Heh. I grew up in Montana, and we have bears here where I live now. Also cougar. DH and I saw one last spring in fact.
Bear bells are not effective. Sorry, but it's true. A bear's hearing is only as good as a humans. Their sense of smell is the one they rely on. In fact, bear bells can act in reverse if a bear has had an aggressive encounter with a dog. A bear could give a rat's a** about a dog, trust me. If they're not in the mood for an encounter, that's different. Please, please carry bear spray. Kyleigh, the Canadian "forest service" (I know that's not what it's called) has an EXCELLENT comprehensive webpage on bear and bear encounters. They DO advise bear spray, so I'm not sure why it's illegal where you are?
I'll find the link later and post. Please please get bear spray--if the bear charges you, use it. If he's just ambling a little toward you, likely he's wanting to get a better smell. Their eyesight isn't any better than ours either, so they use their nose mostly. I would stand my ground and not move if that were the case. I've done this, although not lately.
Bear, cougar come from behind. There's not much you can do, just stand your ground with them FOR SURE. You make yourself as big as you possibly can. Cats recognize upright human posture and will back down USUALLY. Dogs, on the other hand, they view as prey. You just have to make lots of noise and try to avoid running. For sure fight back against a cougar. Bears, it's hard to say. So many different possiblitites, but bear spray is by far the most recommended and effective tool. Even my grizzled 82 year old dad, who was born and bred Montana mountain boy, takes bear spray now.