Another documented bear spray failure. In this case the victim chose to use bear spray instead of the pistol he had with him. It is an interesting contrast with Kim Woodman, who was also charged by a sow grizzly with cubs. Kim had a 10 mm pistol, a Glock model 20. He stopped the charging grizzly at almost contact distance. Kim only had 30 yards to react. Todd says the grizzly charged him from 80 yards off.
I yelled a number of times so she knew I was human and would hopefully turn back. No such luck. Within a couple seconds, she was nearly on me. I gave her a full charge of bear spray at about 25 feet. Her momentum carried her right through the orange mist and on me.
Todd had a pistol with him, attached to his pack. It may have been in a chest holster, but he did not access it. We do not know precisely how the pistol was holstered, the caliber, or Todd's decision making process. We know he had time to have his bear spray out and ready, and that he started spraying when the bear was at about 25 feet. It did not work.
The sow left after mauling Todd. He was able to walk, so he started back toward his truck, three miles away. He had been on the trail to get help for 8-10 minutes when he was attacked the second time. Return attacks by bears are not uncommon. From Todd:
I tried to peek out without moving but my eyes were full of blood and I couldn't see. I thought that if she came back a third time I would be dead, so I had to do something. Staying in position on the ground, I slowly reached under my chest to grab at the pistol I was unable to get to earlier. I felt I needed something to save my life. The pistol wasn't there. I groped around again but nothing. I wiped the blood from one eye and looked around.
No bear. The pistol and holster were lying five feet to my left. The bear's ferocious bites and pulling had ripped the straps from the pack and the holster attached to it. Now trashed, that backpack may have helped prevent many more serious bites on my back and spine.
Todd Orr's bear attack has gone viral. Bear spray manufacturers will no longer be able to claim that bear spray has never failed.
When I talked to Kim Woodman about his attack, I asked about his opinion on bear spray. He said that it might be useful in some circumstances, but that he would want armed people with him as back up, in case the bear spray did not work. The reputation of bear spray is built on its use on non-aggressive bears that are merely curious, and/or far too habituated to the presence of humans.
©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
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