The pun is so obvious -- given Clayton Cramer's interests I'm almost ashamed that he didn't think of it himself. Mr. Cramer sent an email claiming that no one else is blogging about the important issue of defending oneself against bears and he links to several studies about bears and pepper spray.

Smith said that although research has shown that red pepper spray is highly effective as a deterrent in aggressive grizzly and brown bear encounters when sprayed directly in a bear's eyes or nose, his pilot study shows that spray residues did attract brown bears when used in nonaggressive situations. Brown bear responses to red pepper spray-treated sites in his study ranged from mere sniffing to whole body rolling in the residues, an uncommon bear behavior.

Mr. Cramer recommends a mixed strategy of pepper spray and a .44 Magnum, but another option he fails to mention is the bear-proof suit, which also has the benefit of being truck-proof and arrow-proof. The only downside (if you see it as such) is that the suit's appearance is so unearthly that bears won't even attack it.

The first live tests of Troy Hurtubise's grizzly-proof suit have found that its best protective feature is its bizarre appearance. Hurtubise donned the suit and squared up to a 145-kilogram (320-pound) female grizzly last week but the bear just found it too weird.

When confronted by Hurtubise in the Ursus Mark VI suit, the bear smelled a human, but saw an alien. "There's no grizzly that's going to come near you in that suit," the bear handler told him, after he spent 10 minutes in a cage with the cowering animal.

Unfortunately the Ursus Mark VI wasn't strong enough to face the intended 1200 pound Kodiak, but don't worry, the Ursus Mark VII was completed less than a year later, in 2002. I haven't been able to discover the results of Mark VII vs. Kodiak, but one thing's for sure: I wouldn't coat the suit with pepper spray before jumping in the ring.



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