Grain spills on tracks killing Banff bears: wildlife group

Three bears in Banff were killed recently after being attracted to leaked grain on rail tracks and being struck by trains, wildlife advocates say. They are calling on CP Rail to do more to prevent these deaths.

Alberta wildlife advocates say rail cars leaking grain are to blame for the recent deaths of three black bears in Banff National Park. The bears were struck when they wandered onto the tracks smelling food.

Defenders of Wildlife Canada held a protestin Calgary'sGulf Canada Square Tuesday, calling on CP Rail to do more to prevent those deaths from happening.

The Canmore-based group says bears are becoming increasingly attracted to the tracks by grain that has spilled out of rail cars. It wants CP to do a better job of cleaningrail linesoff and scaring bears away when trains are getting close.

"Parks Canada talked about bears like this that have actually become habituated and very accustomed to looking for grain," said Defenders executive director Jim Pissot.

"That's why we have to not only stop spilling grain and clean up the grain immediately, but also identify other measures to prevent what would be accidents."

Pissot says four grizzly bears have also been killed by trains since 2000, a number thehe finds alarming because the grizzly population is dwindling.

'Grain isn't the issue'

Ed Greenberg, a spokesman for CP Rail, said bears use the tracks as corridors to head into Banff, Canmore and other communities in the park. CP has a truck with a grain vacuum on it that cleans the rails, and railway staff are trained to keep rail cars securely fastened and prevent spills, he said.

"We do more than any other railway in North America when it comes to dealing with wildlife along our railway tracks," he said.

"The fact is, grain isn't the issue. This is an issue of rapid land development and expansion of human activities."