Bear Spray requirement at 2017 Alberta Champs
lere is some more information that we hope will be useful for you.
Background: The events will take place in Alberta's Bow Valley corridor in the Canadian Rockies. This is an area known for its beauty and wildlife, but it is also experiencing rapid change in the natural landscape as a result of human settlement and large increases in human use. This has increased the possibility of encounters with large wild animals such as bears. Event organizers have been working with Alberta Parks ecologists to minimise negative encounters during our events. Research shows that one of the most effective strategies for avoiding a negative encounter with the larger wildlife, especially bears, is carrying bear spray and knowing how to use it. Alberta Parks requires all adult participants at the 2017 AOC's events to carry bear spray. This has been their policy for all non-winter events at the Canmore Nordic Centre since spring of 2014.
As a participant 18 years of age or older, you will be required to carry bear spray while you are on your course, despite the small likelihood of an encounter with a large animal. You will not be permitted to start your race without your canister of bear spray. You will be disqualified without it.
If you are younger than 18 years old, you will not be required to carry bear spray unless you choose to and if your parent or guardian agrees. Alternate measures will be taken at the event to ensure your safety on the course. This includes:
It is very important that you know how to use bear spray. Information about how to use bear spray can be found online at this Parks Canada website http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/mtn/ours-bears/securite-safety/gaz-spray.aspx. You are expected to watch this 2-minute video).
How to carry bear spray during your race: We recommend two options:
How to transport bear spray in your vehicle: In hot weather, avoid leaving a canister of bear spray in your car. Do not store or transport a canister of bear spray in a passenger compartment. If you do have to carry it in a passenger compartment, then store it in many layers of plastic bags/Ziploc bags or in a closed container. The Zodiak Bear Spray safety travel container is a decent option.
Bear Spray Purchase: Bear spray canisters and carriers can be purchased at most outdoor stores, including Trail Sports at the Canmore Nordic Centre.
Bear Spray Rentals: a limited number of bear spray rentals (scatBelt & bear spray canister combo) are available through Trail Sports (at the Canmore Nordic Centre). These must be booked directly from Trail Sports.
Bear Awareness/Bear Spray Demonstration: The organizers of the 2017 AOC's have organized 3 Bear Awareness/Bear Spray Demonstrations provided by experts in the field. It is strongly recommended that all participants attend this session before going out on any courses! Demonstrations will be 15-20 min. in length. **It is each participant's responsibility to know how to use bear spray. In signing the waiver for this event, you are acknowledging that you know how to use bear spray and/or you will attend/participate in the information sessions arranged by the event organizers, which include, watching the bear spray on-line video and attending a bear spray demo before going out on your first course.)
Schedule of Bear Awareness/Spray Demonstrations:
Sat. Sept. 16-9:15 am -at the "Arena" area of the Middle Distance Event (Quarry Lake Map)
Sat. Sept. 16-9:45 am -at the "Arena" area of the Middle Distance Event (Quarry Lake Map)
Sun. Sept. 17-9:15 am-at the "Arena" area of the Long Distance Event (Canmore Nordic Centre)
*Note that "Donations" for attending this demonstration are Strongly Recommended and all donations collected will be given to "Wildsmart". Donations can be left at Registration, or at the demonstration itself where there will be a donation "bucket". (*A donation of $4.00/person is encouraged-The opportunity to fire inert bear spray has been arranged for those who would like to give it a try! This opportunity is quite expensive but we feel these "demos" are very important for the safety of competitors, so please donate accordingly!)
If you are flying to the AOC's or coming from outside of Canada, you are strongly advised to obtain your bear spray in Calgary or Canmore. Transport Canada prohibits passengers from carrying animal repellent sprays on all flights (TP 14628 E - Prohibited Items List). If you are crossing the border between USA and Canada, note that it is legal to carry animal repellent sprays (but NOT legal to carry pepper spray which is intended for use on humans). However, you must declare it and you could encounter difficulties with customs officials.
Thank you for your understanding and cooperation with this mandated safety practice for the 2017 AOC's .
"Carrying bear spray is like wearing a bike helmet - you probably won't fall off your bike, but if you do fall it is good to be wearing a helmet. Likewise, you probably won't run into a bear, but if you do it will be really good to have bear spray",
and former national team member
"As a competitor for over 25 years in Alberta & BC I've never seen a bear during a race. However whenever i travel in the forest I carry bear spray - it gives me peace of mind and is not cumbersome. I've never used it and have to dispose of expired canisters every few years.
As an organizer of the COC 2016 races I'm happy that participants will carry bear spray so that even in the unlikely case that a bear encounter happens the participants will have protection if the bear becomes aggressive",
Technical Chief for COC 2016
“Personally, I would never ride/run in Canmore area without it [bear spray], so I guess it makes sense…. they do have some resident bears.”
former Canmore resident
“After decades of research on bears and the efficacy of bear spray, evidence shows that carrying bear spray while participating in orienteering competitions in the Bow Valley Corridor should be the best way to minimize the chances of a negative encounter with bears. It is my belief that widespread use of bear spray will promote human safety and bear conservation.”
Professor Emeritus of Environmental Science,
University of Calgary – Jan 15, 2016