Skip to comments.Anti-gun spin: Study claims carrying a gun in bear country doesn’t make you any safer
Posted on 03/11/2012 11:06:28 AM PDT by Askwhy5times
An article in the Daily Mail, and other places, cites a study by BYU biologist and bear expert Tom S. Smith that claims carrying a gun in bear country does not make you safer.
Many people have wandered into bear country reassured that their trusted gun would keep them safe if they ever come face-to-face with an aggressive grizzly.The study is published in the Journal of Wildlife Management. The full study is hidden behind a membership wall. I can only comment on the details provided in a lengthy press release posted on BYU's website. Most of the articles add this spin line which is directly from the BYU press release.
But experts have shattered that myth after carrying out a study of hundreds of animal attacks.
A Brigham Young University study found using a gun is no more effective at keeping people safe than not using a firearm.
This finding is especially relevant given the 2010 law allowing guns in national parks.Here are some other relevant excerpts from the press release.
Smith and his colleagues analyzed 269 incidents of bear-human conflicts in Alaska for the study, appearing in the forthcoming issue of the Journal of Wildlife Management. Those incidents involved 444 people and 357 bears, 300 of which were brown bears.There is a serious problem with this comparison. The people involved in these encounters are not bear hunting. It seems reasonable to believe they only used a gun if they felt severely threatened. It is apples and oranges to compare 229 encounters where people felt threatened enough to use a gun on a bear to 40 instances where people had guns, but the threat level never rose that high. The bears in the second group were likely less aggressive. The press release then makes the claim non-lethal deterrent such as bear spray is actually more effective against aggressive bears than a gun.
The researchers found no statistical difference in the outcome (no injury, injury or fatality) when they compared those who used their gun in an aggressive encounter (229 instances) to those who had firearms but did not use them (40 instances).
People should consider carrying a non-lethal deterrent such as bear spray, said Smith, a gun owner himself. Its much easier to deploy, its less cumbersome and its success rate in these situations is higher than guns.
In a 2008 study, Smith found that bear spray effectively halted aggressive bear encounters in 92 percent of the cases.Is this claim valid? Here are some excerpts from the BYU 2008 press release for this study which is also by Mr. Smith.
Hikers and campers venturing into bear country this spring may be safer armed with 8-ounce cans of bear pepper spray than with guns, according to a new study led by a Brigham Young University bear biologist.[...]
Concerned about hikers' and campers' persistent doubts that a small can of liquid pepper spray could stop half a ton of claws, muscle and teeth, Smith and colleagues analyzed 20 years of bear spray incidents in Alaska, home to 150,000 bears. He found that the spray effectively halted aggressive bear behavior in 92 percent of the cases, whether that behavior was an attack or merely rummaging for food. Of all 175 people involved in the incidents studied, only three were injured by bears, and none required hospitalization. Smith and his research team report their findings in the April issue of the Journal of Wildlife Management.Again, there seems to be an apple and oranges situation. The 2008 study includes bears that were merely rummaging for food. It is reasonable to believe the most people wouldn't use a gun because a bear was rummaging for food. Gun use would be reserved for the most aggressive encounters. Additionally, this was a fairly small sample of only 71 incidents where bear spray was used. BYU biologist and bear expert Tom S. Smith claims to not be anti-gun. That may be true. However, he is very pro bear. In this audio recording of an interview, Mr. Smith concedes there are some bears pepper spray will not stop. In those cases, only a gun can settle the issue.
Its not the bears I would be concerned with.
I carry as protection against two legged predators.
Carrying my Kimber keeps me safe from predators be they animal or man or gub mint.
I dispute that Smith is a bear expert. Timothy Treadwell was a bear expert. He lived with bears. They ate him.
I don’t carry because of bears. I carry because of zombies—leftist, criminal, probably Democrat zombies.
A gun sure as hell beats a rock or stick.
You don’t need a 44 Mag or any of those large calibers. When I go to Grizzly country I take a 22 and a Liberal with me. If I encounter an angry Griz, I shoot the liberal in the knee cap with the 22 and run like hell.
Fine. Spray 'em. Then shoot 'em. Then nuke 'em just to be sure.
You are hiking through a remote area. With no warning a large bear suddenly appears. By it actions and the fact that it is charging straight at you, you know you are in immediate danger. You hand goes to your side and reaches for your trusty 629. You draw, fire twice, and the bear drops. At this point you:
a: Examine the fallen bear to make sure it is dead, find the nearest authorities so you can make a full report as well as expose yourself to any kind of bureaucratic nut that may have a problem with people defending themselves.
b: Get the hell out of there and say nothing to nobody.
That's why the statistics about guns being used for self defense are never correct - they are grossly under reported. Knowing the kind of problems people have gotten into by reporting their use of a gun for self defense, if you can leave quietly, who wouldn't? I would for sure.
More bunk from so-called scientists.
I completely agree: this study seems to have taken a predetermined conclusion and then interpreted the data in such a way as to support the conclusion. That kind of study is not scientific, but, unfortunately, shows up far too often in the scientific literature. I usually see that kind of non-science in clinical studies, where researchers set out to prove something is bad (e.g. soda), and collect their data in such a way that they can never show otherwise.
It could be that bear pepper spray would be more effective than a gun at stopping a charging bear. But supporting or refuting evidence is not contained within either of the studies mentioned in the article.
There is a lot more to carrying a gun to keep you safe in bear country. How many of the instances of people using a gun but still being attacked were based on their own stupidity in not avoiding situations or poor choice in weapons such as using too small a caliber.
“If I encounter an angry Griz, I shoot the liberal in the knee cap with the 22 and run like hell.”
That’s a great idea. They love mother gaia’ so might as well turn them into fertilizer later..
And the way to identify bear droppings is that they smell like pepper spray and have little bells in them.
Naturalist science is dead.
This doesn’t even make any sense.
They just print these - to give their followers support.
Rational people read the fine print, realize it is a joke, and laugh at him.
The problem is - our society is chock full of idiots.
My first thought was “how threat-aware were these people?”.
Whatever you pack—pepper spray, a .44, even a bazooka—won’t help you if you’re in your own little world with your iPod or Bluetooth on, instead of being aware of your surroundings.
IOW, as long as you don’t have a pic-a-nic basket you’re safe...
I was out walking in the woods when I got between a grizzly sow and her cubs. She charged me. I’ve had years of martial arts training, so I screamed at her and assumed a defensive stance. She stopped about six feet away, pulled out a 38 and shot me in the leg. She said, “Take that Karate Kid!” and then she ate me.
I think the bears might tend to disagree...JMHO
You have to kill the brain, either with a head shot or by bleeding them out and denying oxygen.
Same with humans.
There was an incident in Seattle 9 years ago. Two gang-bangers shooting at each other over the hood of a car. Each fired more than 10 shots. Each took AT LEAST 5 fatal wounds...and each emptied the clip.
Both died at the scene.
Now the FBI and many state agencies teach officers to shoot AT the hip or the head...drop 'em on the first shot and keep shooting to ensure they bleed out. Even someone shot through the heart can keep shooting for over 3 seconds.
The even more interesting thing is that to use pepper spray effectively on an attacking bear, the bear is supposed to be inhaling when you spray it. There are only a few seconds of spray in the canister. I’d much prefer something a bit more effective.
I'd be embarrassed to be either the author of the "study" or the publisher.
This may be true if you have trouble acquiring the target.
Even if bear spray is 92% effective, like this guy claims, it still stands to reason that you should carry a gun for the 8% of the time that it is not effective. Otherwise, if the spray doesn’t work, you could be SOL.
You left out:
c. Eat the evidence!
“Get a good picture of this, they will kill you and eat you.”
Though, not necessarily in that order.
These same “scientists” probably spent the past few years “researching” global warming. Fools.
check out the photos of this bear from a similar thread the other day. (Post #50)
Ha! Good one!!!
Yea, and neither does walking on the sidewalk, instead of the middle of the street.
this study seems to have taken a predetermined conclusion and then interpreted the data in such a way as to support the conclusionHoly Hide-The-Decline, Batman!
>>...claims carrying a gun in bear country does not make you safer...<<
Not sure about that study, but (to borrow a phrase), if a bear ever gets me, it will have to do so through a hail of bullets.
I live in bear country, even have them sleeping on my porch on once in a while. No way I would expect pepper spray to be effective on anything but a bear not intending me harm in the first place. A charging bear or a pissed off bear trying to get to my fresh baked apple pie in the window will need the force of a heavy firearm. I keep a 44 magnum for home and hiking defense.
Sounds like a good policy when having to draw on two-legged predators, when the outcome did not involve actual bodies on the ground for police to have to account for.
I disagree -- a .44 should be just fine for knee-capping a liberal!
I’ve hiked in MT grizzly country. My question to those that support bear spray. Does wind stop while a bear charges?
My gun’s ammo, regardless of caliber, is not affected much by wind direction 30 yards and in.
Very dishonest. Very few people carry firearms that will put down a bear or develop the skills and anatomy study needed. I live in bear country. The old timers were right. For a revolver, it’s big bore, hardened, wide, flat-nosed, heavy lead traveling at near 1100 fps or faster. A Ruger Blackhawk with such a .45 Colt custom load described above (if you are an experienced and conscientious handloader) or something like this Buffalo Bore load.
(only safe in Blackhawk, Super Blackhawk, and certain other pre-2005 models only—read the info!)
The truth about ballistics and bear defense:
Shooting Holes in Wounding Theories:
The Mechanics of Terminal Ballistics
(need at least a long, .60-inch hole through a central nervous system/major circulatory area—something capable of blowing all the way through such and animal)
And folks, don’t try to depend on pepper mace in the mountains. It will blow downwind fast. It’s windy up here much of the time. And don’t get that close to any bear.
How do you tell if you’re in black bear country? The bear scat will have berries in it.
How do you tell if you’re in grizzly country? The bear scat will have little bells in it and smell like pepper spray.
By the way, the report (bang) of any loud firearm will very likely scare a bear away, even if a bear is wounded (most cases). The information in my last comment was more for the purpose of humane defense (avoiding leaving bears wounded and suffering).
In my case...? There’s a bear that regularly walks by near me to get a drink from a creek. No problems from that bear at all (all black, smaller bear). He’s just another neighbor. It helps that the area is not treed.
There were problems at another location, far from here and several years ago, where neighbors left food in their trash. ...a couple of large males (both unusually large, brown and long-haired) that became too familiar with people there. That area was also heavily treed.
One last thing. In at least some states, local wildlife employees will lean toward prosecuting you for shooting a bear except in cases of local livestock owners doing so because of predation. So they lean way against new residential arrivals, and especially, tourists.
How do they define a bear attack? If I shoot the bear before it actually injures anyone, how is that categorized? Is it thrown out because no one was killed or injured? If the bear doesn’t press the attack and turns tail, how is that categorized? This is a study where you can completely bias the outcome simply by how you define a bear attack.
That is the real world!
Tell you what, let’s take these “scientists”, force them into a bear pit, and give them the option to either take a gun with them, or not.....let’s see how many of them take the gun.
“Very few people carry firearms that will put down a bear or develop the skills and anatomy study needed”
This is the entire point of the study.
He drew a Ruger .454 Casull revolver. There was no time to aim, barely time to squeeze the trigger. Hes not sure whether he got off two shots or three, but one proved fatal.
Total luck shot, he said.
It doesnt get any closer. He slid by me on his chin when I shot him, Brush said. I was backpedaling as fast as I could. I wasnt even aiming. I tripped over my own feet as I pulled the trigger.
He estimated that the animal weighed 900-plus pounds, and was 15 to 20 years old. It had grass packed in its molars and little fat on its bones.
It was starving to death and saw an opportunity, Brush said.
I also read this article about two unarmed people killed in yellowstone by different bears within a month or so of each other.
In Alaska, people expect problems from bears and are normally armed. In Yellowstone, people are not allowed to be armed. In National Parks, you can be eaten alive for the crime of Political correctness. In Alaska, you eat bear. That is my study on the issue.
Guess which one I chose?
That's just silly. A bear wouldn't carry a 38!
Research is not generally performed for knowledge anymore. Research is done to satisfy grant funding. As such, a researcher who wants to continue to get funding will report what will result in further funding down the road.
The big exception is research which is done to find information that will result in a profitable product.
“I dispute that Smith is a bear expert. Timothy Treadwell was a bear expert. He lived with bears. They ate him.”
Treadwell was a bear expert. He has studied them from inside and out.
Carrying a firearm may not make me safer, but it also doesn’t make the bear safer, either.
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