Phasmid was featured in the online efforts of Conserve Montana, a non-profit seeking to ‘Conserve Montana’- in association with the Cinnabar Foundation and Keystone Conservation. The original article can be found here: Conserve Montana Bear Responsible.

BEAResponsible: Introducing Rentable Bear Spray
Legacies and Projects : New Projects and Visions

Author: Lisa Upson
Project Summary

As a business owner serving large numbers of tourists every year who are eager to head into the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem’s backcountry, Will Casella of Phasmid Rentals recognized a problem and came up with an obvious solution to help his customers stay safe in bear country. At $40 to $50 a can, cost is a major barrier to people considering purchasing bear spray. The fact that bear spray is not permitted on airplanes adds to the reluctance of many visitors to purchase the costly item. But now they have the option to rent bear spray from Casella’s business, located conveniently near the Bozeman Yellowstone airport. Phasmid rents everything from cars to tents to fishing poles, and Casella thought it was only fitting that he should rent bear spray when sending visitors into the backcountry.

Lisa and Tim demonstrate proper deployment of bear spray.

A bear spray rental program will help protect bears in the Greater Yellowstone Region
Making bear spray more affordable and accessible to backcountry users allows people to safely enjoy the backcountry

This is great news for both backcountry users and bears, and this summer Keystone Conservation is launching a program to expand this service to many more businesses.
A Legacy for Tomorrow

This program is part of our longstanding BEAResponsible initiative that seeks to minimize grizzly-human conflicts, improve grizzly travel corridor security, reduce grizzly and human mortality, and encourage individual and community responsibility in finding ways to coexist safely alongside wild bears.

Bear encounter statistics show bear spray is essential safety equipment

Grizzly bears have it tough these days. Some of their most reliable food sources are dwindling because of climate change, while at the same time there are more people recreating in the bears’ core habitat. And despite decades of public outreach from wildlife agencies and wildlife advocacy groups about safety in bear country, people continue to go into the backcountry without bear spray.

In 2010, there were 295 human-grizzly bear conflicts in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem resulting in mortality of an estimated 75 animals – a record high. There were also eight human injuries or fatalities reported.

University of Calgary bear researcher, Steve Herrera, informed attendees at the 2012 International Human-Bear Conflict Workshop in Missoula that in a study of 269 incidents with 444 hunters, 98 percent of those who used bear spray walked away unharmed, and no people or bears died. Fifty-six percent of those who used firearms were injured, and 61 percent of the bears involved died. Further, a survey by federal bear managers completed in 2011 indicates 56% of people who were charged by bears in Yellowstone and Glacier were not carrying bear spray.

Launching the bear spray rental program

Keystone Conservation aims to improve these statistics by starting a bear spray rental program through business partnerships throughout the Yellowstone region. We want to give recreationists an inexpensive, convenient alternative to purchasing bear spray.

Building on our partnership with Casella’s business, Keystone will reach out to Yellowstone area retailers and encourage them to participate in the program. By this summer, we hope to have retail partners in Bozeman, Livingston, Big Timber, Red Lodge, Gardiner, Big Sky, West Yellowstone, Cooke City, Silvergate, and Ennis, Montana, and in Island Park, Idaho.

How the program will work

Here’s how it will work. Visitors and backcountry users will be able to rent a can of bear spray, for a day, a weekend, or a week for a reasonable price. The cans will be weighed at the time of rental and again when they are returned to determine whether the can was sprayed or not. Visitors may be required to pay a restocking fee if they use the bear spray (to be determined by outfitter).

We will also promote the bear spray rental program to visitors and recreationists by providing marketing materials to lodges, hotels, and outfitters; through our popular community education programs at the Bozeman REI store; and by using our own website and social media. We welcome the help of the many other groups and agencies in our region that care about the welfare of bears and human safety and who want to promote the bear spray rental program – maybe as easily as sharing a link.

Partners

Phasmid Rentals, Will Casella. http://phasmidrentals.com, Belgrade, MT

Redeem Sumicad’s businesses are: Teton Adventure Gear – www.tetonadventuregear.com, Cody and Jackson, WY

Bear safety presentations: REI Store – http://www.rei.com/stores/136, Bozeman, MT

Keep an eye on this site. We will list new partners here as they come on board.

Take Action: Get Involved

Heading to the backcountry? Take a can!

As with all our projects and programs, our members are a large part of its success. Contributions from donors will help fund this project and make it a reality.

Donate on our website: www.keystoneconservation.us.