Bear Spray Works in Great Bear Wilderness, Montana
Dan Kotter works with a team that researches grizzly bears and their population. He had plannned on hiking into Great Bear Wilderness, just south of Glacier National Park. The first day was going to be a 15 mile hike on Devil Creek Trail, camp over night, then hike out the next day as part of the research project.
The Devil Creek Trail is a route that Kotter has traveled before, collecting bear hair samples from rub trees that are repeatedly used by bears along the trail. Kendall is using rub tree hair samples from across the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem to monitor grizzly bear population trends.
It was a foggy day and visibility was poor, as Kotter came across a couple different bear tracks, one of which he recognized as being a grizzly bear's. As he hiked over a pass he became more vocal, to avoid a surprise encounter.
He heard something in the brush, that he thought might be a cub. Instead a large grizzly came out of the brush, stood up on its legs and made a clacking sound with its jaws. Kotter already had his bear spray unvelcroed and ready. The bear dropped down to all fours and started a medium paced gallop towards Kotter. Kotter trying to remain calm, backed up slowly, with the bear spray in his hand. Then he slipped on some snow, and went down on his side and sprayed in the direction of the bear. At one point he felt the paw on his thigh, and kept spraying. As long as he could hear the bear he kept spraying.
The incident with the bear happened very fast, but it will be unforgettable for Kotter. He scrapped his hiking plans and went back to the trailhead. He is unsure when he will feel comfortable hiking alone again. Kate Kendall, a U.S. Geological Survey scientist who is leading the research, and has worked with bears over a decade says this is the closest call anyone on her team has ever experienced. From DailyInterLake.com.