Banff seeing 'unprecedented' wildlife incidents, says ecologist
Park staff have responded to roughly 1,000 wildlife incidents, many involving bears
There have been an "unprecedented" number of wildlife incidents in Banff National Park this year, says a wildlife ecologist.
Staff have dealt with more than 1,000 encounters ranging from bears looking for food in tents to charging hikers to people encountering elk in the town site.
- Hikers near Canmore ignore trail closures, risk bear encounter
- Elk get 'hazed' out of Banff National Park
- Banff bears keep tourists, residents on edge
Part of the problem could be the late spring thaw.
"A large part of those probably are bear incidents and we know that this year in particular, the snow really persisted for quite a long time in the spring and into the summer at higher elevations," said David Gummer, a wildlife ecologist at the park.
"We did see bears congregating in the low-lying valley bottoms, where we also have a lot more activity from people, so that probably accounts for a large part of the increase."
Gummer says there are also a lot of young bears trying to mark out territory for themselves and are ending up in areas closer to humans.
In comparison to previous years, Gummer says the wildlife encounters have increased 33 per cent in 2014.
Park staff are still working to manage all of the calls that come in, but he says people need to remember to obey wildlife warnings or closure signs and keep a watch out for animals.
Gummer says bears are likely down to lower areas in search of berries and food before heading into hibernation.
But he says park staff have noticed the berry crops are not as abundant as past years — meaning bears will likely have to search far and wide for food sources.