13 forum posts
I agree with Alicia: no one who has an already-formed opinion is going to change their mind as a result of an internet discussion.
If anyone is genuinely uncertain about carrying a gun in a particular area, however, the rationalist approach would be to Google accident and wildlife incident reports for that area. Then decide whether a firearm would have been of any use in preventing those kinds of problems.
I did that for Oregon.
There are no reported fatalities due to bear or cougar attack in Oregon.
I found three records of non-fatal bear attacks in 2008 and 2009:
1. A woman was clawed when she tried to chase a bear away from sunflower seeds she had stored on her porch.
2. A wildlife handler was mauled while feeding a caged black bear at Wildlife Safari near Winston, Oregon.
3. Hunters wounded a bear in the shoulder with a .338 but could not track it; when one of their party later stumbled on it the bear attacked.
None of these were unprovoked attacks on back-country travelers.
The cougar information I found specifically for Oregon did not list any attacks; the incidents quoted were all of cougars watching people or of people seeing cougars.
Documented back-country fatalities in Oregon came from:
* Exposure after becoming lost
* Falls while mountaineering
* Hunting accidents
* Heat stroke
* Being caught in an avalanche
Hazards which might be considered, as there have historically been deaths in Oregon from them:
* Being struck by lightning
* Bee stings (a person dies in Oregon from bee sting roughly every other year)
* Rattlesnake bite (about 50 people per year are bitten by rattlesnakes; fatalities, however are considered "rare")
Highway fatalities run from 400 to 700 per year. Workplace fatalities are around 30 to 50 per year. Violent deaths in 2007 were 789, with 592 of those being suicides. (We are a gloomy people, and the rain soaks into our brains...)
The vast majority of injuries and deaths in Oregon occur on the roads, in the workplace, and in cities. In the Oregon back-country bees are more likely to kill you than bears, and you have a greater chance of being struck by lightning than of being killed by a cougar. Certainly you can get hurt or die in the Oregon wilderness. But with respect to the actual dangers -- being lost, getting caught in an avalanche or falling off a cliff, succumbing to heat stroke -- a gun is nothing but dead weight.
I don't carry a gun in the Oregon wilderness. I see no rational reason to start.
A similar accident / wildlife incident analysis for British Columbia would very likely reveal a much different picture. If an analysis suggests bears may be a real-world danger in a particular location, then the traveler should probably take an equally rational look at what measures have succeeded and what measures have failed to protect against bears in that environment.
But nobody who already wants to pack a gun is going to be dissuaded, and no one who is already anti-gun is going to be persuaded to start carrying. Alicia is right: this topic is mostly for airing pre-formed opinions. Nobody reading it is likely to change their mind.