Author’s note: The following is a satirical take on my personal experience surrounding bears at national parks. They are dangerous animals, and you should follow park regulations when dealing with them. Should I die in a bear mauling incident, leave this article on my gravestone as a testament to my ignorance. Also, avenge meeeee.
“Do you have bear mace?” they ask.
“No, but we have whistles,” we reply.
“Oh boy, boys. You need some bear mace. I take mine everywhere. Hiking, walking to the restroom, the mall… Everywhere!”
“Have you ever used it?”
“Oh heavens no! I’ve been coming here 28 years and never needed it, thankfully.”
“Has anyone you know used it?”
“Oh heavens no! It’s more of an insurance policy.”
This is a conversation we’ve heard over and over. Anti-bear propaganda is everywhere. Fear the bears! Bear mace, do you have bear mace? It can mace anything, really. Not just bears. Mace the bison, the goats, chipmunks… you name it you can mace it. And a bottle lasts five years! That’s only a $10-per-year insurance policy. Think of it as an investment on your life! And think of the bears you can mace.
Everyone should have bear mace. Are you a photographer with a bazooka-lens camera taking shots from distances that exceed North Korea’s ballistic range? You need bear mace. Oh heavens you’re a parent?! Bears are drawn to young children like honey-covered huckleberries. Those little kids are ripe for a bearin’. You need bear mace.
Of course, there are alternatives for you dumb shits who don’t have bear mace. Bear bells! These are jingle bells you wear around your waist to ward off women, bears, and especially women bears. Personally I’d rather get tag-teamed by Smokey and Yogi than listen to sleigh bells during the hike, but hey, they might save your life.
To put into perspective the dire threat of bear attacks, let’s take a quick look at the other dangers that lurk between the trees. Hope you have your mace ready.
The number one cause of death in national parks is drowning. You are far more likely to die under water– while trying to cross a stream or misjudging a rock leap– than from a bear attack. Nobody seems to be wearing life vests, toting rafts, or sporting inflatable arm floaties, but it couldn’t hurt to bring all of the above.
Next on the list are vehicular accidents. However, you can’t mace a vehicle. Well you can, but the effectiveness is doubtful. Judging by the ballsy passing maneuvers some frustrated drivers do to get by us, people don’t seem too concerned with careening into oncoming traffic. Still, we recommend you wear a seatbelt at all times– in and out of your vehicle.
Then of course you have trips, falls, avalanches, heat exposure, cold exposure, pre-existing conditions, and accidental firearm firings still leading bear attacks. I’m pretty sure you can’t mace any of those either, but it’d be a shame not to try.
On average, there are 4 bear attacks a year in US national parks. The number is still higher than zero, so the threat isn’t totally unrealistic. The fear, however, is very real, so you better bring your mace.
All of this advice could save your life unless, of course, you are a bear that wandered into a campground. In this case people will appear out of thin air clamoring to take a selfie with you. Bearparazzi will emerge from tents, leap from trees, and burst from manholes to get the perfect shot of you. The humans have no fear in numbers and no fear in their natural, great-smelling habitats. So be aware bears, and should you lash out in fear, somebody will surely have their mace drawn.