Officials from Canada's Banff National Park announced that hikers must carry bear spray through September 15 or face a $25,000 fine, a move that makes the park Canada's first to enact a bear-spray mandate. Parks Canada, concerned by a rising number of human-bear conflicts, will also require visitors to travel in groups of four or more. Earlier this month, a woman and her daughter startled a mother grizzly in Banff's Aylmer Pass, where hikers were attacked in 2001 and 2005. On Sunday, a grizzly mauled four teens who were hiking in Alaska, two-and-a-half weeks after a grizzly in Wyoming's Yellowstone National Park killed a man on July 6. Experts now believe that bear spray, the main ingredient of which is pepper, is more effective in defending against bear attacks than a firearm. Perhaps because of drought conditions or broader environmental changes, 2011 has seen more human-bear interactions than normal. "[W]e want people to understand just how serious the situation is if they choose to go hiking there," says Steve Michel, Banff's wildlife-conflict specialist.
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