Killing Bear 148 'remains on the table' as grizzly that chased humans spotted again near Canmore
Parks Canada and province working together to prevent further human encounters with female grizzly
A grizzly bear that has chased people and prompted numerous warnings in the Banff and Canmore areas has been spotted again, this time on the trail linking the two towns.
Alberta Parks says Bear 148, as the female has been tagged, was seen Tuesday on and near the Legacy Trail adjacent to the Banff National Park east gate.
The sightings prompted the department to issue a bear warning, but the trail has not been closed. Bear 148 is known to move back and forth in the area.
"Although an advisory is in place for this area, bears can be encountered anywhere in Kananaskis Country at any time," Alberta Parks said in its online advisory.
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So far this year, Bear 148 has wandered onto a rugby field during a high school practice in Banff, charged a person walking with a stroller and a dog on a leash west of Canmore and followed hikers and chased a woman who was kick-sledding.
Bear 148's reappearance in a populated area could put its life at risk.
Earlier this month, the province warned that if the grizzly exhibits aggressive behaviour toward people in provincially managed areas, officials might resort to killing it.
And Bill Hunt, a Parks Canada resource conservation manager, says the same goes for federally managed areas.
"That's always one of the outcomes or options when we're dealing with any of our large carnivores, and certainly remains on the table in this case, both for Parks Canada and the province," he said.
"It'll just depend on the nature of any future incidents. And we're working hard to prevent those incidents."
Hunt says the bear has been going back and forth, in and out of the national park boundaries, in recent days.
Many encounters with people
The bear was captured earlier this month by provincial fish and wildlife officers. The grizzly was moved to the western edge of its home range in Kootenay National Park.
But within days, the bear returned to the Sunshine turnoff area in Banff National Park, near the centre of her original home range, according Hunt.
Talk of possibly putting the bear down prompted wildlife advocates to start a petition against killing the animal. The petition has garnered almost 9,000 signatures.
Bear advocate Kim Titchener, who runs the education group Bear Safety and More, says volunteers have been out helping provincial crews remove Buffalo berries, which are currently ripening in the valley and attracting bears.
"[We're] trying to make the Quarry Lake area in Canmore not as appealing an area to come hang out, because that's where she's been getting into trouble with people. So we're hoping she'd turn around when she discovers there's no delicious food to eat," Titchener said.
At this time of year, bears have their heads down as they feast on the berries, making them easier to startle, said Hunt, the Parks Canada resource conservation manager.
As the berries start to ripen at higher elevations later in the summer, the bears will follow, heading farther up into the backcountry.
"Bear 148 is going to do what bears do. She's really focused on food. Alberta and Parks Canada are working very well at keeping that bear on the landscape while keeping people safe," Hunt said.
"Really, it's up to visitors and residents of the Bow Valley and how they choose to interact with that bear."