Downrigger weight triggered bomb investigation by police, military in Yukon

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This downrigger weight, used for fishing, caused an investigation by RCMP and the Canadian military because of its resemblance to a bomb. (Submitted by Skylar Stewart - image credit)
This downrigger weight, used for fishing, caused an investigation by RCMP and the Canadian military because of its resemblance to a bomb. (Submitted by Skylar Stewart - image credit)

Anthony Ted Dickson, an Upper Liard resident, was fishing on Sunday down the Liard River in the Yukon when he found a strange object that looked like military ordnance. As it turns out, it's far from it.

"I didn't know what it was. It looked like a bomb, but it's really heavy," said Dickson, trying to describe the find.

Dickson and his son, Skylar Stewart, uploaded a photo to Facebook of the 50-pound oval-shaped metal object with fins, which caused some anxiety in the comments.

By Sunday night, RCMP had been called and cordoned off the area to investigate. With the help of the Canadian military, the RCMP determined it wasn't an undetonated explosive at all.

It's a downrigger weight, used to hold fishing gear in deep water.

Staff Sgt. Kent Langley is the criminal operation reviewer with the RCMP. He said at a first glance, the object did mimic the shape of a bomb.

"There was some speculation that it was a bomb or that it was a practise bomb leftover from World War II, but it turned out to be a weight," said Langley, who explained the design makes the weight navigate smoother in the water.

"Certainly, when you first look at it, it's quite natural that people would think that it looks like a bomb — kind of like what you see in cartoons."

Langley said people should reach out to police when they're uncertain about objects like this.

"It's just one of those examples where people put things on Facebook but they don't necessarily call us right away. So you get a lot of people anxious about this, without the authorities who can do something about this [being] made aware," he said.

Although this is the first time the RCMP has been called for an item with this shape, Langley said it seems like the Canadian Armed Forces has encountered similar scenarios.

"One of their people was able to identify it as the 'trolling device' and I'm assuming that's because they've encountered this previously," he said.

Langley said the explosive disposal unit will use the object for training purposes.