Jack Hanna Wards Off Grizzlies with Pepper Spray

Jack Hanna on "The Early Show," explaining the use of bear spray. CBS

Animal expert Jack Hanna, director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and well known TV host, really had his skills tested during a family vacation in Montana on Saturday. Hanna came face to face with three wild grizzly bears, and lived to tell the tale on "The Early Show" Wednesday morning.

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Even as Hanna spoke with co-anchor Harry Smith from Big Forks, Mont., a black bear was roaming around nearby.

Hanna recounted that his day began around two in the afternoon, getting a late start, as his he and his wife hiked down to Grinnell Glacier.

"My wife and I were coming down, we were coming down, the last one. A young lady, 18, and her parent. They were half an hour before us. They came down the trail. I got around a corner where there was a cliff and wall, and she comes back and says, 'Oh, my gosh, there's three bears coming up the trail,'" said Hanna.

Hanna then explained that you have to give bears their space. Hanna found an opening on grassy hill within minutes of spotting the bears, and as he lined everybody against a wall, he told them to clap and make noise like they were told to do in bear country. But the bears closed in regardless.

"(The bears) about 25, 30 feet away now. I see it's a male trying to show his oomph," recalled Hanna. He then demonstrated the way to properly use a can of bear spray, or pepper spray.

"You wear (pepper spray) this on your chest, with your backpack, so I pulled (the safety clip) off. I already had it off. You throw this down, take the safety clip, go like that. I pointed it at the bear. I didn't want the bear to start making problems or the mother would come back," said Hanna.

Hanna explained the pepper spray is something every hiker should carry. He advises against carrying weapons because those could end up doing more harm than good. But a can of pepper spray works, does not harm people, and doesn't do any serious harm to the bears either.

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