The provincial government announced new regulations on bear spray, and other capsaicin-containing wildlife control products, Tuesday. The regulations will restrict the possession of bear spray in public urban spaces throughout the province. 

“Over the past few years, there have been thousands of bear spray incidents, 3000 over the last five years alone, across this province, including on the first day, last June, that the new Wascana pool opened here in Regina, and at outdoor summer exhibitions, including in Regina, Prince Albert and Saskatoon,” said Bronwyn Eyre, the provincial Minister of Justice, in the Legislature. 

The news also came after bear spray was allegedly used during a home invasion in Weyburn on the weekend.  

“Bear spray is currently far too easy to get hold of,” Eyre continued. Incidents that involve it lead to injuries, and disrupt the day-to-day operations of businesses, public events and facilities across our province.” 

In addition to the restrictions on the possession of bear spray in public urban spaces, the regulations will also prohibit the defacing or altering of bear spray in order to hide or disguise it. The penalties in the regulations are also very steep, with potential fines going up to $100,000.  

“These provincial regulations will apply only in public urban areas because there aren’t a lot of bears wandering around downtown Regina or Saskatoon,” Eyre added. “They will not apply in rural or northern areas where bear spray is typically used for safety purposes.” The regulations will also not apply to conservation officers, hunters, hikers, and others who would need bear spray for protection in the course of employment or recreational activities.  

The regulations will not apply to retailers, and won’t require retailers to keep records of who purchases bear spray. 

The move was welcomed by the opposition NDP in the Legislature.  

“This is a concern that I’ve also received in my office regarding the rising use of bear spray in public urban settings, Mr. Speaker, and the concern about the effect this has on public safety in particular,” said Regina-Douglas Park MLA Nicole Saurer. She added that while the NDP does welcome the announcement, generally speaking, they would like to see the government provide further funding for ways communities can address the root cause of the use of weapons such as bear spray in urban settings, including the rise of gangs and gang violence.