Wildsafe BC is hosting a clinic on bear safety and encounter prevention. The clinic will focus on the proper use of bear spray and when to use it as a “last best defense.”
Kathy Murray of Wildsafe will be teaching the free clinic, which is set for Aug. 26 at 6 p.m and meeting at the gazebo at the mountain bike park.
“We’ve just got more and people using the trail. More people in a wildlife habitat obviously increases the potential for humans and wildlife and [bear spray] is a really good tool,” said Murray. “If you end up in a situation where you have surprised a bear at close range, a bear may be wanting to make contact with you, knowing how to use bear spray will give you the confidence to do the right thing.”
According to Murray, the right thing entails remaining calm, standing your ground, and not giving in the instinct to run, as this might provoke a chase situation. Bear spray is a tool that can be used to help in certain situations. “If you do have bear spray with you and if you’re confident and know how to use it, that will hopefully empower you to make the right decision, remain calm and back away slowly, and leave the bear an escape route,” she said.
For practice purposes, Murray has inert bear spray that has the same pressurization as normal spray, but is lacking the cayenne pepper, and is therefore not potent. “It’s very safe to use,” said Murray, “It’s a great way to actually get confident and learn about the use of it.”
The Wildsafe Elk Valley Facebook page currently features a video that teaches proper bear spray techniques.