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Old 04-02-2014, 12:22 PM   #1
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Pepper Spray in Canada?

Ever since I told my wife about the following rule at the Lake Louise campground, in Banff, she has been a bit concerned about the Bears: "All soft-sided camping units must stay within an enclosed electric fence in the Lake Louise Tent campground due to seasonal bear activity. Soft-sided refers to all tents and any vans, campers or trailers that have soft-sided pop-outs."

Here in Florida we're used to bears that are the size of large dogs, not the monsters you have up there. I didn't plan on taking any firearms into Canada, but thought that once there, I could pop into a Walmart and buy some pepper spray. Then I saw the following rule concerning pepper spray: "Pepper spray designed to be used against people are considered as a prohibited weapon in Canada. The definition under regulation states "any device designed to be used for the purpose of injuring, immobilizing or otherwise incapacitating any person by the discharge therefrom of (a) tear gas, Mace or other gas, or (b) any liquid, spray, powder or other substance that is capable of injuring, immobilizing or otherwise incapacitating any person" is a prohibited weapon.[41]
....Any similar canister with the labels reading "dog spray" and/or "bear spray" is regulated under the Pest Control Products Act - while legal to be carried by anyone, it is against the law if its use causes 'a risk of imminent death or serious bodily harm to another person' or harming the environment and carries a penalty up to a fine of $500,000 and jail time of maximum 3 years.[42] Carrying bear spray in public, without justification, may also lead to Criminal Code of Canada charges."


So, what's the deal with pepper spray? Is it legal to carry while hiking in Canadian parks? What makes the difference between "bear spray" and that intended for humans - just the label?
Am I better off just forgetting about it and telling my wife that bear attacks are so infrequent that there's nothing to worry about? (Probably the truth anyway.)
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Old 04-02-2014, 12:31 PM   #2
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Explain to your wife that for the bear spray to be effective you have to use it in very close quarters, and hope that the wind is at your back.
I carry a can of bear spray when river fishing. But mostly, I make noise while making my way through the bush to the river.
Oh, and don't leave it on the dashboard of your car on a hot summer day, with the windows closed. I've heard of cans exploding and blowing out the windshield.
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Old 04-02-2014, 12:57 PM   #3
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At times I walk around the block with my large can of bear spray in a holster on my hip but then I live near a salmon bearing river and bears also walk down the same streets. If I was to head off down to the shopping mall with it still on my hip I'd be in for a heap of trouble. It's all a matter if carrying it can be reasonable justified to a law enforcement officer.

I always have bear spray with me when I'm travelling. Never had to use it but it seems like cheap insurance. As for using it on local bears I'm more likely to be whacking them with my slingshot and yelling at them to go away because once they've been tagged once and returned there usually isn't a second chance.

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Old 04-02-2014, 01:02 PM   #4
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Health Canada requires a signed waiver for purchase of Bear Spray. You just do it at the time of purchase, at the store you purchase it from. It is not a big deal. Here is a sample one from MEC, where I have bought mine.
http://images.mec.ca/media/Images/pd...9831501468.pdf

For the number of campers in bear country, the actual number of attacks is very small. I have bought bear spray, but to be honest, I don't carry it with me very often at all. This fear of bears really is trumped up WAY beyond the danger it really is. Heck, you are driving, and your chance of a serious accident is MUCH higher than ever encountering a bear attack.

I have spent a few thousand nights camping in bear country, by far the majority of them in a tent, and never had an issue. Sure, I have had to chase a few away, but that is me being the aggressor, not them.

I am WAY more scared of my wife, than I am of any bear.

Bears most definitely need to be respected, but there is no need to fear them.
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Old 04-02-2014, 01:06 PM   #5
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I have bought it @ mountain equipment co op, I have never seen it @ walmart . I think in a campground the need to bear spray is pretty minimal. That said I did see a bear wandering through the campsite early one morning in Tunnel mountain in Banff. I just kept my distance and waited for it to wander on before I continued to the washroom. It stopped to check out the Garbage Dumpster and quickly moved on. I dont think you want to try and bring it across the border.
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Old 04-02-2014, 01:11 PM   #6
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Got out my can of bear spray to read the instructions. It's good for a maximum of 26 feet. Not sure you want to be that close if you have any options.
And, on the bottom of the can is an expiry sticker. Mine expired 12 / 2010.

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Old 04-02-2014, 01:13 PM   #7
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Ray, I'd wait and get it in Canada and leave it in Canada upon departing. You do not want them to go thru your unit and find anything suspicious. As far as bears in Banff, Moose are very visible and they can be your warning if there are any bears within sniffing distance. The country is so big up there that you would miss a lot hiking, but driving from Banff to Lake Louise and return is a wonder. Stop in the Hotel Banff for lunch and go to the hotel book store they have a lot of books on the canadian railroad and how it was built.
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Old 04-02-2014, 01:20 PM   #8
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For each person killed by a black bear attack there are 13 people killed by snakes, 17 by spiders, 45 by dogs, 120 by bees, 150 by tornadoes, 374 by lightning, and 60,000 by humans.

Hey. I read it on the web. But heard something similar from an expert in a radio interview.
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Old 04-02-2014, 01:33 PM   #9
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The reality with bears is don't sneak up on them and surprise them. Make lots of noise in the back country and carry bear spray for a emergency and all will be good.
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Old 04-02-2014, 01:41 PM   #10
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Last time we crossed the border into Canada we were asked about weapons and pepper spray. We told the border officer that we had bear spray and he said that that was fine as long as it was labeled that way. No one has ever asked about it coming back into the States.

On the funny side, when he asked about weapons, Mary said that she had a Swiss Army knife in her purse, he laughed and said that they weren't afraid of the Swiss, that Canada has a very powerful friend to the South to protect them from the Swiss. My reply was, yeah we get that kind of power and you get universal health care. He just grinned.
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Old 04-02-2014, 01:57 PM   #11
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You can take bear spray freely back and forth between Canada and the US, no problem. Just ge up front to the border folks and tell them you have it. Just be upfront with the border folks and tell them you have it. Please be aware there is a difference between bear spray for defense against bears and pepper spray for defense against people. The latter could get you into trouble. It is most likely cheaper to buy in the states versus here in Canada.

I agree with Baglo that if you have to use it, you are too close, so always practice bear aware. We do carry it but have never had to use it.

Regards

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Old 04-02-2014, 02:20 PM   #12
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My singing on the trails will scare away any bear!!!

We do have "bear bells" and use them when hiking in Manning... We didn't bother with anything in Yellowstone or Yosemite--mind you we aren't "miles and miles" hikers either..

Once we saw a wolverine on the trails--far enough away and we let him have his space and turned around and went the other way..
Usually I guess we are loud enough to warn them we are coming.. Although quiet enough to see the birds..
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Old 04-02-2014, 02:33 PM   #13
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Not sure if the following attribution is correct.

After a number of attacks on hikers and campers in Alaska, the Department of Fish and Game released the following advisory:

We advise that outdoorsmen wear noisy little bells on their clothing so as not to startle bears. We also advise outdoorsmen to carry pepper spray with them in case of an encounter with a bear. It is also a good idea to watch out for fresh signs of bear activity.

Outdoorsmen should recognize the difference between Black Bear and Grizzly Bear poop. Black bear poop is smaller and contains lots of berries and squirrel fur. Grizzly bear poop has little bells in it and smells like pepper.


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Old 04-02-2014, 02:45 PM   #14
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My wife and I hike a lot in BC and Alberta and each carry with us bear spray on a holster attached to our backpack hip belt. The BC Ministry of Forest staff carry bear spray when in the field. We purchase from outdoor shops including Mountain Equipment Coop and replace when they reach their expiry date. We have come across black and grizzly bears when hiking and never used the spray but glad we had it. While it is likely you will never see or come across a bear, there is a chance even on popular trails in the Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper areas you will. Alberta Parks has on-line information that should be read for anyone who visits the backcountry:Kananaskis Country - Advisories & Public Safety - Be Bear Smart
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Old 04-02-2014, 03:04 PM   #15
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Once took a guided boat ride/hiking tour from Many Glacier hotel across Swiftcurrent Lake and up through the woods to a small Glacier. Our guide advised us if when on the trail we should encounter a griz the best thing we should do is all gather tightly around him in a group hug, and make lots of noise. Glacier NP is known bear country but we never got that hug.
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Old 04-02-2014, 03:14 PM   #16
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So what is the difference between pepper spray meant for a bear and that meant for a human? If I can easily find it in Canada I think I'll buy it there, even if it does cost more. I don't want any trouble at the border. Speaking of which, (kind of), just how much more is a liter of booze in Canada than in the US? How about the beer, (for which Canada is so famous), is it priced reasonably in the great north?
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Old 04-02-2014, 03:22 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ray N View Post
So what is the difference between pepper spray meant for a bear and that meant for a human? If I can easily find it in Canada I think I'll buy it there, even if it does cost more. I don't want any trouble at the border. Speaking of which, (kind of), just how much more is a liter of booze in Canada than in the US? How about the beer, (for which Canada is so famous), is it priced reasonably in the great north?
Bring lots of booze with you. There are lots of good microbreweries across the country, and some good wines to try in BC and Ontario, but bring as much as you are allowed in the hard stuff you would like to buy. Our booze is heavily taxed.
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Old 04-02-2014, 04:12 PM   #18
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Last fall on a trip to Banff and Jasper we were interested in doing backcountry hiking. A number of the hiking trails that we wanted to hike were restricted to four or more persons walking in a tight group. Then there were a number of trails that required at least one person in the group to have a bear spray. And there were also a number of trails that were completely closed to humans because of bear activity.

Even with the restriction we were able to hike five backcountry routes. We did carry a bell fastened to our backpack, in the hopes of warning the bear. Eric, it was a Swiss bell and because of that we never saw a bear.
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Old 04-02-2014, 04:26 PM   #19
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Hi: Ray N. I don't like pepper on my bear...just some salt and horse radish on the side. Alf
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Old 04-02-2014, 04:42 PM   #20
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Ahhh, a dinner bell for the bear.
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