Thursday, November 27, 2008

Bear Attack: Lessons to be Learned

DSC_2943 I just got done reading an article on's blog: Getting Beyond the Bear. It was a pretty scary and graphic story about a father and daughter surviving a bear attack in Glacier National Park. I'm glad the two victims survived and lived to tell the tale. However, my frustration with outdoor survival (or tragedy) stories is that they tend to avoid any criticism of the victim's actions. I understand that the victims have been traumatized enough, but I think these stories could have a more useful purpose besides scaring the reader if more objective analysis of the mistakes made would follow. So here are two mistakes that I noticed that were not addressed by the story involving bear pepper spray:
  1. Bear spray was carried but not handy—Those “handy” mesh side pockets on backpacks are not so handy when it comes to accessibility. Whenever I store stuff in them I inevitably have to take my backpack off to reach it. Charging Momma Bear is not going to wait for you. Carry your bear spray like a cop carries a gun—near the front, easy to grab, unobstructed.
  2. Hiking partner did not know how to release the bear spray safety tab—Know how to use the bear spray—that includes your hiking partners. The daughter saw the bear pepper spray laying on the ground (it fell out of the mesh pocket during the attack) and grabbed it, but panicked because she DID NOT KNOW how to release the safety tab. PRACTICE! Releasing the tab should be second nature because NOBODY can think clearly in a panic situation. Everybody reverts to instinct. Knowledge becomes instinct when practiced thoroughly.
(View my photos of Glacier National Park on flickr.)

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