LISTEN: Bear spray can blast bruins despite wind, cold and age, study says

Two brown bears on July 10, 2012 in the Kootznoowoo Wilderness on Admiralty Island in the Tongass National Forest. (Photo courtesy Don MacDougall/U.S. Forest Service)

A new study of bear spray shows it remains effective as a bear deterrent despite the effects of wind, cold and age.

The research is published in the Journal of Wildlife Management and shows that even in a strong headwind, bear spray still travels far enough to hit a bear, and that it also remains effective at temperatures well below zero.

The study’s authors, including wildlife biologist Tom Smith with Brigham Young University, recommend following manufacturer guidelines on replacing bear spray canisters after their expiration dates, but they found older canisters still packed enough of a punch to be useful.

Smith says most of the experiments were pretty straightforward, but testing the effects of wind on bear spray, at least at first, was a little… messier.


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Casey Grove is the host of Alaska News Nightly and a general assignment reporter at Alaska Public Media with an emphasis on crime and courts. Reach him at