Cochrane closes park after jogger runs past bear on pathway

The Town of Cochrane has closed a park along the Bow River after a bear was spotted ambling along a pathway Thursday.

Black bear was spotted on stairs to park, at intersection of Griffin Road and 5th Avenue

Riverfront Park in Cochrane, Alta., has been temporarily closed after this bear was spotted on the pathway Thursday. (Kurt Alksne)

UPDATE Aug. 24: Fish and Wildlife says an officer was able to scare the bear out of Riverfront Park and it swam away on Thursday. The Town of Cochrane says barricades have been removed from the area, but people should still be on alert for bears.

Cochrane, Alta., has closed a park along the Bow River after a bear was spotted ambling along a pathway Thursday.

Kurt Alksne was headed out for a run on his lunch break in Riverfront Park when a passerby flagged him down to tell him he had just run past a bear in the trees.

So, Alksne ran back on the trail to a well-trafficked pedestrian bridge to warn people not to head down that path.

"When I ran back that way, I could see the rustling in the bushes," he said. "As I was sitting there waiting, he kind of popped out onto the trail on the other side of the creek."

He snapped photos and video of the bear, which climbed down the stairs to the park from the intersection at Griffin Road and 5th Avenue.

Alksne estimated when he ran past the black bear cub, it was only about three metres away. Then, when it ambled out onto the trail, it was about 50 metres from him.

He called the Town of Cochrane's parks department, as well as Fish and Wildlife, with officers attempting to get the bear's attention and scare it toward the river.

"It kind of did take me by surprise," said Alksne, who always carries bear spray with him while jogging to be safe.

The town posted on Facebook around 2:30 p.m. that the park was closed until further notice, as Fish and Wildlife worked to move the bear out of the area. 

The closure came one day after a cougar was sighted in the town, prompting a warning to residents.

With files from Helen Pike