August 21, 2019 8:33 pm
Updated: August 22, 2019 12:39 pm

Saskatoon police say 3 bear spray calls in 1 day is part of trend

An example of bear spray, which can be purchased at an outdoor goods store.

Tyler Schroeder / Global News

On Monday, Saskatoon police responded to three calls of bear spray being used. But a spokesperson said the incidences don’t represent a surge in the use and are instead part of an ongoing pattern.

“I wouldn’t consider it a rise in pepper spray or bear spray incidences in Saskatoon,” Supt. Randy Huisman said.

“We’ve been dealing with this for about three to five years now.”

READ MORE: Saskatoon home shot twice then bear spray deployed through broken glass: police

Huisman said bear spray had become “a standard tool in the arsenal of gang members” in Saskatoon and that police had responded to its use 80 and 110 times over the previous years.

He said he believed it became popular because it is easy to use and because it can incapacitate several people at once.

WATCH: (Nov. 13, 2017) Bear spray being used as weapon of choice in recent Calgary assaults

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“Those conducting home invasions or robberies or street robberies,” he said, “are utilizing bear spray, bear spray and knives or bear spray and guns.”

He said it was part of an increase in weapons offences across the city.

In one of the uses of bear spray on Monday, a gun was fired at a house in the Westmount neighbourhood with the suspects then spraying it into the house through the bullet holes. The incident remains under investigation.

READ MORE: Regina police charge boy following alleged bear spray incident

In a statement released on Monday, police said they responded to a woman reporting that she had been sprayed with bear spray while walking home from a bus stop. The suspect or suspects attempted to steal the woman’s backpack before the victim fled.

Another statement put out on Monday said a man had been arrested after threatening to use a can of bear spray.

Police said that a 12-year-old boy was arrested on Tuesday after using bear spray on three or four people.

Huisman said that people found with bear spray can face charges of possession of a weapon. He said the use of bear spray warrants an assault with a weapon charge.

Health Canada restricts the sale of bear spray.

READ MORE: Regina man bear sprayed in random attack Friday evening

Would-be buyers must show a government photo ID, be 18 years of age and have their personal information kept on file at the store. They must also sign a waiver stating that they will only use the product as a deterrent for bears and dogs.

At Cabela’s, the canisters are kept behind the sales counter in the firearms department and must be handed to a customer by a store employee.

Wayne Yakielashek, the general manager of Cabela’s, said that a sale will be cancelled if a customer makes any comment otherwise.

“Just like when you’re in the airport and you say ‘I have a bomb, you can’t take it back and say ‘I’m just kidding,’” he said.

Huisman said bear spray was coming from sporting goods stores but didn’t elaborate as to which stores or the effectiveness of the screening process.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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