Honestly..and I know this is a hot button topic, than many here may or may not agree with..but If I ride anywhere but here in Florida, by myself, during either the mornings or late afternoon...I'm armed.
Its not for people, I encounter
Would a small hand gun kill something like a bear?..not likely but the noise will likely scare it off..not to mention the harsh stinging sensation the bullet causes will give it something to think about too.
I understand if your ambushed theres no way to get to it, before its too late..but people aren't always ambushed..sometimes the bear wants you to see it coming..and in those instances I'd feel alittle safer.
I also heard of a story about someone getting killed by a mountain lion out in Colorado..and another rider found the deceased mans bike, and while investigating it, the lion came back to claim its kill, and mauled the rider who came to investigate..We're in their territory. Nature didn't design us to be predators..we are frail, weak and fragile compared to other better equipped beasts..I'm glad Florida doesn't have predators that are in a position to hunt people. Living in and around the Morris Bridge forest area for most of my life, I have seen a Florida Black bear..from a far distance and it still immediately ran for cover. I've never laid eyes on a Florida panther in the wild, but I have seen their tracks, So they are out there..and if your riding along and feel like your being watched..(which is one of those few animalistic instincts we humans still possess.) it might be wise to slow up and take a real good look around you..especially around spring time.
all that said..my prayers are with the girl and her family.