Report from the field, Montana

John taylor (my colleague from Wildlife Media) and I just returned from a short trip to Montana where we were meeting with the folks from Vital Ground about their work to create conservation easements in grizzly bear habitat. Vital Ground was born of the “movie star” Bart the Bear who appeared on the big screen alongside actors like Anthony Hopkins and Brad Pitt.

His trainers, Doug and Lynne Seus decided they wanted to give something back to the grizzly bear and decided that taking steps to protect habitat was just right. We had a great day with the board, hearing about their work in Montana, Idaho, and Alaska.

En route to Missoula we had a chance to drop in at Counter Assault, the bear pepper spray manufacturers based in Kalispell. Pride Johnson was kind enough to give us a tour of the factory where it all happens. We were very impressed with the facility and the great people who work there. Bear pepper spray is the very best line of defense against an aggressive bear.

When dispensed, the canister shoots out a cloud of pepper spray and upon contact with the bear’s nasal cavity and respiratory system creates a very uncomfortable diversion. The “heat” or “hotness” of pepper spray, and the associated peppers that the “heat ingredient” capsaicin is derived from is measured in Scoville Heat Units (SHU). A sweet bell pepper is rated at 0, while green pepper Tabasco sauce may be 600-800. Jalapeno peppers range from 2500-8000 SHU. The capsaicin used to produce bear pepper spray is rated at…..wait for it……16,000,000 SHU (yes, 16 million). So it packs quit the punch!

You can read more about Counter Assault’s products at And for more general bear safety tips see the safety page of our webpage:

Remember, the chances of being attacked by a bear are incredibly small, but it is always good to be prepared. Thank you to Counter Assault, for their support and encouragement.

Submitted by:
Chris Morgan
Director, GBOP