Since our last new story about the use of bear spray in the Great Smoky Mountains national park more documents have surfaced online written by people within the GSMNP that were in contradiction to what I was told. Information was also circulating about the parks superintendents power to change or make exclusions to existing laws.
Bob Miller the Management Assistant and one of the official parks spokespersons issued to me in writing the following official park statement:
Status of Bear Repellent Spray in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
In response to recent conflicting information, we want to clarify the Park’s posture regarding the possession and use of bear repellent spray.
Under 36 CFR Section 1.4, an "irritant gas device" is considered a weapon by legal definition and is therefore prohibited under 36 CFR Section 2.4. Items marketed and sold as bear repellent would typically meet the legal definition of a weapon. The Superintendent does not have the discretion to authorize the possession or use of a weapon for this particular purpose. As with any regulation, the degree of enforcement is a discretionary function that the individual Ranger makes in each instance based upon the totality of the circumstances and the possession and/or use of bear repellent would be evaluated in the same manner as any other violation.
Do with this information as you may. For those like me who would not want to depend upon discretion of an individual Ranger who may have had a bad day, the bear spray stays at home when I am in the park.
For the many of you contacting me about petitioning the Great Smoky Mountains national park to have the superintendent make the bear spray legal, you now have your answer. It won't help.
Though I make my living on the internet I am still amazed at both the positive and negative power that it holds. It has created far more transparency for the average citizen well as the unfortunate ability to spread false and or misleading information.
Though it has created great aggravation for me and I sure the Great Smoky Mountains national parks as well, I must commend the people who did not believe me and they in turn also kept getting the run around or wrong information which they disseminated on the internet exposing this issue that is still not as black and white that we all wish it to be.
Related Bear Spray and Black Bear News
- Bear Spray is now legal in the Great Smoky Mountains national park
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park Black Bear encounter
- Is Bear Pepper Spray Legal or Illegal in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park?
- Bear become bolder in the GSMNP and questions remain about bear spray
- Clarification finally made by Great Smoky Mountains national park on Bear Spray
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park Official Statement on Bear Spray
- Black Bear in the Great Smoky Mountains Safety Information