Discarded bear spray creates environmental hazards in landfills from heavy metals, harsh irritants and chemical propellants. From 2008 to 2011, thanks to the efforts of the engineering program at MSU, the Gallatin National Forest, the Yellowstone Park Foundation and Mountain State Engineering of Billings came together to find a solution. The bear spray recycling machine was designed and created to safely release the harsh chemicals from the cans and then crush the aluminum for re-use. Following the recycling program’s debut, the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest quickly jumped on board by collecting and transporting expired or empty cans of bear spray to the machine located in Yellowstone National Park.
The Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest invites people to bring their used or unused bear spray cans to offices located in Butte, Deer Lodge, Dillon, Ennis, Philipsburg, Sheridan, Whitehall, Wisdom or Wise River.
Bear spray has proven to be the best defense against bears in numerous real-life encounters as well as lab testing. To properly use bear spray:
· Always carry in a readily accessible location.
· When you encounter a bear, have bear spray in your hand and ready to use.
· If the bear acts aggressively, remove the safety and spray the bear as it charges.
· Spray a one to two second burst when the bear is within 40 feet, aiming low as the spray will drift upward.
· Keep spraying in bursts if the bear continues to charge.
· Store bear spray in a cool location, never in a closed vehicle.
For more information contact the local Forest Service office in your area.