiked to Bullhead Lake on the Swiftcurrent Pass Trail in '06 and on the way back to the parking area, there was a mother and two cubs near Swiftcurrent Falls. We didn't see the bears, but there were a few women just in front of us who came across the bears on the trail and were very frightened. The bears caused no problems that day, but the past few days they had caused the trail to be closed.

I will be returning to Glacier the end of July/beginning of August this year with my two brothers and parents. We are taking two cans of bearspray. Again, it is largely a mental thing, but we plan to do 70-100 miles of hiking...and not all on the most popular trails...during our 7 days in the park. If we do not have to use the bearspray during this trip, we will always have it for the next trip. I think it's a good idea, even though it's expensive. I say this because if you buy it and don't use it, you get to keep onto it until you have to use it or just come to a point where you'll never be in need of it again. But, you've always got it there in the unlikely case of an attack.

If you do not buy a can of bearspray, that is completely fine. If you're sticking to popular trails, I would suggest trying to at least stay within eyesight of another group. The fact you'll be in a group of 3 in the first place is a good thing...bears rarely attack groups of over 2 people.

Honestly, with your situation (3 people hiking popular trails in the park) I don't see bearspray necessary. Just take precautions...make loud noise--especially when around underbrush or near creeks. Bear bells may not always do the trick, so clapping or shouting may be a better precaution. Some Glacier hikers even resort to singing, which in many cases is an EXCELLENT deterent...it may even scare a few hikers! :)

I hope I haven't completely confused you! It's really up to you. There are some good and bad points to buying it. If you plan on returning to Glacier, Yellowstone, or elsewhere where bears are prominant and plan to do much more hiking in the future, it may be a good idea to go ahead and invest in a can. However, if we're just looking at your trip this year, I don't think I would spend the money.

It's really up to you! Let me know if you have questions!

Have a wonderful trip...it truly is a magical place!

Sean

Coeur d Alene, Idaho
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for Coeur d'Alene
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2. Re: Bear Spray necessary?

Good advice from TNsoccer07, just a couple of additional thoughts.

1. A great alternative to buying bear spray is to go on one of the NPS Ranger guided hikes available, the rangers are a great source of information and you will be in a large noisy group. Most of the major Glacier detinations have guided hikes (Many Glacier is my favorite).

2. If you do buy Bear Spray be sure to check with your transportation back home to properly store it. It is not welcome in check on luggage at airports.

3. As TNsoccer07 mentioned, noise is the most effective means to avoid bears, on the ranger guided hikes I've been on the ranger has made it a point to yodel and shout about every five minutes when walking on trails.

Charlotte, North...
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3. Re: Bear Spray necessary?

Great additional points! I always forget to mention the issue of taking bear spray on planes. I drove out to Glacier in 2006 and will be doing it again this summer, so I never really think about that. And I like the yodeling idea...maybe I should take lessons!

Indiana
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4. Re: Bear Spray necessary?

Thanks for the tips! The guided hikes sound interesting - I may have to look into that. We are driving, so transporting the spray wouldn't be an issue.

5. Re: Bear Spray necessary?

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