Province to ban use of bear spray in urban areas

New provincial regulations in Saskatchewan aim to restrict the possession of capsaicin-containing wildlife control products, commonly known as bear spray, in public urban spaces.

The regulations also prohibit altering or defacing bear spray to conceal its identity, with potential fines reaching up to $100,000 for violations. The move is driven by the increasing incidents of public disturbances involving bear spray. The rules specifically target urban areas, excluding rural or northern regions where bear spray is commonly used for safety.

Exceptions apply for conservation officers, hunters, and hikers needing the spray for legitimate purposes. Transportation of bear spray from a retail location to a lawful storage place is permitted, as is its use in areas like camping trips. Lower capsaicin-concentration products and retailers are exempt from the regulations. The Saskatchewan Association of Chiefs of Police supports the legislation, providing law enforcement with additional tools to combat illegal use and reduce victimization.

While acknowledging Saskatchewan as bear country, Environment Minister Christine Tell emphasized the regulations strike a balance, ensuring safety in outdoor activities while restricting bear spray from inappropriate urban use. In limited instances, individuals may carry bear spray in urban spaces if demonstrating a reasonable need for protection.

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