Yesterday I posted an article about bear spray being illegal in the Great Smoky Mountains and in other national parks. This information came to light after Chris Hibbard over at Your Smokies brought attention to the law after a discussion he had with one of the Supervisory Wildlife Biologists in GSMNP.
A great deal of confusion was generated about the law because it is a known fact, or it is accepted, that bear spray is legal in some of the western national parks. In fact, several national parks even go so far as to recommend carrying the spray when hiking. The source of the confusion came from the fact that there was no mention of inclusions or exclusions in the language of the law.
Last night, Kurt Repanshek from the National Parks Traveler blog provided some additional clarification to the law after a discussion he had with park officials from Grand Tetons National Park. Kurt quotes Jackie Skaggs, spokeswoman for GTNP, from his discussion:
"Superintendent's commonly further define and/or clarify park-specific rules and regulations that are applicable to their park unit through a legal instrument called the 'Superintendent's Compendium.' The Superintendent's Compendium is the legal document that Grand Teton NP uses to address and define the appropriate possession, and use, of bear pepper spray."
To see the full report on National Parks Traveler and more quotes from Ms. Skaggs on this subject, please click here.
The information that Kurt has provided indeed explains why bear spray is legal in some national parks, but not in the Great Smoky Mountains. The only question that remains is why hasn't the Superintendent for the Smoky Mountains used this compendium to override the ban in the Smokies? Given the fact that there are now more than two bears per square mile within the Park's boundaries, in addition to the rash of aggressive bear activity last year, you would think that Park officials would allow the use of bear spray so that individuals would have some form of protection, if they feel the need.
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