Calgary

Railway, wildlife group spar over bear deaths

Wildlife lobby groups and the Canadian Pacific Railway are at loggerheads over the deaths of grizzly bears in Banff National Park.

Wildlife lobby groups and the Canadian Pacific Railway are at loggerheads over the deaths of grizzly bears in Banff National Park.

The bears are attracted by grain that falls on the tracks from railway cars.

The railway says it is doing its best to prevent grizzlies from being killed on its tracks. Ed Greenberg, a spokesman for the railway, said a study done by the University of Calgary, partly funded by the railway, shows two of 39 bear deaths from 1993 to 2002 were CPR related.

"At the end of the day, the railway is not the major contributor to bear mortality through the parks region," Greenberg said. "It is a community issue, it is a wildlife management strategy issue that involves other stakeholders and not just the railway."

Jim Pissot, the executive director of Defenders of Wildlife Canada, said the railway is deflecting the blame.

"I am absolutely infuriated with that irresponsible response from the Canadian Pacific Railway. They know better. The evidence shows better and they are simply trying to absolve themselves of a very bloody record with a script that we have heard repeatedly for the last several years.?

The railway says it is one of the few railways in the world that uses a vacuum car to sweep up spilled grain along the tracks.

Pissot's group says the vacuum car is a good idea but sometimes it doesn't arrive until a day or more after a spill.

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