Did I ever tell you how I got my bear spray, or as some people call it, bear maze? Well, when I met a fellow cyclist from Switzerland, Felix Schleuniger, after Banff, who was done with his tour of the Great Continental Divide, he gave his bear spray to me because he had no more use for it. Although I didn’t really believe I would ever get into a situation to really need it, I thanked him and put it away. Some people carry it always on their handlebar in a special pouch. I’ve been reading stories about and by cyclists for so long now that I believe the bear spray industry is doing a very good PR job 😉 .
In the plains of Montana I decided once again to check on excessive weight and the spray can came to my mind. But I started to worry about how to dispose of it: Just throw it away into a trashcan? No, I couldn’t do that. What if a kid saw me or found it and attacked someone with it knowingly or unknowingly? No, that wouldn’t do! And there was another problem: was it legal to carry bear spray in states to the east of Montana? Wasn’t it categorized as a weapon? Well, I decided that the next police station would have answers for me. The first town was spared because I simply forgot about it. But the next town (I think it was Glasgow, MT) I reminded myself to check in with the police and that was a very strange experience.
A Conversation With A Police Officer Who Was Trying To Be Helpful
“Hi there, can you help me?” I asked a lady in her thirties behind the glass wall inside Glasgow police station in Montana. “Sure, Sir, what can I do for you?” she answered. “Well, I’ve got a little problem with this bear spray I’ve been carrying around with me on my bike. I’ve been cycling through the Rockies in Canada and in Montana but now I feel I don’t need it anymore.” “Why is that, sir? You can always use it,” was her answer. “No, I don’t think I’ll meet wild bears east of here, and so the can is an unnecessary weight factor for me. How can I dispose of it?” “Why, Sir, why don’t you keep it in case you’re attacked?” “Oh, you mean by the fierce dogs on the Indian reservations I’ve heard about … I’ve thought about that but I’m afraid that if I do the owner will get into his car and follow me with his shotgun,” I answered, trying still to make her see the uselessness of my “weapon”. ”Actually I meant by people …” This was getting stranger by the minute. “I don’t even know if it is legal to carry bear spray in states east of Montana,” I tried once more to get her to tell me how to dispose of a dangerous can of bear spray in a responsible way. “Oh, I believe that’s no problem,” she retorted. “Are you sure?, I asked and she shouted out loudly into the adjoining room, “Hey, Bill, is it legal to carry bear spray east of Montana?” “Sure, no problem,” came the answer. “So, you see, you can keep it,” was her pragmatic conclusion. She still didn’t see my issue. So I gave it one last try. “I will not keep it, so what do I do with it?” “Just throw it away then if you don’t want it …”
“What do you mean – throw it into a trash can?” I asked, absolutely confounded. “Sure, everyone does that.” “But, but, … “, my god, I was stuttering! “But what if a kid finds it and does something stupid with it? No, I want a responsible solution, Madame!” I knew now that from her point of view I was getting – as the Americans say – “difficult”.
“Ok, let me have it then.” Yes! That was what I had wanted. I wanted the responsibility off my neck and I wanted a safe disposal of the can!
She came out through her secure door, took my can of dangerous bear spray, went back inside and made it a point for me to see her throwing it into the waste paper basket in her office!