KODIAK — A study by Utah’s Brigham Young University has concluded that firearms don’t offer fail-safe protection against bears.
As first reported by the Salt Lake City Tribune, biologist Tom Smith and others analyzed 269 bear-human incidents in Alaska between 1883 and 2009 in which a firearm was involved.
The analysis found the firearm made no statistical difference in the outcome of the incidents. The results were published in the Journal of Wildlife Management.
“Guns are great, but for a gun to be great you have to be very, very good. No one ever practices on a 500-pound animal charging at you through the brush at 10 meters. They practice on paper targets,” Smith told the Salt Lake Tribune. “It really isn’t about the kind of gun you carry. It’s about how you carry yourself.”
Larry Van Daele, the lead bear biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game office in Kodiak, said Smith’s data may be incomplete. As he told the Tribune, people who deter an attack with a shotgun blast over a bear’s head may never be reported.
Van Daele agrees 100 percent with the conclusion that firearms shouldn’t be used as a crutch in the backcountry.
“Whatever technique you use is going to be only as good as you are. The best protection is to be prepared mentally, be prepared to deal with a situation,” he told the Tribune.
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