Experts weigh in on Montana bear attack

SPOKANE, Wash. --- Following a recent grizzly bear attack in Montana, many people wondered if the victim’s bear spray even helped protect him in the mauling.

Experts that spoke with KREM 2 argue that Todd Orr did the right thing using his bear spray during the attack.

“Bear spray is a preferred thing, obviously if people are hunting they will have a gun,” said Madonna Luers, a public information officer from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Chuck Bartlebaugh, from the Be Bear Aware and Wildlife Stewardship Campaigns, broke down what went wrong when Orr was seriously injured after the attack.

“He [Orr] was jogging up behind the bear, which would sound like another bear chasing after her [the mother bear],” commented Bartlebaugh. “If you are a mother bear with cubs any adult male or female can kill your cubs. Anything that charges up from behind is a threat,” he added.

Both Luers and Bartlebaugh agreed bear spray is the best weapon to use in a grizzly attack.

However, some people wonder why the bear kept attacking Orr after he used bear spray. 

Bartlebaugh mentioned that Orr was probably too close to the bear when he used the bear spray.

“The time that you spray and the time the bear contacts you, the bear does not have time to respond to the effects,” Bartlebaugh said.

However, even if you do not use the bear spray until right before an attack, it will still help.

“It will help stop the attack sooner,” Bartlebaugh said.

“Bears travel at least five feet while you are pressing the trigger,” said Bartlebaugh.

 He said It is important that if someone sees a bear they use the spray before the bear gets any closer.

“The closer the bear the more likely there will be some contact, but that contact will be reduced,” Bartlebaugh added.

Bartlebaugh said when the bear finally feels the effect of the bear spray, it will run off.

“It is possible he [Orr] sprayed over the top of the bear,” said Bartlebaugh.

Hikers are encouraged to make noise while they are hiking and to always use a buddy system, not just for bear attacks, but for possible injuries, weather issues or other emergencies.

“Glacier Park and Yellowstone, really advocates clapping, wearing bells, singing, so bears can hear you coming and get out of your way,” said Luers.

Luers warns that grizzly bears are a federally protected species.

“You do not take lightly shooting a bear,” said Luers.

While the chances of a grizzly attack are more common in Montana, the chances of a grizzly bear attack in Washington are pretty low.

“Maybe there is a maximum of 100 Grizzly Bears compared to 30,000 black bears,” Luers commented.

Black bear attacks are more likely to happen in Washington.

No matter what kind of bear you run into, mother bears will still be protective of their cubs.



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