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Killing of 9 Revelstoke bears a wakeup call for Banff wildlife officials

Officials in Banff National Park say deterring wildlife from becoming conditioned to human food is top of mind, after nine bears had to be euthanized in the Revelstoke area in a one-week period.

Mountain towns replacing fruit trees to discourage animals from becoming habituated

To reduce wildlife attractants, Banff town manager Robert Earl says they replaced many fruit trees this spring. (CBC)

Officials in Banff National Park say deterring wildlife from becoming conditioned to human food is top of mind, after nine bears had to be killed in the Revelstoke area in a one-week period.

A bumper crop of berries has kept bears fed and away from the town of Banff, but park officials say it won't be long before that food source is spent.

Town manager Robert Earl estimates Banff issues fewer than six warnings a year to people leaving waste around, but says there is the odd charge.

"In the last month we've had to charge a local who left their property in a state such that wildlife was attracted," Earl told CBC News Monday.

Banff town manager Robert Earl says they want to reduce opportunities for wildlife to become habituated. (Natasha Frakes/CBC)

To reduce wildlife attractants, Earl says the town replaced many fruit trees this past spring.

"We don't want to create attractants. We don't want to create opportunities for wildlife to think about the developed spaces as areas where they can get food," he explained.

He says education is crucial for both residents and visitors.

Tyler McClure, with the conservation program WildSmart, says Canmore just announced a similar tree replacement program, but he says recent issues with bears and wolves indicate the priority may need to be shifted.

Tyler McClure with WildSmart says Canmore may have to adjust its strategy to deal with people not following the rules. (Natasha Frakes/CBC)

"We may need to shift some of our priority towards more proactive education and more enforcement if we're not seeing people following the rules on their own," McClure said.

"This year particularly, it's really highlighting the fact that we're having trouble communicating the message about keeping food and keeping garbage away from wildlife."

Earl agrees education is crucial and says the fact two wolves were destroyed for becoming food conditioned has also been a wakeup call.

"The actions that Parks Canada had to take, have brought into focus the need for us to be vigilant."

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