In a large portion of Montana, bears and lions inhabit the same areas. Carrying, and knowing how to use, bear spray can help help deter an aggresive enounter with large predators. Bear spray may help to deter an attacking lion. Recently, an FWP mountain lion biologist and field technicians used bear spray to successfully turn away an attacking lion.
Bear spray is a one-to-two percent concentration of oleoresin capsicum and related capsaicinoids, a mixture produced when burning compounds, which naturally occur in hot red peppers, are extracted. This irritating substance causes the membranes of the eyes, nose and lungs to swell. The result is a temporary, but nearly total, loss of sight and a restriction in one's ability to breathe. The product is designed to turn back an attacking grizzly bear, or to shorten the length and severity of an attack. The EPA regulates bear sprays and requires it be packaged in at minimum a 7.9 ounce size can.
Until now, there was no evidence on how bear spray might affect a mountain lion and whether it would diffuse a potentially dangerous situation.
Here are what Montana's wildlife managers say are the minimum requirements for the effective use of bear spray to deter mountain lions.
Other features that impact how the bear spray works including the weather, and in particular, the wind's ability to move and disperse the orange cloud of active ingredients. Learn which bear spray to purchase and how to use it to deter bears specifically. [Learn more]
Rich DeSimone, an FWP mountain lion researcher, had an experience where bear spray spared an experienced lion hound and most likely protected two FWP lion researchers from a 120 pound radio-collared female lion. [Read the story]