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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Field use of capsicum spray as a bear deterrent

Published source details

Herrero S. & Higgins A. (1998) Field use of capsicum spray as a bear deterrent. Ursus, 10, 533-537


This study is summarised as evidence for the intervention(s) shown on the right. The icon shows which synopsis it is relevant to.

Use non-lethal methods to deter carnivores from attacking humans Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

A study in 1984–1994 across the USA (primarily Alaska and Montana) and Canada (primarily British Columbia and Alberta) (Herrero & Higgins 1998) found that after being sprayed with pepper spray, most brown bears Ursus arctos and American black bears Ursus americanus changed their behaviour. Fifteen out of 16 (94%) brown bears and all four (100%) black bears involved in close-range aggressive encounters with people changed the behaviour after being sprayed. However, in six cases (38%), brown bears continued to act aggressively and in three cases (19%) bears attacked the person spraying. Black bears did not leave the area after being spayed. Sixty-six records of bear-human interactions involving pepper spray use were collected from agencies throughout Canada and the USA and from individuals that used spray to deter bears. Results reported here are those involving close-range encounters with aggressive bears. Sprays used were thought to likely contain 10% capsicum extract.

(Summarised by Ricardo Rocha)