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Female grizzly struck and killed by train in Banff National Park

Female grizzly No. 143 is the first grizzly bear mortality on the railway in Banff National Park in eight years.

Bear's death on railway tracks the first in Banff since 2012

Parks Canada says it sought to better understand the causes of bear-train collisions and develop solutions through a joint research project with the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary from 2012 to 2016. (Submitted by Niels de Nijs)

A female grizzly bear has been struck and killed on the Canadian Pacific Railway line in Banff National Park, between Castle Junction and Lake Louise, Parks Canada said in a news release Friday.

The bear known to Parks Canada as GBF143 — or female grizzly No. 143 — died Thursday evening. 

Her home range spanned Banff, Yoho and Kootenay national parks. She was rarely seen in the front-country.

No. 143 is the first grizzly bear mortality on the railway in Banff since 2012.

"Mortality on railways is only one risk to the grizzly bear population in Banff National Park," the release said.

"Parks Canada takes many actions to manage human-use and promote wildlife coexistence."

A complex issue

Parks Canada said that it sought to better understand the causes of bear-train collisions, and develop solutions to discourage bears from using high-mortality risk zones, through a joint research project with the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary from 2012 to 2016.

They found many factors attracted bears to tracks, including nearby berry bushes, concentrated deer and elk populations and the convenient corridor that tracks provide through the landscape.

The research resulted in actions that included the creation of alternative travel routes for wildlife near portions of railway, and using prescribed fire and forest thinning to improve bear habitat, the release said.

It also cites an 80 per cent reduction in collisions between animals and vehicles due to wildlife crossings and fencing along the Trans-Canada Highway.

"Parks Canada is committed to managing the coexistence between people and wildlife in our national parks and sites," the release said.

"Research has shown that there is no single solution to the complex issue of bear mortalities on railways."

Parks Canada and CP Rail are both investigating the death of female grizzly No.143.

With files from Lydia Neufeld

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