Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Clarification finally made by Great Smoky Mountains national park on Bear Spray: It's illegal.

When we first reported that bear spray is illegal in the Great Smoky Mountains national park and provided the law in writing, some people questioned the accuracy of what they felt was our interpretation of the law and to further confuse matters, someone in the parks Sugarlands backcountry office gave out conflicting information on April 20th which was posted onto a web site.

I immediately requested confirmation as to the legality or illegality of Bear Spray in the GSMNP which I have finally received today from Steve Kloster the Tennessee District Ranger.

There is no legal form of bear spray allowed in the Great Smoky Mountains national park and like any other weapon, trap or net, it is illegal to carry, possess or use in the Great Smoky Mountains national park.

Information given out previously by someone in the backcountry office that there was a legal form of bear spray was in error.

We advise anyone who visits the Great Smoky Mountains national park to obey all laws including weapons laws and not bring a loaded gun, bear spray or any other weapon into the national park.

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connie said...

Thanks for your persistence on this!

Smokies Hiker said...

Thank you.

My primary concern is for the cultural, natural and wildlife resources of the park. I will continue to devote my efforts to protect them and hopefully inspire others to do the same.

My second concern is to promote responsible visitation which will protect the resources and in turn help drive the local economy.

Sadly this story has upset many people putting me in the middle and potentially damaging some relationships along the way, but my sense of responsibility would not let me leave the story half told, not verify the truth or allow false information to circulate.

The lack of expeditious answers has caused some well placed people outside of the area to contact me and I believe will be very helpful in the future.

smoky scout said...

Thanks for pursuing this issue to the "legal" end, Chris. I'm sure the debate will continue of whether the current law is "right" or "safe" or "ethical" or whatever. I know you took some hits because of your persistence, but I appreciate your tenacity and your motives in persisting with the Park Service until they issued an official statement.

dan said...

hey Chris,glad you got the answer thought I saw you over at cades cove today,thats right I made it down thru Sunday.. Dan

Smokies Hiker said...

Spent hours in Cades Cove exploring some back fields and hiking the roadway.

Great birding today and as usual a bear that seems to want to get way to close to people.

This story is not over it seems as more information has just come to light that I am waiting for substantiation in writing.

gmagsnphiker said...

I wonder when the Idiots will outlaw walking sticks. After all, someone may smack a poor bear on the nose. That would be SOOOOOOOO damaging to the cultural, natural and wildlife resouces of the park and be SOOOOOO insensative to the bears.

Like a person should be made a criminal for carrying a completely natural substance, i.e. pepper spray inside the park.....give me a break!

As for your being in the middle, Smokies Hiker, you are "in the middle" because you always blindly support any rediculous law or regulation the college educated, high paid bureaucrats pass, instead of applying common sense to an issue and criticizing when criticism is warranted.

The Patriot said...

Well, doesn't that just make all kinds of sense? As a former police officer, I was sprayed with pepper spray on multiple occasions both during training and on the job. But spray a bear? Oh the horror! And this nonsense about licensed permit holders not being allowed to carry concealed handguns is simply absurd as well. Every prediction the anti-gun crowd makes about lawful firearms ownership has been proven absolutely false, yet the ignorance and misconceptions continue.

As a friend commented to me on this topic, protecting yourself in the national park is illegal, but wild animal and bear attacks on humans are still legal, although discouraged.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for following up. Frankly, the Park Service screwed up royally. First, because it was vague whether or not pepper spray was allowed. People have a right to know what they is allowed and what is not allowed. If it took someone like you this long to get a straight answer, think of the prejudice to a normal tourist or hiker.

Secondly, I really do not see the harm in allowing people to carry pepper spray if it makes them feel better. For the record, I would not carry pepper spray, but I have no objections to others doing so.

But, with all respect to Patriot, I remain totally opposed to handguns and concealed weapons in the Park. A handgun, which is designed for only one purpose - to kill human beings -- is subject to serious misuse as we know from the recent rash of murder/suicides which have taken the lives of over 70 people in the last 6 months in Alabama, North Florida, Georgia, South Virginia, Western Pennsylvania and Northern New York. I feel much safer knowing that handguns are prohibited.

Dan said...

Found this blog while searching for info concerning our upcoming visit to GSMNP. Thanks so much for a definitive answer.

With respect to the most recent anonymous comment, that is the attitude, misconception, and mis-statement of fact that we as law-abiding gun owners face every day. A handgun was made for only one purpose, but that purpose was to protect human beings. And although they can be misused (as can just about any other object that can result in death), handguns weren't exclusively used in the 70+ deaths you mentioned.

You may feel safer knowing that handguns aren't permitted, but I feel just the opposite. Because I know that there's a bad guy hanging around the park that is going to feel safer attacking me and my family because handguns aren't permitted. But I guess bad guys are indeed part of the cultural, natural, and wildlife resources of the park.

Anonymous said...

The park superintendent does have the authority under 36 CFR 1.5 (a)(2) to allow bear spray. Most western parks with bears do allow bear pepper spray and do not consider it a weapon.

For example - Yellowstone's regulations state: "Bear pepper spray may be carried by individuals within Yellowstone National Park for the strict purpose of protecting one's self or others from bodily harm against aggressive wildife. It should not be applied to people, tents, packs, or other equipment or surrounding area as a repellent."

I personally carry it any place where there are grizzlies, but am usually not too worried about black bears unless it's been noted that there are aggressive bears.

Anonymous said...

Dear Dan:

I have had gun owners draw weapons on me three times in my life. In two instances, the people later apologized profusely and in the third, the person was drunk in the middle of a hot day in the field of a farm. All three instances were totally unprovoked but the gun owners were apparently a little too eager to find a chance to draw the weapon.

I am an extremely law abiding, non-violent person, and I was around guns as a kid. I probably fired more types of guns than most people (Ak-47, M-16, grease gun, shotguns, 22 caliber rifles, revolvers, 9mm automatic handguns). They can be fascinating, but guns scare me.

And by the way, a good friend of mine, with extensive police experience, had 2 negligent misfires with a Glock: once when he was putting it in his locker and once when he was taking a dump. So don't be so confident about gun safety. The best gun safety is no guns.

Guns are not like knives, hammers, cars, ecetera. The gun is designed to kill humans. If you use it, and use it right, someone ends up dead. By defination, a tool designed to kill people is dangerous. It is that simple.

gmagsnphiker said...

Anonymous, you are totally clueless.

So you were just minding your own business when THREE DIFFERENT people drew guns on you....I doubt it.

As for your police friend....does the word incompetent mean anything to you?