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Idaho Fish & Game has 180 cans of bear spray and they’re giving them away for free this Saturday

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Bear spray photo, left, provided by Becky Lewis. | Grizzly file photo, EastIdahoNews.com

IDAHO FALLS – The Idaho Department of Fish and Game wants to make sure you’re safe and prepared for the upcoming hunting season and that’s why they’re giving away free cans of bear spray.

The IDFG Bear Education trailer will be at Henrys Fork Foundation in Ashton this Saturday giving away 180 cans of bear spray and providing educational material about bear safety.

“If (people) come and show us their valid hunting or fishing license and a photo ID, then we give them a free can of bear spray. At the same time, we try and educate them further about recreating in bear country,” project manager Becky Lewis tells EastIdahoNews.com.

The giveaway is funded through a grant program that incentivizes agencies like IDFG to implement projects that enhance wildlife habitat. Knowing that grizzly bear populations are on the rise in eastern Idaho, Lewis says they wanted to get bear spray into the hands of hunters and anglers who recreate in grizzly bear habitat.

“I just saw an opportunity and thought maybe they would approve bear spray. Fish and Game is all about hunters and fishermen and they want to keep people and the animals safe. So they thought this was a good idea and we wrote a grant,” Lewis says.

The grant was approved and they used it to purchase 580 cans of bear spray. They divided those up and decided to host giveaways near grizzly habitats in eastern Idaho.

Bear spray giveaway event in Driggs several weeks ago. | Courtesy Becky Lewis

Saturday’s event will be the third giveaway IDFG has hosted this summer. Last month, they hosted one in Island Park. Earlier this month, they were in Driggs. Lewis says the turnout has been huge.

“When we did this in Island Park, we took up 216 cans of bear spray and we were planning to be there for four hours. We were out within an hour and 40 minutes,” Lewis says.

The Driggs giveaway was slower, but there were only three cans left when it was over. It’s hard to say how long the giveaway in Ashton will last, but Lewis says it’s only while supplies last.

“If we don’t have that many people in Ashton and we have more cans, we will have another event because the idea is to get these cans into the hands of hunters or fisherman before hunting season,” Lewis says.

The hunting season begins in October for most game animals.

Aside from the giveaway, Lewis is encouraging people to swing by to learn more about bear safety.

“To recreate safely in bear country, you should travel in groups. You should make noise. Hunters don’t do that. They need to do that to be successful, but that attracts bears,” Lewis says. “If they have a surprise encounter with a bear, we want them to have a non-lethal method of protecting themselves.”

The bear spray giveaway in Ashton is happening from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 801 Main Street. Lewis is encouraging you to show up early to improve your chances of getting a can.

“I hope people show up and that we run out of cans,” says Lewis. “It’s been a great thing. People have been super excited about this. I hope we have a good turnout and I’m really excited about the opportunity to help people recreate safely.”

The Henrys’ Fork Foundation will also be offering tours of the building and provide a virtual float down the river in a virtual reality drift boat experience.

Learn more about the event in our community calendar.

IDFG Bear Education Trailer | Becky Lewis

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