Advantage of Handguns for Defensive Use Against Bears: the Bear is Usually Killed

Predatory Bear, Ashley Gribble Used her Bear Spray

U.S.A. -( – On 5 May, 2019,  Ashley Gribble was walking in the woods with her five dogs. She had bear spray. She encountered a black bear that exhibited typical predatory black bear behavior.

The bear kept coming, even after the bear spray was used.   Fortunately, one of Ashley's dogs, 80 pound Bane, jumped between the bear and Ashley. Here is some of Ashley's account from facebook:

I was able to discharge my bear spray but it did not stop the bear. At this point I'm yelling and backing up while the dogs are barking. As I do so, I fell backwards over a rock. When I was on the ground, the bear just a few feet from me, lunged and I prepared myself for a bite. It was at this moment that my dog Bane lept in front of me and the bear attacked him instead.

This bear picked my 80lb dog up like a stick and proceeded to run with him for a short distance. They grappled, Bane was able to get free and run but then the bear chased him like he would chase a deer, grabbed his behind, bit into his back, covered him with his body and pinned Bane. I'm screaming and yelling help and then before I even knew what was happening, with adrenaline surging through me, my instincts were taking over and I was running full tilt at the bear with a log. I proceeded to beat that bear in the face and head with the log repeatedly, specifically aiming for his eyes and nose. Finally, after about a dozen blows, the bear released Bane and he was able to flee back to the other dogs to safety.

Okay great Bane is safe but now the bear and I were face to face. And right about now I'm wondering WTF did I just get myself into. I screamed as loud as I possibly could and banged the log against the trees beside me. The bear stared at me for what seemed like forever and then for whatever reason the bear decided to give up and slowly retreated up the slope behind him as I backed my way out of the trees towards the waiting dogs.

Fortunately, Ashley's and Bane's actions were enough to stop the attack after the bear spray did not.  The bear had followed Ashley and the dogs for 15 minutes before the attack. The bear had approached to within five feet of Ashley as she attempted to disengage. The dogs had not provoked the bear; the bear did not chase the dogs back to Ashley. Ashley's dog, Bane,  survived 26 puncture wounds from bites and claws, and is recovering.

Ashley is convinced, if not for her dog Bane's actions, she would have been mauled, and likely killed.

This case occurred in British Columbia, near Kamloops, about 250 miles North East of Vancouver. Guns are tightly controlled in Canada, generally, and in British Columbia, in particular. It is almost impossible to obtain a permit to carry a handgun, and unlikely the carry of a long gun, outside of hunting season, would be allowed.

This case shows how useful a handgun would have been. A handgun is no more difficult to carry than bear spray. There were multiple times a handgun could have easily been used to dispatch the bear, or at least frighten it off. In a similar case in Alaska a few days ago, a warning shot was fired at the bear, which then disengaged.

 The second report happened on Monday, closer to McHugh. Battle says in that case, hikers reported seeing a bear above them on a hill. It reportedly circled around and got close to their dog. One of the hikers fired a warning shot with a pistol, driving the bear off.

That bear was not found. Authorities are warning people not to use the Turnagain trail because of the danger of the black bear in Alaska.

In Ashley's case, the authorities found the offending bear and killed it. It was simply too dangerous to have in the vicinity of people.

A better outcome would have been for both bears to have been shot and killed by the people they were stalking and exhibiting predatory behavior toward.

There would be no question about whether the right bear was killed; there would be no expense of searching for the bear; Ashley's dog would probably not have been injured with significant veterinarian bills.

Black Bear
Black Bear

There are about 120,000 to 160,000 black bears in British Columbia.

It may be the largest concentration of black bears in the world. The bear population is thriving.

The bear population has to be contained. It will grow until it is limited by available resources. The only practical way to limit the bear population is for people to kill bears.

It makes sense for a person attacked by a bear to kill the bear at the time, rather than hope for the best, and hope the authorities, at great expense in time and money, find and kill the bear later, before it severely injures or kills someone.

Bear hunt outfitters do a thriving business in B.C. It makes no sense to use save a dangerous black bear, that has become acclimated to humans, so the government can sell another bear hunting license.

It is good to know that Ashley and her dogs survived. It is worth noting only one dog stood up to the bear, even though there were five of them with Ashley.

It is difficult to determine the size of a bear from a picture. The bear was described as a mature male. The B.C. government says adult males weigh 80 to 300 kilograms. The middle of that range would be 190 kilos, or over 400 lbs.

Perhaps readers who deal with bears more than I can look at the bear picture and make an estimate. Ashley also has some video of the encounter at her facebook page.

About Dean Weingarten:Dean Weingarten

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

  • 30 thoughts on “Advantage of Handguns for Defensive Use Against Bears: the Bear is Usually Killed

    1. Black bears are so plentiful in the northern interior of B.C. that I see 10 a day in one bear hunt, sometimes more. None of them are shooters. I will only take a bear if he is 6 foot or more. If there are that many your odds of a bear encounter while in the bush are pretty good. Generally bears run like the dickens when they spot you, its the ones that don’t run are the ones you worry about. If a bear does not run, lowers his head, and slowly approaches you, you are lunch and will be bear scat in the morning if you don’t discourage or kill it. That bear is either injured, sick, or old and can no longer hunt. He is starving. Bear spray may not work then. It is not illegal to carry a long gun in the bush out of hunting season in B.C. Now having said that we have tree planters who go about in remote areas doing their thing and a firearm would get in the way. They do not carry. I would never be a tree planter. We also have lots of people that go missing in B.C. and are never heard or seen again both armed and unarmed. carrying A firearm is only prudent

    2. RE: “Bear hunt outfitters do a thriving business in B.C. It makes no sense to use save a dangerous black bear, that has become acclimated to humans….”
      Can anyone clarify this? The run-on statement “no sense to use save a dangerous bear” befuddles me. And I need to do more than guess what’s an outfitter and how they arrange a government license. This makes it sound like the trophy hunts that are lauded as a conservation success in Africa.

    3. Every human being has the right to self-dense at any time, at any place, and by any means necessary, out to a thousand yards. Self-dense being the defense of ones own life as well as any family members, friends, and any other person that the human being can determine is in danger of unjustifiably losing their life.

    4. I live in the central interior of northern B.C. and if I am in the bush and not on my atv I am always armed in hunting or out of hunting season. There are just too many attacks in B.C from bears both grizzle and black. Many of the attacks go unreported by the press. The country that I live in has lots of apex predators including cougars. I have had on occasion black bears sitting in my drive way and in the back yard. No big deal, their fun to watch, however when they are in the yard and not in the trash or up to other mischief I leave em alone

      1. I have very large Bear, large Lions, Timber Wolves, Elk, Deer, Antelope and large packs of Coyotes on my porch. Bear come at night and close in 4′, can look em in the eye. Lions stalk me in broad daylight at relatively close range inside of 300 yards and they are as big as a cat gets. Wolves are typically night visitors and keep in the shadows and under cover at a fair distance. Coyotes, well they are in packs most of the time and they move at about 35 MPH and hunt anything they can get ahold of. Rattlesnakes are abundant on the porch, 2 kinds Prairie and Green Mohave. I coexist peacefully with all and consider them friendlies. Man is a different story.

    5. “Guns are tightly controlled in Canada, generally, and in British Columbia, in particular. It is almost impossible to obtain a permit to carry a handgun, and unlikely the carry of a long gun, outside of hunting season, would be allowed.”

      I live in British Columbia and have hunted here most of my life.

      Yes, hand guns are near impossible to carry legally here, even in the remote bush.
      However, unless laws have changed that I am unaware of, it is perfectly legal to carry a long-gun or shotgun outside of hunting season. Now, I suppose that if you are stopped, you might be accused of hunting during a closed season, but unless the game warden was a real prick, it should be easy to explain that it is for bear protection.

      1. I appreciate your clarification, but I lament that so many gun owners are forced to say, “Yes, our gun rights are thoroughly trampled, but it’s no big deal, because we get by, nonetheless.” Tyranny is so easy to tolerate, and so hard to fight, especially hard to fight when it at long last reaches that level of being, hmm, just a bit beyond so rather acceptable. People accept a WHOLE LOT of tyranny, without even much complaint, and often with much approval. After all, if it controls one’s neighbors, that is more important than the fact that is also controls them. For some people, the bulk of freedom is the ability to have an i-phone, a morning Starbucks, maybe a job, maybe government support, a good car, and a TV to watch. What else could possibly matter? Well, maybe a long gun that, although highly suspect, might not be totally forbidden, since one might need defense against a possible bear attack.

        1. Correct Bill. Bootlickers think tyranny is freedom and beg for more every day. Can look up the definition of tyranny and it reads USA. Bootlickers have destroyed a perfectly good country and keep voting for more tyranny with every election. A vote to be ruled by another is the perfect prescription for tyranny and fueled by the desire to suppress the neighbor and opposition tyranny rages.

    6. The main reason bears are doing this is because bears are being hunted and killed in their dens with their Cubs, in Alaska. Stop killing them, and they will stop going after people. Bear spray does work, if used properly. The direction of the wind, and distance of the bear plays a key role in its success…just saying…

      1. Stfup,you dimwit,and,go for a nice long walk in bear country with your spray and hug some trees.please don’t take with you anybody needing to be protected, like a kid.

      2. The reason this bear acted in a predatory manner is because it was starving. Humans are not their normal prey and the bear would have to be desperate to attack a person with dogs. Over population is causing reduced resources for the bears causing them to starve, thus the need to hunt to reduce the number of bears competing for food. I’ve never heard about killing the bears in their dens with cubs, that is illegal in my state (Washington) plus I really doubt that bears in Canada know what is going on in Alaska. I have encountered bears out in the woods and have observed them hunting by trying to run down deer, I try to avoid them as much as possible but this does not make me an expert on bears.

        1. Bears in BC don’t know what’s going on in Alaska? Use your imagination. They’re probably using eaglenesters’ internet while he’s away of at work.

          BC is very beautiful when you get away from Vancouver. Even so, five of the lousiest weeks of my life were spent there – working at the 2010 Winter Olympics.

      3. You can’t really believe what you just wrote do you? Black bears are considered an apex predator and will go for you as they would a deer. BTW the bear spray didn’t work in this situation did it? I’m sure an attacking bear will attack from the optimal direction so you can deploy your bear spray according to the directions on the can, just saying.

            1. Get Out,
              They don’t need to. It’s pretty much the same flavor.
              Bear spray is a concentration of Capsaicin and related capsaicinoids between 1 and 2.0% per the EPA regulations. 10%, 20%, or 30% oleoresin capsicum, is pepper spray (personal defense spray), not bear spray. Interesting that people spray is stronger than bear spray.
              Tabasco sauce would clog the sprayer, although one of those super squirters might be a fun thought.

      4. @Debbie, I am pretty sure that what you describe is only granted to the native peoples of Alaska. That second sentence ignores the whole of nature. Have you ever met nature?

      5. This is one of the dumbest, most oblivious to reality statements I’ve ever read. Bears are retaliating because they are being hunted? Are you an imbecile? Bears hunt what they reasonably believe they will be able to overpower and eat; this means YOU! This sounds like there’s a bear complaint website that has enraged the bear community over den invasions. Statements like yours rarely get more preposterous. What stops a predator – of any species – is either a reasonable fear of imminent death, or imminent death. Period. Bear spray? Better than nothing, but not better than a powerful handgun in the hands of a trained marksman.

      6. I hope they will sign a contract that agrees that bears will not kill humans if humans will just leave them alone. Haven’t seen that one, yet. Lions and tigers and bears, oh, my! Wanting all to live in peace and harmony, but nasty humans won’t let them.

      7. Are you really that ignorant? Clearly, Ross is right on the mark. You are foolish and illiterate to even think that bears can reason. Do you really believe they gather in their dens and plot the killing of humans because on of their buddies had his den “raided”, say by the FBI. How is it that you have lived this long?

        1. @Sapper 04, Were you a 12B04? Hope that your time in the big green machine was a blast. And thank you for your service.

      8. Debbie sure lured you guys out, hahahahahahahaha

        They tell me I have an infestation of space aliens here do you think that spray will run em off if they show up? Hahahahahahahahaha.

    7. I now a carry a Remington 870 Tac 14 with number 4 buckshot loads. When out and about in the woods. No bears in my area yet but, big cats are being sited more often everyday. Also carry a USAF survival knife I bought in the 80’s just in case of close in needs. As for the picture of Yogi. Easily 400 lbs. Compared to the one’s I’ve seen in Northern Minnesota.

        1. Spent several summers at and near Pelican lake camping and fishing in the mid to late 80’s. Just south of International Falls. Used to be an old Guy northwest of Orr who had a compound out in the sticks. Lived in a trailer with the doors and windows covered with iron bars. He feed the bears to the consternation of the DNR. We went there every time we were in the area. Usually 5 to 10 bears hanging around. Biggest one there was an old boar named Sam that weighted 6 to 7 hundred pounds.

          1. I was deer hunting, as a teenager, in Kooch, one season. I dropped part of my sandwich. It did not take long for a black bear to smell it from some unknown distance. He came right to my tree, ate my sandwich, put both paws on the tree and looked up at me… longingly. I could see the wheels spinning in his head. I assured him that I did not taste at the same as the sandwich, and he took my word for it and left. I was never so glad to be up high in a deer stand.

      1. Switch to 00 or 000 buckshot. An FBI agent that taught one of the classes I attended told of an incident (in Kansas City?) wherein they raided a drug-dealing motorcycle gang house. First man through the door shot a man in heavy leathers at “across-the-room” distance with #4 buck and was himself shot by the same man for his trouble. The #4 buck pellets failed to penetrate the heavy leather jacket. NOBODY carried #4 again after that.

        1. He only made one mistake. No head shot. Always…I Repeat Always go for the head/face shot when being attacked by any Apex predator. At the very least a blind attacker is far less likely to be able to find you.

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