Getting Serious About Bear Data


Our colleagues at Sunlight have just launched a major new ursine initiative. Naturally, we want to help, so David dug into the data he’d recently scraped from the Catalog of Government Publications to see if there were any contributions we could make from a labs perspective.

The Catalog of Government Publications is a powerful bear resource. It contains no less than 77 records about bears. The most important document in that list, of course, is the Bear Spray Safety Program. Nothing drives humanity more than survival. Therefore, you must familiarize yourself with the all-important Bear Force Continuum:

The Bear Force Continuum

Unfortunately, this essential bear safety information is locked up in a 2.8 MB PDF. Bears don’t like being caged up in a PDF format. It makes them angry. Besides, it subverts the Eleven Principles of Open Bear Data, a superset of the Ten Principles of Open Data.

Bear Data Liberated

This travesty against bear data will continue no longer. As of today, I am liberating the Bear Force Continuum into various machine readable formats: JSON, CSV, and HTML. Here is the HTML markup:

Level 1 – More than 50 ft. away Level 2 – Less than 50 ft. away — noaggressive traits Level 3 – Less than 50 ft. away — aggressive traits Level 4 – Contact distance
Firearms Slowly back away / detour Less lethal / ready position On target/fire Fire
Bear spray Slowly back away / detour Spray in 1- to 2-second bursts Spray Spray
No deterrent Slowly back away / detour Slowly back away Stand ground / loud noise Black-Fight

We are all safer thanks to the Bear Force Continuum (BFC). Now, please go out and demand more bear data! If you find any, please tell us about it over on the National Data Catalog.

P.S. I find it slightly unnerving that the BFC recommends submitting to a grizzly bear if you have no deterrent and are within contact distance. Perhaps the other options would be worse? Maybe the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee can explain.