Grizzly bears near Calgary prompt wildlife groups to install electric fence
Hungry animals wandering east into areas not typically considered bear country, say experts
Southern Alberta's Grizzly bear families are spreading farther east in search of food, and wildlife experts are urging some farm and acreage owners near the Calgary area to consider bear-proofing their properties.
Will Goode, who lives in Springbank, had an up-close encounter with three grizzlies at his home last summer.
"Next thing you know, we got a big ol' Mama bear standing there, looking at us ... eating crab apples," he said.
Goode stood at the window and watched one adult and two young grizzlies snacking away at a tree beside his house for about 30 minutes, he said, before they walked away.
Gina Nenniger, who lives on an acreage in Bearspaw, Alta., had a similar encounter last spring, when she says two young grizzlies tore into her family's trash cans and beehive.
"They pretty much obliterated the garbage bin," she said.
Electric, bear-proof fencing
This year, wildlife groups helped Nenniger install a bear-proof garbage container and an electric bear-proof fence around their bees and fruit trees.
The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) and the Bear Conflict Solutions Institute hope this serves as a bear smart example for other landowners.
"We're starting to see bears in areas that people don't necessarily expect," said Katie Morrison with CPAWS.
"It's not just about carrying your bear spray when you're hiking, it's also about looking at your own property and how you can avoid these conflicts in areas that maybe you don't expect to see bears."
It's not uncommon for adult male grizzlies to explore east of Cochrane, but it's unusual for young bears to be spotted active so close to the city, said Jay Honeyman with Alberta Environment and Parks.
Honeyman said bear-proofing garbage bins, moving bird feeders out of reach and installing electric fences can help reduce attractants for bears.
"People are electrifying their gardens these days in bear country, and those are all best practices," he said.
"More and more, people are realizing that with a little bit of effort, they can actually secure their food from bears, and then we don't have bear problems."
With files from Dave Gilson