Another study was released last week showing that common sense and knowledge of animal behavior are more important in avoiding injury from bears than are firearms. As an Alaska guide service that has taught hundreds of people appropriate behavior in Bear Country we are glad to see data supporting our belief that keeping your eyes open and mind alert for bears is the most significant action that we can take in avoiding aggressive encounters with bears of all species.
When the researchers looked at aggressive bear encounters they found no statistical difference in outcome for people with guns and without guns. They did find that bears who encountered people with guns didn’t fare so well. In other words; if a bears acts aggressively towards a person with a gun, the bear gets hurt, but the person is no more likely to escape injury.
The study also concluded that there wasn’t much difference in the outcome of an encounter based on the type or caliber of the gun. The authors also noted that only individuals who had significant experience with firearms at close quarters were able to use them as an effective defense.
So will Arctic Wild guides continue to carry firearms on most of our trips? Yes. But we will also continue to educate ourselves and our clients about avoiding conflicts with bears and we will continue to issue every person on our trips with a pepper-spray canister which have proven more effective in deterring bears than firearms.
Or the full text of the Wildlife Society Article HERE.