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Editor:

I am writing in response to the recent guest column by Brian Nesvik, chief game warden with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. I appreciate all the work that Nesvik and the Department are doing on bear safety and education, and all the resources the state has put into bear conservation over the years. By and large, they are doing a great job working to keep the public (and bears) safe. I hope it continues vigorously, now that grizzlies bears in Wyoming are no longer protected under the Endangered Species Act. However, when Nesvik states, "We recommend that anyone recreating or working in bear country be prepared and carry either bear spray, a firearm, or both," he erroneously implies that it doesn't matter which weapon you choose -- that both are equally effective. That is not the case. Extensive U.S. Fish & Wildlife studies on bear attacks clearly indicate two things: both the duration of the attacks and severity of injuries sustained by attack victims were significantly less when bear spray was deployed in response, versus a firearm. In other words, you are much more likely to deter a charging bear, halt an attack, or escape relatively unscathed if you use bear spray in response to a charging bear. Not only that, but bear spray is far lighter and easier to carry and deploy in the back country. Whether I'm hunting in the fall, skiing early season powder, or backpacking in the summer, I keep my bear spray right on the waist belt of my pack, and I regularly practice grabbing for it and removing the safety. The preponderance of evidence suggests its the best tool for the job. Wyoming Game & Fish should be very clear about that when communicating to the public. Public safety (and bears) depend upon it. Thank you.

DEREK GOLDMAN, Northern Rockies Representative, Endangered Species Coalition, Missoula, Montana

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