Is a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service "fact sheet" on Bear Spray vs. Bullets: Which Offers Better Protection, Fact Sheet #8, a scientific hoax?
Bear Spray vs. Bullets claims that based on "investigations of human-bear encounters since 1992" by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service law enforcement agents, "persons encountering grizzlies and defending themselves with firearms suffer injury about 50% of the time. During the same period, persons defending themselves with pepper spray escaped injury most of the time, and those that were injured experienced shorter duration attacks and less severe injuries. Canadian bear biologist Dr. Stephen Herrero reached similar conclusions based on his own research -- a person’s chance of incurring serious injury from a charging grizzly doubles when bullets are fired versus when bear spray is used."
How many human-bear encounters involved people using bear spray, and how many encounters involved people using firearms? No information is provided in Bear Spray vs. Bullets.
Did any hunters who got charged by a grizzly while pursuing big game with a rifle use bear spray to defend themselves rather than their firearm? No information is provided in Bear Spray vs. Bullets.
In 2012, Stephen Herrero co-authored a study on the Efficacy of Firearms for Bear Deterrence in Alaska that said Bear Spray vs. Bullets provided "no data or references."
Is a "fact sheet" with no data or references a scientific hoax?
The time frame covered in Bear Spray vs. Bullets was 1992 to . . . when? No information is provided in Bear Spray vs. Bullets. Is a fact sheet that discusses an unknown number of human-bear encounters that occurred between 1992 and, whenever, a scientific hoax?
Efficacy of Firearms for Bear Deterrence in Alaska lists the publication date for Bear Spray vs. Bullets as 2002, however, an article published in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle on October 4, 2000 said the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service "this week issued 18 pages of fact sheets detailing how to live, recreate, and hunt in grizzly country." (Bears and hunters: Pepper spray beats guns hands down, by Scott McMillion).
The author of Bear Spray vs. Bullets . . . is not named. However, during an April 17, 2008 interview with Steve Sergeant on the WildeBeat, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Grizzly Bear Recovery Coordinator Chris Servheen acknowledged that he wrote Bear Spray vs. Bullets. (The WildeBeat edition 134, Grizzlies in the Mist).
What about Chris Servheen's claim that Stephen Herrero's research found that people who used bear spray fared better than people who used firearms? Stephen Herrero's research on Field Use of Capsicum Spray for Bear Deterrence (Herrero and Higgins 1998) did not include any data on firearms. Stephen Herrero was a co-author for Efficacy of Firearms for Bear Deterrence in Alaska, which said, "a study of bear-human conflicts involving firearms has not been conducted." The Literature Cited for Efficacy of Firearms for Bear Deterrence in Alaska did not include a study on bear-human conflicts involving firearms by Stephen Herrero. It appears that Efficacy of Firearms for Bear Deterrence in Alaska (2012) is the only research Stephen Herrero ever published on firearms vs. bears. Thus, the claim Chris Servheen made in 2000 about Stephen Herrero's "research" on firearms is a complete fabrication.
Is it a scientific hoax when the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service grizzly bear recovery coordinator cites a fictitious research paper to help prove bear spray is more effective than a firearm?
In the Wildebeat interview, Servheen says "almost all the information" in Bear Spray vs. Bullets is "based on the work of other people." It's frightening to know that, based on the work of other people, Servheen is in the process of writing the scientific justification for removing Endangered Species Act protections for grizzlies in the Yellowstone region and the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem. Can he be trusted? Servheen's integrity and honesty is the key to the delisting process.
Chris Servheen's unsubstantiated claim about a firearms failure rate of roughly 50% is remarkable compared to the firearms failure rate documented in Characteristics of Nonsport Mortalities to Brown and Black Bears and Human Injuries From Bears in Alaska (Miller and Tutterrow 1999). Miller and Tutterrow showed that from 1970-1996, people killed 2,289 brown and black bears in defense of life or property, and that most people "indicated that no human injury occurred (98.5% for brown bears and 99.2% for black bears)."
In Field Use of Capsicum Spray as a Bear Deterrent, Herrero found that in 62% (8 of 13) of incidents when people delivered a substantial dose of spray to a curious black bear or a black bear searching for people's food or garbage, the bear "either did not leave the area or it left and returned." In 75% (3 of 4) of cases when black bears acted aggressively, bears did not leave the area after being sprayed. People either shot the bear, shot at it, or moved away and escaped. Overall, 4.5% (3 of 66) of people who used bear spray were injured.
Chris Servheen concludes Bear Spray vs. Bullets by stating the "proper use of bear spray has proven to be the best method for fending off threatening and attacking bears."
Is that a fact, or a scientific hoax?