Parks Canada Calls for Allowing Shotguns in Northern National Parks

Parks Canada proposed allowing researchers, soldiers, and some aboriginals to carry shotguns in Canada's northernmost national parks, in order to better protect them against violent polar bears. It plans to hold public consultations in communities near its northern parks, such as Auyuittuq National Park in Nunavut. If adopted, the firearm rule would apply to 10 national parks in the Northeast territories.

Certain groups of people have already been permitted to carry firearms in national parks with polar bears under a two year pilot project. Now Parks Canada wants to entrench that right into its wild animals regulations.

Rob Prosper, executive director of northern parks, said that permits would only be given to those who know how to handle a shotgun and are certified to use one. Regular visitors would still be prohibited from carrying weapons.

“The experience in the Arctic over the years is that an interaction between a polar bear and a human is a significantly elevated risk,” Mr. Prosper said. “Polar bears don’t necessarily differentiate between seals and humans.”

The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society hasn’t had a chance to review the proposed changes.