This week a prominent manufacturer of self-defense pepper spray and bear spray, Security Equipment Corporation, decided to venture into the field of bear bells. The constant jingle of these bells put some at ease, secure in the knowledge that bears—or any other wildlife—could hear the wearer long before they come into range. The most dangerous encounter with any species of bear is one that takes the animal by surprise. This is why experts often advise talking in a loud, but calm manner when a bear is sighted. However, do bear bells really work?
According to Helen Nienhueser, co-author of Fifty-five Ways to the Wilderness in Southcentral Alaska, bells can more than justify their low price tag. She told the the Anchorage Daily News that she began wearing bells more often after a bear attack left two people dead near her cabin bordering Denali State Park several years ago. Jim Holmes, a public information representative for the Alaska Department of Game and Fish, also advises visitors to wear bells for their own protection.