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About a week ago I was reading some information with regards to the pros and cons of hiking alone in the wilderness. One person participating in the discussion mentioned that he carries an air horn in case he ever runs into a bear on the trail.
I found this admission to be quite interesting because I've often wondered myself whether such a device would work or not. My thoughts were that the high-decibel noise coming from an air horn might be more effective than bear spray because:
1) You don't have to worry about the direction of the wind
2) You don't have to wait for the bear to get close enough before sounding the horn
3) Bears have much better hearing than humans, thus the noise would bother them even more than humans
4) When a problem bear is captured and then released, biologists/rangers always use lots of noise to scare the bear so that it stays away from humans in the future
Never hearing anyone else make a similar suggestion, I just assumed that it probably wasn’t a good idea. However, upon reading that posting in the forum, I proceeded to do a little research on the internet. I immediately found one person who claims to have successfully used an air horn to scare a bear away. This was from a personal website, so I wasn’t about to put my life on the line based on one website claim.
Digging a little bit deeper, I found an article on the Columbia Cascades National Park website which stated:
“Air horns are unproven in their effectiveness. High-pitched noises can arouse curiosity or irritate a bear.”
However, the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife did recommend using air horns while hiking to scare aggressive bears away. Furthermore, according to an article in the Alaska Star, wildlife managers in Banff, Canada and Eugene, OR also use air horns to scare urban or problem bears away.
I found a few other examples of wildlife mangers suggesting that air horns are an effective deterrent to aggressive bears as well.
Just out of curiosity, do any of you know of anyone that has successfully used an air horn during a bear encounter anywhere? Have you ever heard a so called bear expert recommend that hikers should use air horns as a deterrent?
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