An Alberta grizzly bear and one of her cubs were hit by a train and killed Monday near Canmore. A second cub survived the accident.
Jon Jorgenson, a senior wildlife biologist with the province's Sustainable Resource Development Department, said the sow, known as Bear 71, was a productive bear that had had three sets of cubs since 2004. His officers are frustrated by the loss, he said.
"These are the exact kinds of bears that do well here, and we've worked long and hard to keep her that way," he said. "We've been very successful, and to lose her like this is pretty tough to take."
The second cub was found in a culvert trap Tuesday morning, wet but in good condition. The female orphan, which weighs 32 kilograms, was to be relocated to Banff National Park later in the day, near where she was raised.
Trains should slow down, says biologist
The area near Canmore where the bears were killed is home to Canadian Pacific Railway's tracks and the Trans-Canada Highway. It is a hazardous area for wildlife, Jorgenson said.
"We get hundreds of animals killed every year," he said. "If [the trains] were going slower there might be more opportunity to blow the whistle and flash the lights. That might give the animals that are on the tracks a chance to get out of the way."
A spokeswoman for Canadian Pacific, Breanne Fiegel, said the trains are going about 45 km/h. While the railway has no plans to slow trains through wildlife-heavy areas, it is taking steps to prevent the spillage from grain cars that attracts hungry bears.
"We have a vacuum truck out there," she said. "Our maintenance crews are out there with shop vacs."
The orphan faces a difficult future, but is likely to survive on its own, Jorgenson said.
"Grizzly bear cubs orphaned at this age have survived in the wild before, so he does have this in his favour. He does know the area where we are going to be taking him."
The surviving cub will be tagged.