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Grizzly Bear Managers Clarify Bear Spray Recommendations

Government agencies that manage grizzly bears have been reviewing their bear spray recommendations. And they’ve agreed to a few clarifications. The Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) says bear spray is one of the best ways to prevent or end a bear attack.

The IGBC, however, stops short of making specific product endorsements in its educational materials.

During its meeting Tuesday in Missoula, it took steps to be even more vigilant against inadvertently favoring one bear spray product over another.

Scott Jackson says UDAP, a Butte-based bear spray manufacturer, requested that assurance:

"Yes, they felt that some of previous products showed a red can. There’s only one product of bear spay that is produced using a red can – and it’s not UDAP. So they felt that was an implied endorsement," says Jackson.

Jackson is the national carnivore program leader for the U.S. Forest Service and an IGBC advisor. He says UDAP also questioned the Grizzly Bear Committee’s recommendation that bear sprays have a six second spray duration:
"They had reasons for disagreeing with that," Jackson says. "They felt they were not scientifically-based recommendations, that their product was adequate and safe to use without quite meeting that six-second criterion. So they asked us to reconsider our positions."
Jackson says the Butte company’s products produce pepper spray durations of just under 6 seconds, but can also emit multiple bursts of 1 to 2 seconds each. He says that’s adequate in most cases.

All bear sprays must be registered with the Environmental Protection Agency. The Grizzly Bear Committee also affirmed EPA’s bear spray standards as "adequate" and requested the agency consults with IGBC if it ever reevaluates those standards. The committee unanimously endorsed those recommendations.

O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the University of Montana School of Journalism. His first career job out of school was covering the 1995 Montana Legislature. When the session wrapped up, O’Brien was fortunate enough to land a full-time position at the station as a general assignment reporter. Feel free to drop him a line at
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