Grizzly that charged hiker with stroller to be released in Banff National Park
Bear 148 has a history of encounters with people, including 3 run-ins this spring
A problem grizzly that was captured after charging a person near Canmore, Alta., will be released in Banff National Park — but Bear 148 will be euthanized if it displays aggressive behaviour on provincially managed land again, officials said Tuesday.
Bow Valley Wildsmart says Bear 148, a large female collared grizzly, charged a person walking Monday with a stroller and a dog on a leash west of Canmore.
It's not the first time the grizzly has interacted with humans this spring. The same bear recently wandered onto a field during a high-school rugby game in Banff, followed some hikers and chased a woman who was kick-sledding.
After capturing the bear Monday night, Alberta Fish and Wildlife officials closed the power line trail from the Peaks of Grassi Road to Quarry Lake because the smell from the bait used to trap it was still lingering and could attract more bears.
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Grizzly bears are listed as a threatened species, so the animal will be released in Banff National Park, somewhere near her typical home range. However, if it exhibits aggressive behaviour again on provincially managed lands, it will have to be euthanized, officials said.
Parks Canada officials say they aren't prepared to go that far just yet.
Bill Hunt, resources conservation manager for Banff National Park, says they have worked hard to keep tabs on the bear and ensure the public's safety.
"She is very accustomed to people. She has hundreds of encounters each year with visitors," he said.
"And... we've not had a single contact charge or anybody hurt or injured. So, I think that record speaks for itself with those numbers of encounters.
"But that said, nobody can predict the future either. So, any time we hear of these interactions, we're very much concerned and we dig into each incident as much as we can to understand what the details were and if there's anything we can do to reduce the likelihood of that."
This spring alone, there have been three reported incidents with the large animal:
- In May, it wandered onto a rugby pitch in the Banff townsite, startling a high school girls rugby team named The Bears.
- Earlier that month, Bear 148 followed a group of hikers and their dog as they descended Mt. Norquay.
- In April, Bear 148 chased a woman who was kick-sledding — a form of dog sledding — on the Spray River Trail behind Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, following her and her dogs almost all the way back to her vehicle.
"We work very very hard to keep her outside of the town," Hunt said. "When she comes into town she gets hazed aggressively, or if she's in any of the builtup outlying areas — that's why we have the collar on her, is so that we can respond to those and haze her out of those areas and try to reaffirm that message that these are not areas where we'll tolerate her presence."
The encounters prompted a reminder from Parks Canada officials to stay bear alert in the backcountry.
Parks staff recommend hikers leave their dogs at home.
"We have a bear now that responds sometimes negatively to dogs. So, please consider leaving your dogs at home if you're hiking in the backcountry of Banff," said Hunt.
"We know that dogs can be a trigger for aggressive bear behaviour from a wide range of bears."
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