Bob Haase’s Another Can Of Worms


Bear Pepper Mace

I just read an article on Bear Spray in the current issue of Wisconsin Outdoor News.  For those that don’t know what Bear Spray is, it is similar to the pepper spray that some women may carry in their purse for protection.  The difference is the size of the canister and the potency of the ingredients which is mostly oleoresin of capsicum.  Most research on bear attack suggests that Bear Spray is more effective than guns in protecting a person in case of a bear attack.


I am writing about this for a couple of reasons.  The first reason is that I carry Bear Spray for protection when trout fishing out west and even though I have a concealed carry permit and own handguns, I prefer Bear Spray for protection in our home or car over a gun.  The second reason is that Wisconsin does not allow the sale or possession of full strength Bear Spray like most other states.  I knew when I purchased this Bear Spray that it was not full strength, but I did not realize until reading this article that it may not be nearly as effective in a bear attack and may not even be worth carrying.


Dean Bortz, editor of Wisconsin Outdoor News, contacted Tom Van Haren, DNR administrative warden to find out if Bear Spray was even allowed for sure in Wisconsin.  The answer was dependent on the amount of oleoresin capsicum and the distance it could spray.  The Bear Spray sold in Wisconsin may not be very effective in a bear attack.  I can purchase the stronger Bear Spray out west, but there is differing views as to the legality of bringing it back into the state of Wisconsin.


The article also explained that the DNR does not have any rules or regulations regarding bear spray and that it is controlled by the Department of Justice and the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection.  It is legal to sell, buy, and possess smaller containers of pepper spray, but Bear Spray would be considered a pesticide and regulated by DATCAP.


Van Haren said that there is currently a bill (AB119) in our Legislature that would prohibit the DOJ from creating rules that regulate the use of oleoresin capsicum containers or devices. The bill passed the Assembly and is in the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor.  I have not read the bill yet, but plan to do so, because it could limit the possession and use of Bear Spray or other pepper spray currently carried by others for protection. 


Maybe this needs to be included under the concealed carry laws of Wisconsin so that people could choose whether they want to carry pepper spray or a gun for protection. 


Some rules and regulations are hard to understand.  Last week my air conditioner stopped working in my vehicle.  I could not find an automotive service center in northern Wisconsin that was licensed to legally add refrigerant to my air conditioning unit, but I could go to any store and put it in myself.  It seems funny that a mechanic that is used to working on cars cannot do the repairs and install the refrigerant without special training, certification, and licensing but anyone else can purchase the refrigerant and put it in themselves, even if they don’t know what they are doing.


Bob Haase is the host of “Outdoors Thursday” heard Thursday mornings at 9:10 a.m. on News-Talk 1450 KFIZ.