Preparation is key for bear safety


KALISPELL, Mont. - On Saturday a bear was shot after it charged a man hiking in Glacier National Park. He deployed his bear spray and then shot the bear, which ran off into the woods. The hiker was not injured, but the incident has raised questions about hiker safety.

Park officials agree that bear spray is the No. 1 defense against bears. But do people actually know how to use it?

Ben and Megan Snell are visiting the park from Pennsylvania, and they have already seen some bears on their trip. They heard about bear spray, and that's about it.

"We didn't know how to use it," said Megan Snell.

That was the same with many of the visitors we spoke with. Many knew about bear spray, but not how to use it. The Snells rented bear spray from Glacier Outfitters in Apgar Village.

"Everybody that I've talked to, we give them directions on how to use it. And nobody has said 'Yeah, no problem, I totally know how to use this.' Everybody who wants it wants to know exactly how to use it,"said co-owner Chris Gibson.

Gibson says preparation and knowing how to use the spray are key.

He demonstrated for us how to use the spray. You slide off the plastic safety and then press down on the trigger to unleash the spray. He also says that you need to have it ready to go at a moment's notice.

"You've got to have it accessible. So it's all about keeping it on your hip or on your pack where you can easily get at it pretty quickly," said Gibson.

After this weekend's scare with a bear charging a hiker, Gibson says hikers need to prepare more than ever before they head out.

"When you're out in the woods anywhere around here, you can count on the fact that there's bears in the woods around you," said Gibson.

Saturday's incident is still under investigation and the bear has not yet been located.