Bear Spray Fails Again in Canadian Bear Attack, Ends with Pet Dog Killed

Bear Season Black-Bear iStock-648818154
Black Bear iStock-648818154

Alberta, Canada – In Jasper National Park of Canada, in the Province of Alberta, a couple’s beloved pet was taken by a black bear and killed in a predatory attack.

Bear spray was used at very close range, directly into the bear’s face. Then the empty can of spray was used as an ineffective impact weapon. It did not work well. The predatory black bear took the dog into the woods and killed it without remorse or thought. A bear, when hungry, is not a friend to other animals. The other animals, including other bears, are just a source of meat.

From ParksCanada (facebook):

Parks Canada has reopened a number of trails after a black bear killed a dog this weekend. Wabasso Lake Trail remains closed.

On Saturday, April 22, 2023, at 16:00, two visitors were hiking with two dogs on the Wabasso Lake Trail. The hikers were returning to the trailhead with the dogs running freely between the hikers. They noticed a black bear had approached them within a very close proximity on the trail. One of the dogs chased the bear off the trail a short distance before the bear quickly reversed the chase. The bear came back within a couple feet of one of the hikers where the second dog was standing and barking. The bear attacked this dog. One hiker sprayed bear spray into the bear’s face at close range. The bear did not release the dog and the hiker then used the bear spray can to punch the bear in the head multiple times. The bear still did not release the dog and carried it into the woods.

This close and aggressive approach by a large black bear is very concerning behaviour. The attack on the dog and subsequent caching of the carcass, indicates predatory behaviour. This behaviour is considered a threat to public safety and a risk to park visitors. Parks Canada human-wildlife conflict specialists located the bear and destroyed it on Sunday, April 23, 2023.

The dog did what it was born to do. It alerted its master and made the threat apparent. The master had chosen a poor tool for defense against predatory black bears. There has been research indicating that black bears rather quickly recover from being sprayed with bear spray. Virtually any handgun could have been used to stop the bear attack decisively. One Canadian saved his dog from a bear with a knife.

Stephen Herrero, the noted bear researcher, explained black bears often quickly overcome bear spray in 2017:

“I don’t know why,” Stephen Herrero, the dean of bear research said Thursday evening, “but it showed up in the data.”

As in this case, Herrero said, the spray initially drove bears off, but they came back. This is, however, the first time a fatality has been associated with the failure of bear spray.

Perhaps Stephen Herrero did not know of Russian bear researcher Vitaly Nikolayenko, who was killed by a bear after employing bear spray, in 2003.

These are only the fatal bear spray failures.

Bear spray proponents claim bear spray did not fail, or that bear spray was employed too late to be effective. Bear spray on the fur of the bear which killed the person is a reasonably good indicator of the failure of bear spray. Bear spray has failed many times, where firearms were necessary to stop the bear. Bear spray works, sometimes, on bears that are not determined to attack or are in a predatory mode. Bear spray is not allowed as a defense against polar bears in Svalbard, Norway.

After exhaustive searches for incidents where handguns were fired in defense against bears, only one death was discovered. It happened in 1995 in the Svalbard Archipelago.  A party of thirteen split apart. The party of five relied on a .22 caliber handgun for bear protection.

Cartridge handguns have been used as protection against bears for at least a hundred and thirty years. Bear spray has been used as a protection against bears for about 20 years.  One incident has been recorded where the use of a handgun was insufficient to prevent a human death. At least five incidents have occurred where the use of bear spray was insufficient to prevent a human death.

About 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 retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

Dean Weingarten

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Fact; Generally the predators will target the weakest or smallest or slowest of a group.

Fact; When Canadians decided to be subjects rather than citizens, they relinquished the right to protect themselves.

Conclusion; Experienced Canadian hikers should bring a smaller or slower or weaker person or animal to sacrifice to a hungry bear, (or to any other predator.) A small dog may satisfy a bear. A young child may satisfy a sexual predator.

Knute Knute

That is what happens to “subjects”, that is, dependents who have given the care and feeding of themselves over to others. Or just: “slaves”, to use that old fashioned, nasty… but yet descriptive term for property that is owned and controlled by another. Personally, I could care less what happens to such ones. They’ve made a terribly bad choice to assign their own well being over to another, and so richly deserve whatever horrible plans their master has in store for them. I don’t hate them for their weakness, but instead pity them for the foolish and horrible end that… Read more »

Doug G.

Along this same line of thinking, I’ve met a North Korean defector. One of the things she mentioned, when asked about being in America vs N. Korea, she said there you didn’t have think of what to do next. You were told when to work, when to sleep, when to celebrate the “Dear Leaders” birthday, etc.. Verses here in the US, all those decisions were on you. She said it was very tiring. She is also alarmed at the degree to which Americans have given up their rights in favor of group-think and conformity with leftist ideology. Her name is… Read more »


What’s that saying about bear scat smelling peppery?


And having little bells in it.

The Crimson Pirate

The way to tell black bears from brown bears (grizzlys) by their scat. Black bear scat smells like berries and contains squirrel fur. Brown bear scat smells like pepper spray and contains hiking boots and bear bells.


I live in Western North Carolina where bears are common along public hiking trails. Bear spray is more effective when it is of the lead variety and directed at the bear with a .357 Magnum revolver. Otherwise, not so much.


I live in Texas. We have found that type of bear spray works well for coons. They are prodigious and are into everything. Many are quite aggressive. Much of Texas practices catch and release so they aren’t very afraid of people.


Note to author. I really enjoy reading these accounts. I look forward to them and enjoy the detail. Thank you.


I wonder why they didn’t use the other half of the liberal bear arsenal and ring little bells at him?

If I go into bear country hiking, I’m carrying at least a 10mm.

The Crimson Pirate

Well a 10mm will ring anyone’s bells 😉


I haven’t seen the official report of the fatal attack in 2021 on a hiker near Durango Colorado by a black bear sow. The reports I’ve seen just say that Laney Malavolta was attacked, killed, and fed upon by the bear and two of her cubs, then cached for later snacking. Did Ms. Malavolta carry any weapons during her walk near her home? the CBS report I found didn’t say whether the dogs she had with her were injured. The reports did say that when her boy friend returned home later that day he found the dogs at home without… Read more »


I would like to see someone try a air horn as a defense on a bear to see if it has any justification. Not sure if the loud noise would scare them away or hurt their ears enough for them to move on. I know dogs don’t like them. I don’t believe it would have much affect on a hungry bear. lol


Loud noises? You mean like “BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!”?


I feel that when you are in baer county it would be wise to carry some protection, like a 10mm or 357 Magnum with 180 grain hard point from grizzly ammo and a 12 gauge with slugs loaded


I just figured the bear want a little spice on his food.