Pack bear spray in picnic basket when visiting Yellowstone

By VINCENT DEL GIUDICE

Grizzly bears are capable of running as fast as 40mph (64.4kph).

Close encounters with hikers are a risk in the Yellowstone National Park area in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, and park rangers recommend packing protection akin to Mace for Manhattan muggers — bear spray.

The grizzly population of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem has more than tripled since 1987 to more than 700. About 150 call the park home. The bears were declared a “threatened species” in the lower 48 states in 1975. Grizzly relatives also reside in Alaska.

Non-lethal bear spray — carried in a cartridge resembling a small fire extinguisher — expels “a fine cloud of Capsicum derivatives to temporarily reduce a bear’s ability to breathe, see and smell”, according to the National Park Service.

That buys time for a quick escape from the agile beasts.

larger than black bears, which also roam the area, according to the park service. Grizzly males weigh between 200lbs and 700lbs (317kg), and females between 200lbs and 400lbs.

Adult grizzly bears stand about 31⁄2 ft at the shoulder, can climb trees, run up and downhill, and swim.

That’s why park regulations require that visitors to stay at least 100 yards away, unless safely tucked in a motor vehicle.

And don’t feed the bears!

While the odds of an attack are estimated at just one in 2.7 million in the Yellowstone area, a hiker can never be too careful.

On April 7, a teenage boy survived a bear attack near Ennis, Montana, located northwest of the park. The boy managed to spray and repel the animal, most likely a grizzly, after it shoved him against a tree, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks said in a press release. — Bloomberg