Province bans bear spray in urban settings due to public disturbances

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The Government of Saskatchewan released new bear spray regulations on Tuesday, preventing people having wildlife control products, including bear spray, in public urban spaces.

The new regulations will also forbid altering or tampering with the appearance of bear spray in order to disguise it as something else. People charged under these new rules could face up to a possible $100,000 fine.

“Over the last few years, there have been thousands of public disturbances involving bear spray across the province,” Justice Minister and Attorney General Bronwyn Eyre says in a press release. “These new regulations will improve public safety and provide police and wildlife officers with more options to seize and charge people in possession of bear spray, including in shopping malls, movie theatres, urban parks and on exhibition grounds.”

According to the Saskatchewan Government, the regulations will apply only to urban areas. In the north and in more rural communities, bear spray and other wildlife control products may be needed for safety.

The new rules won’t apply to people that need wildlife protection during their job such as conservation officers, hikers, and hunters, people who are permitted to transport bear spray to a place were it can be properly stored, lower capsaicin-concentration products such as ‘dog spray’, and retailers.

Under certain, appropriate circumstances, a person can also be allowed to carry bear spray in an urban area if the person can show a reasonable explanation for carrying it for protection, such as if a bear was sighted near the community.

“Saskatchewan is bear country,” Environment Minister Christine Tell says. “The new regulations recognize this and make sure that bear spray remains available to help keep people safe as they work and play in the outdoors, while helping to keep it out of urban areas where it doesn’t belong.”

Saskatchewan Association of Chiefs of Police (SACP) President Richard Lowen welcomed the news. Lowen said the SACP supports any legislation that curbs the use of bear spray for purposes other than its intended use.

“We have seen far too many instances where capsaicin products (bear spray) have been used to commit offences, such as robberies, and this new legislation will provide police an additional

tool to help reduce victimization,” he said.