City of Vancouver to consider banning or restricting bear bangers

Jun 10 2020, 9:33 pm

After a growing number of complaints from residents, the City of Vancouver will be looking into possibly banning or restricting the sale of bear bangers.

Last month, many Vancouverites took to social media to report what they described as an increase in the number of bear bangers being set off in the city — particularly around the Downtown Eastside and nearby neighbourhoods.

A bear banger is a type of explosive that is fired from a hand-held cylinder and designed to make a loud gunshot noise. It’s typically used while in the backcountry to scare away wildlife such as bears or cougars.

Sergeant Aaron Roed, a spokesperson for the Vancouver Police Department, tells Daily Hive that the explosives continue to be a routine issue. The issue was brought up with City Council alongside an upcoming fireworks ban.

“We’ve received many complaints about this,” said Councillor Melissa De Genova, who adds that they affect both people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and young children. “They’re sent to all of council.”

Councillor Pete Fry, who agrees that they’re an ongoing issue for residents in the downtown core, points out that a ban could be an impediment for anyone looking to safely take advantage of Vancouver’s backcountry.

“The intended use for bear bangers is a safety concern for folks going into the backcountry,” said Fry. “We do live on the edge of a rainforest; we do live in close proximity to bears.”

He suggested taking a “more thoughtful approach,” pointing out that Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) requires that anyone who purchases a bear banger or bear spray register in advance. MEC also provides a 30-minute instruction session for anyone who wishes to purchase either item.

City Manager Sadhu Johnston said that staff are in the midst of reviewing the issue and that various options, including a potential registration program, are being looked into.

Councillor Rebecca Bligh pointed out, however, that bear bangers and similar items can be purchased online from retailers such as Amazon and says that attempting to restrict sales could place “necessary layers of licensing” on businesses.

City staff are expected to return to the council with recommendations as soon as possible.

With files from Eric Zimmer…

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