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Living with Wildlife in Manitoba

Bear Deterrents

People in bear country should be prepared to encounter a bear at any time. While following Bear Smart practices can reduce the likelihood of an encounter, carrying and knowing how to properly use bear deterrents can help prevent injury if you do encounter a bear.

How to Properly Use Bear Spray (Youtube Video)

Click here for: Instructions on using Bear Deterrent Spray


Bear Deterrent Types

The two most effective deterrents are bear deterrent sprays and noisemakers. Carry both when in bear country.

When I see a bear, should I use a noisemaker or bear deterrent spray?
  • Noisemakers are best used to deter a bear that is at a distance – a bear that sees you and continues to approach or one that's heading to your camp or settlement.
  • Before using noisemakers, be sure to assess the situation. Make sure the surroundings are clear of people and the bear has an obvious way out or to leave the area. A bear that's been startled by a noisemaker may not be able to avoid groups of people as it flees the area.
  • Remember, the noisemaker may not immediately deter the bear, especially if the bear has had previously experience with noise deterrents. Also, noisemakers may not prevent the bear from returning to the area.
  • Bear deterrent spray is best used when you need to deter a bear at close range (see below).

Bear deterrent spray

Under the Criminal Code, bear deterrent sprays that use the natural ingredient Capsaicsin (a derivative of cayenne pepper) are prohibited weapons unless used for the purposes for which they are manufactured. For example, hunters, fishers and hikers may carry bear deterrent spray if they can reasonably show that its purpose is to protect them against an animal attack. Bear deterrent spray canisters will clearly state that it is meant to be a bear deterrent.

Bear deterrent spray should never be a substitute for practising bear awareness and safety.

Click to expand:
  • Does bear deterrent spray work?
  • Buying bear deterrent spray
  • Practicing to use bear deterrent spray
  • Storing bear deterrent spray
  • Carrying bear deterrent spray
  • Using bear deterrent spray
  • First aid treatment for bear deterrent spray


The most effective noisemakers in bear country are the people working and recreating there. Talking or singing loudly can help prevent surprise encounters with wildlife. With enough warning of your approach, wildlife should have time to move themselves and their young from the area.

Types of Noisemakers
  • Bells known as "bear bells" are NOT RECOMMENDED but consider using the following:
  • Air horns: Easily carried in bear country; create a loud, piercing sound of greater than 120 decibels.
  • Bangers: Available for pen-launchers, .22 caliber launchers, and 12 gauge launchers. Creates a loud bang after travelling 20 to 100 metres (66 to 328 feet).
  • Screamers: Similar to bangers except they create a loud, continuous screeching noise for approximately 100 metres (328 feet). The flight pattern is erratic. Because these projectiles can be unpredictable, be extremely cautious when using them as they may cause a fire.
  • Rattlers: Commercial product comprised of several metal discs attached to a handle. It makes a loud clanking sound by holding the handle and shaking the device up and down rapidly.
Using Noisemakers
  • Use noisemakers to scare away bears that are aware of your presence but do not leave the area.
  • Do not use bangers or screamers in dry forest conditions. They may cause a fire.
  • Do not shoot the noise deterrents directly at the bear.
  • Ensure bangers explode between you and the bear. A banger that explodes behind the bear may startle it so that the bear runs back in your direction.
  • Be prepared to defend yourself with bear deterrent spray in case the noisemaker is ineffective.
  • Ensure you are not using bangers or screamers that are old, or that have been wet or altered in any way. They may prematurely explode cause injury or they may not function at all
Noisemaker Safety
  • Noisemakers that fire a projectile (bangers or screamers) should be stored and carried unloaded.
  • Always be aware of the line of fire.
  • Be aware of the potential for a ricochet.
  • To avoid personal injury or death, never point or fire a noisemaker projectile at a person.
  • Ensure you are not using bangers or screamers that are old, or that have been wet or altered in any way. They may prematurely explode and cause injury.