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Banff grizzly 'Split Lip' caught eating another bear — for the second time

A grizzly bear in Banff National Park who gained a notorious reputation in part for killing and eating another grizzly a few years back has now been spotted eating a cub.

Parks Canada specialist says grizzlies eating grizzlies actually not uncommon

Bear No. 136, seen here in spring 2020, was nicknamed Split Lip by locals because he has a scar on his mouth. (Parks Canada)

A grizzly bear in Banff National Park who gained a notorious reputation in part for killing and eating another grizzly a few years back has now been spotted eating a cub.

Bear No. 136 — nicknamed "Split Lip" for his disfigured mouth — killed a 2½-year-old cub belonging to female bear No. 142 near the Bow Valley Parkway last Thursday, according to Parks Canada.

In 2015, Split Lip's tracking collar helped reveal he had eaten another grizzly bear in the Mystic Pass area of Banff National Park.

Jon Stuart-Smith, a Parks Canada human-wildlife coexistence specialist, says grizzlies killing grizzlies is a natural occurrence in the wild. 

"It can be a little disheartening when the goal is to protect the species as much as we can. But as I said it is part of their natural behaviour, so it is something we have to expect to occur from time to time," he said.

"It does seem counter-productive to a species to have this kind of behaviour as part of their biology, but that's just what bears do."

Jon Stuart-Smith, a Parks Canada human-wildlife coexistence specialist, says grizzlies killing grizzlies is a natural occurrence in the wild. (Parks Canada)

Stuart-Smith says it's possible that eating another bear's young is a way for a male grizzly to remove a competing male's offspring, thus increasing its own chances of mating with a female.

"But it's hard to know for sure whether that was the reason or not. Part of the reason at this time of year is that they're just hungry," he said.

The 18- to 20-year-old Split Lip is well known in the Bow Valley for his fearless attitude toward people.

"He's not a bear that shies away from people as some other bears do," Stuart-Smith said.

Parks Canada estimates there are about 60 grizzlies in Banff National Park, which Stuart-Smith says is a fairly stable number.

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