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Bears are active in valley bottoms this time of year, mountain visitors reminded

Wildlife experts are renewing warnings about bear safety in the mountains as visitor numbers pick up — just as the bears are hitting the valley bottoms to feed.

Snow higher up in the mountains is keeping animals at lower elevations, where people tend to be

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Alberta wildlife experts are renewing warnings about bear safety in the mountains as visitor numbers pick up — just as the bears are hitting the valley bottoms to feed.

"This time of year, they can't get up into the high country," Bill Hunt with Parks Canada said of the bears' late-spring behaviour.

"It's still a lot of snow up high, and so we have a lot of bears and a lot of people down in the valley bottom."

Overall, Hunt said recent bear activity is pretty typical for this time of year, but he noted a few recent incidents that have kept staff busy.

Those include a large male grizzly that tried to cross a bridge in the Banff townsite last weekend, and a black bear that tore into a garbage bag at a Lake Minnewanka campsite.

Parks Canada is also investigating two incidents of visitors feeding black bears.

"It's a very small percentage of the visitors to Banff," Hunt said of the humans' late-spring behaviour.

"I think most people are very, very aware of how inappropriate it is and unlawful."

Nick de Ruyter with Wildsmart said there have been recent bear-related warnings and closures in Kananaskis Country, as well.

The most recent bear warning was issued this week for the Kananaskis Village area, including the Village Rim trail, where a cinnamon-coloured black bear has been repeatedly spotted.

In general, de Ruyter said visitors should carry bear spray and be aware of the animals.

"Understand what to do and how avoid encounters when heading out and recreating in bear country," he said.

With files from Dave Gilson