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Bear Spray

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Kingston, Canada
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3,689 posts
102 reviews
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Bear Spray

I know this might be an odd question, but...

We will be spending about a week and a half touring around the area in August, starting and ending in Jasper. I think I'd like to have a can of bear spray with us, just as insurance, but since we are flying home we won't be able to bring it home with us. I see renting is an option, but by the time I pay to rent it appears it would be cheaper to buy it. Is there anywhere that sells used but unexpired bear spray? There must be an abundance of canisters somewhere, from people like us who want to buy it but can't take it home with them.

Thanks.

ktown

Jasper, Canada
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for Jasper, Jasper National Park, Canadian Rockies
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107 reviews
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1. Re: Bear Spray

The problem with a used canister of bear spray is that there is no way of knowing if the canister has been sprayed already (in which case, it may not have enough pressure for future use), or if it has frozen (which apparently also affects it). Perhaps the rental operations weigh them to be sure they are full - ?

I'm sure if you just leave it behind at your accommodation, someone will be thankful to have it - or you could drop it off to the Parks Canada trail office or donate it to the Friends of Jasper National Park; maybe they need some for their group hikes, or either organization might use it for training purposes. I'd be happy to take it off your hands too. ;-) Usually when I get a new canister to replace an out-dated one (although I do tend to carry them beyond their "best before" date), I take my old one somewhere and fire it off, for practice. I haven't done this for years though; last time I replaced mine, it wasn't because it was out-dated but because I had dropped the old one into the gutter at the side of the street as I was unloading my hiking stuff from a friend's car, and it broke open and sprayed and drained onto the pavement. I got a very small indirect whiff of it too.... phew! powerful stuff! It took the whole rest of the summer before the red streak in the gutter leading to the storm drain got washed away.

Kingston, Canada
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3,689 posts
102 reviews
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2. Re: Bear Spray

Thanks for the info.

It's a drag that there isn't anywhere to buy used canisters - since you can rent them there must be some way to tell if they've been discharged - there may even be lot #'s etc so you could be sure that it hasn't even gone through a winter so likely hasn't frozen.

Anyway, thanks a lot for your help.

ktown

Hudson Valley
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1,788 posts
10 reviews
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3. Re: Bear Spray

We always run into the same problem. We just suck it up and buy the spray. At the end of of the trip we drop it off at a ranger station or visitor's center (or give it away to another visitor we meet). I agree - it's too bad you can't buy ones that have been previously owned, but not sprayed.

Kingston, Canada
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3,689 posts
102 reviews
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4. Re: Bear Spray

Seems like a good business idea for anyone so inclined - sell used bear spray. There's probably some reguation or other that would make this difficult though.

Anyway, I'll try to find a good home for our bear spray before we leave Jasper.

Thanks.

ktown

West Palm Beach...
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798 posts
43 reviews
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5. Re: Bear Spray

I wonder where you can rent it and the cost versus the cost of a new can? Seems like a great idea for a business. I will need to buy or rent two since I don't think you can take it across the border and I will be in Glacier and Jasper areas.

Jasper, Canada
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for Jasper, Jasper National Park, Canadian Rockies
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6. Re: Bear Spray

As far as I know, you can take it across the border if you are driving, so long as it meets the labelling requirement in Canada (it has to specifically be labelled as a bear deterrent). I did some googling before taking ours across the border (and back) a couple of years ago and that was the information I had found then. We were never asked about it either way.

Just googled and found these links:

https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/878/~/want-to-bring-bear-spray-into-the-u.s.

cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/publications/dm-md/d19/d19-1… (see page 11, #25c)

West Palm Beach...
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7. Re: Bear Spray

Thanks. That will save us some money.

San Jose, CA
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8. Re: Bear Spray

Hi, When I traveled to the Yellowstone area in 2000, we bought bear spray. Then, when we went to fly out of the Jackson, WY airport, we had to figure out what to do with it. An employee there (can't remember if he was a police officer or airport security?) said that if we gave him the money to ship it, he would ship it to our house. So, we took a chance and shipped it through him. It did arrive at our house! So, you could check with the postal service and see if it can be shipped to your home.

Madison, Wisconsin
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9. Re: Bear Spray

Is bear spray necessary if we will only hike those popular trails?

Jasper, Canada
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for Jasper, Jasper National Park, Canadian Rockies
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17,920 posts
107 reviews
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10. Re: Bear Spray

Your odds of encountering a bear are probably less on more heavily used trails, but having said that, most of my bear encounters have been on very heavily used trails on Pyramid Bench, often within sight of town (but there is also a higher probability, since I am on these trails a few times a week). And actually, in the 20 years I have been in the house where I currently live, right in town, we have had a bear right in our yard on at least 9 occasions, and I have also seen bears in town a couple of times while walking or cycling home late at night. How's that for reassurance? LOL

Almost all my trail encounters have been at some distance and have been uneventful... I see a black bear, stop and watch it, it continues on its way, I give it a few minutes, and then continue on mine (assuming it didn't go in the direction I am planning to go, otherwise, I switch to "plan B"). I have never encountered a grizzly bear while on a trail, although the tracks showed that we had crossed paths with one once on a backpacking trip in the Poboktan valley.... it passed by our campsite, heading downhill, sometime on our first evening or overnight. But in a location like that, I would normally assume there are bears around anyway, and trust that they want to meet me even less than I want to meet them. The trick is to let them know you are there so that you don't surprise them,

In many years of living and hiking in the Canadian Rockies, I have never actually had to use my pepper spray - I have had the safety off several times during encounters with aggressive elk though (I am almost completely positive these aggressive reactions were precipitated because I had a dog with me), and I have a friend who swears she would have been dead or at least seriously injured by an elk cow had she not sprayed it as it charged her. (She happened upon the elk and a very young calf inadvertently, out in the open with no trees or rocks to hide behind.)

The risk of any kind of wildlife encounter where you might actually need to use the spray is very, very, very low. Driving to and from the trail head is much more dangerous, statistically speaking yet we don't ever give that a second thought, although we do take the basic precaution of wearing a seatbelt. Having bear spray does not mean you can silently hike blithely along, unaware of your surroundings, it just gives you a possible means of protection, as a last resort. I say "possible" protection because a situation could arise in which you either can't use your spray in time, or wind conditions might be such that it would make the situation worse to use it (you would get a back spray and wind up incapacitating yourself). So even having it is no guarantee and the important thing is to try to avoid an encounter in the first place.

They never used to, but Parks Canada has been recommending more and more lately that hikers carry bear spray (and they even require it on at least one trail in Banff NP) but sometimes I think that has more to do with lessening potential legal liability, and, in the case of the trail restriction, it's an effective way of lessening hiking traffic on that trail without actually closing it.... not only will those without bear spray avoid using that trail, so will the more "bear phobic".

Probably the vast majority of people using trails in the parks do not have bear spray - most visitors don't. Personally, even though I know it's basically all in my head, I carry bear spray because it gives me just a little more peace of mind about being out there in "bear country" (and elk country!)

Sorry to go on and on... the short answer is that yes, if you hike on the busier trails, there is less chance of a bear encounter, especially if you are in a group of four or more people.