Safari Club International Foundation (SCIF) distributed another 350 cans of bear spray across the state of Wyoming in early September at three separate events held by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) in Cody, Jackson, and Lander.
“We hope that all hunters and recreationists recognize the importance of being bear safe and urge everyone to always carry bear spray, whether they carry a firearm or not,” says Laird Hamberlin, CEO of SCIF.
The public giveaways took place just before the peak of backcountry activity around Wyoming’s elk seasons. The risk of bear encounters and conflicts is high during this period.
“Bear spray is an effective deterrent in an aggressive bear encounter, and we hope this effort continues to raise awareness and remind those recreating in bear country to be prepared and stay safe,” says WGFD Large Carnivore Biologist Mike Boyce.
The events were publicized directly by the WGFD agency and via local news outlets such as the Jackson Hole News and Guide. Funding for the cans was provided by SCIF and the Wyoming Wildlife Foundation’s Memorial Bear Fund.
“The rate of conflicts with bears is increasing, and the cost of a can of bear spray can be prohibitive. SCIF wants to provide a service that will help licensed hunters avoid conflicts, while also supporting state managers and promoting the sustainability of grizzly bear populations,” says Hamberlin.
These bear spray giveaway events, along with an earlier pilot project this past May during the popular shed hunting opener near Dubois, represent SCIF’s first implementation of its new grizzly bear conservation strategy. That strategy includes providing science-based information to support the sustainability of regulated grizzly bear hunting; providing support for state and provincial efforts to mitigate human-bear conflict; and conducting public outreach and education about bears. SCIF plans to build on its grizzly bear conflict prevention program in Wyoming by working with the National Forest Service and Wyoming Outfitters & Guides Association to install bear proof food storage infrastructure at outfitter sites in the Shoshone National Forest. SCIF is also expanding this effort into Montana, planning a similar program of activity next year with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks in the Eastern Front region.