Bear Spray TrainingFirefighters, Pend Oreille County Public Works employees, Kalispel Natural Resources Department staff and a select group of Kalispel teens who will be taking an adventure to Alaska this summer participated in important training on bear awareness, use of bear spray, and suggested first aid protocols for contact with bear spray. The training sessions were conducted by a team of presenters including staff from Defenders of Wildlife, Washington Fish and Wildlife, and Pend Oreille County WSU Extension.

Pend Oreille County is home to a small but growing grizzly bear population. We also have a healthy black bear population. You’re more likely to run into a black bear than a grizzly bear in Washington, but it doesn’t hurt to be prepared for either, says Candace Bennett, a wildlife conflict specialist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife in Colville

“Bear spray is far and away the best tool you can carry out into bear country with you,” said Robb Krehbiel, the Northwest representative for Defenders of Wildlife, one of the sponsors of this workshop at South Pend Oreille Fire and Rescue's fire station at Sacheen Lake, in southern Pend Oreille County. “It’s proven to be more effective than any sort of lethal control of bears when you’re in a bear encounter situation and it keeps the bears alive,”

“It is not the usual firefighter training we are used to, commented South Pend Oreille County Fire Chief Mike Nokes, but it an important training for all firefighters and especially wildland firefighters.” Mike Jensen, WSU Extension in Pend Oreille County along with Chief Nokes and Captain Scott Doughty have developed a “Suggested First Aid Protocols for Contact with Bear Spray”. The protocols were presented to about forty local firefighters and emergency medical technicians. Their input will be utilized in the final WSU fact sheet.

The training was a mixture of presentations, bear identify quizzes, hands-on training with training canisters of bear spray, and the first aid protocols for accidental contact with bear spray. For more information about the training, you can contact Mike Jensen at the Pend Oreille County Extension office in Newport.

Because we live and work in “bear country”, taking the time to learn how to use and be safe with bear spray should be part of your safety precautions when hiking, working or otherwise recreating in the forests and mountains of Pend Oreille County.

Michael T. Jensen
Associate Professor and County Extension Director
Family and 4-H Youth Development
Washington State 4-H Camps Specialist

Pend Oreille County Extension
227 Garden Ave.
Newport WA, 99156
Phone: 509-447-6452 (Direct)
509-447-2401 (Office)


Weather-Ready Nation AmbassadorThe Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador™ initiative is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) effort to formally recognize NOAA partners who are improving the nation’s readiness, responsiveness, and overall resilience against extreme weather, water, and climate events. As a WRN Ambassador, South Pend Oreille Fire and Rescue is commited to working with NOAA and other Ambassadors to strengthen national resilience against extreme weather. In effect, the WRN Ambassador initiative helps unify the efforts across government, non-profits, academia, and private industry toward making the nation more ready, responsive, and resilient against extreme environmental hazards. Weather-Ready Nation (WRN) is a strategic outcome where society’s response should be equal to the risk from all extreme weather, water, and climate hazards.