I still don't understand why bear spray is considered a weapon. It seems odd to me that it is considered one, and illegal.
One definition of a weapon is anything used to defend one's self; Bear spray certainly fits that description. It's basically the same as spray mace (or pepper spray) only used against bears and other animals instead of people. Bear spray is not illegal everywhere, just in particular areas. So you need to ask someone or look on-line if you were planning to bring some to a particular National or State Park. Why is it illegal? I don't know for sure, but probably someone used bear spray inappropriately, caused a huge uproar and ruined it for everyone else, so to speak.
Bear bells. I have not seen any study done on them. I have done a lot of reading of late on bear behavior and attacks. I'm pretty sure that at least 2 of the books do not mention bear bells at all (Bear Attacks; Their causes and Avoidance
by Stephen Herrero, and Hiking with Grizzlies; Lessons Learned
by Tim Rubbert). From my point of view, bear bells have a few problems. First the jingle bell ones are too high pitched to hear at any distance. If you wear a goat or sheep bell, then you might sound like a potential food source. Second, being alert is your best defense and if the bells give someone a false sense of security, the alertness may drop. Anyway, in the Sierra Nevada it really doesn't matter if you wear bear bells, except for the annoyance of those around you. I have to admit, I have not heard bear bells in quite a few years now.
I've been reading up cause I plan to visit B.C. and return to the Beartooths (and possibly the Bitterroots). Better to be prepared, I think. How does that go?...better to put yourself in the position to be lucky than to rely on luck.