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Bear spray proving popular among violent criminals

The use of bear spray as the new weapon of choice for some violent criminals is very disturbing, Langley RCMP say.

They have issued a warning about the sale of bear spray.

Bear spray is legal in Canada for use only against attacking bears and is regulated by Health Canada and the Pest Control Products Act.  It is a pressurized propellant, designed as a last-resort defense against attacking bears.

“Spraying people with bear spray is strictly prohibited,” said Cpl. Holly Marks, who speaks for Langley RCMP.

The Criminal Code of Canada makes it illegal to sell, advertise or carry any product designed for personal protection against a human attack, she added.

The Pest Controls Products Act allows the sale of bear spray in Canada only by authorized vendors who maintain proper sales records.

“These vendors must gather certain information including the purchaser’s name and address, the amount purchased and a signed Notice to Purchaser Agreement. This agreement outlines the legal uses of bear spray and contains a liability warning.  It is also important to note that it is illegal to sell bear spray to anyone under the age of 18 or to anyone not willing to sign the agreement.

“Parents who notice their children under the age of 18 have acquired bear spray are encouraged to confiscate the product and discuss the legal ramifications of having the illegal substance on their person if stopped by police,” Marks said.

An individual convicted of violating the provincial Integrated Pest Management Act  is liable to a fine of not more than $200,000 or imprisonment for six months, or both.

Police are asking businesses to review the conditions of sale and ensure that they are adhering to the legislation relative to the age of the purchaser and the administrative requirements.

A corporation convicted of an offence under the provincial legislation can be fined up to $400,000 for a first offence.

Marks noted that bears are rarely seen in the urban areas of Langley “so it is unlikely that anyone should need to carry bear spray on their person or in their vehicle.

“Residents who do possess bear spray for their forays into the wilderness, should keep it secured in a safe place at home until needed.”

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