Though I was waiting for months for the official announcement that bear spray would be legal in the Great Smoky Mountains national park, it was a sharp reader of this web site that brought to my attention the fact that the National Park web site now states bear spray is allowed in the GSMNP.
Months ago I started and became the center of a huge controversy about bear spray when it was brought to my attention that Bear Spray was illegal in the Great Smoky Mountains national park. Questions about misleading, conflicting and confusing visitor information as well as selective enforcement made matters worse.
Bear spray is far more effective that firearms are in a bear attack which by that way, even though there are more than 2 bear per square mile is extremely rare in the Great Smoky Mountains national park.
Since bear spray is far more effective than guns and the chances of collateral damage is far lower, it made perfect since to legalize bear spray since firearms will be allowed in national parks in February 2010.
While I was advised by park officials in late spring that the bear pepper spray law was going to change, I waited until the official announcement from the park to advise my readers about the change in the bear spray law as I did not know exactly when it would become legal.
No news of the change in the bear spray law was ever released publicly; instead a paragraph about bear spray and its legality and use in the Great Smoky Mountains national park was inserted in the GSMNPs hiking page.
Bear Spray (pepper spray formulated for bears) should be only used in an emergency against an attacking bear and not used to keep bear away from campsites or other place you wish to keep bear away from. Spraying an area with bear spray may even attract bears them rather then repel them as they will want to examine what the strange scent is and where it is coming from.
Bear Pepper Spray is only allowed in the Great Smoky Mountains national park for "the strict purpose of protection against bodily harm from aggressive wildlife". It must also contain between 1% to 2% of the active ingredients capsaicin and related capsaicinoids and be commercially manufactured and labeled as "Bear Pepper Spray".
I stumbled into something that made some people working in the park and some locals who refused to comply with the law all along unhappy. While my tenacity about getting to the bottom of this matter may have angered some, they do know my love for the park and how resource protection and public safety are for more important to me than not making waves. I hope that those who I may have aggravated understand my good attentions.
Though I plan to never use it, bear spray will now be part of my hiking gear. I hope that people who will purchase bear spray will learn about it, try it and only use it when absolutely necessary (which in the GSMNP should be almost never).
Just because you are allowed to have a can of bear pepper spray when hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains national park does not mean that you can ignore food storage rules, comply with staying away 50 yards away from bear or using common sense around wild animals.
Just as bear spray is now legal in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, if abused the park may take this right away just as they had to remove chain link fences from shelters as people abused the fences and would throw food out for bears. Be responsible!
Related Stores about Bear Spray and Black Bear
- 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