Calgary

Rocky Mountain bear cubs ride the rails

A trio of hobo bear cubs have been hopping trains in the Rocky Mountains, sparking concern from wildlife officials.

A trio of hobo bear cubs have been hopping trains in the Rocky Mountains, sparking concern fromwildlife officials.

The black bear cubs first climbed onto a Canadian Pacific Railway caron May 31 in Yoho National Park, which is in the Rockies in British Columbia, about 30 kilometres west of Lake Louise, Alta.

Parks Canada wardens suspect the cubs climbed up to feed on grain with their mother, who managed to hop off when the train started moving.

The distressed cubs were stuck until the crew of another train spotted them. The train stopped in Field, B.C., and wardens brought the cubs back to their mother.

But two days later, the cubs boarded a train car for a second time. This time, two residents of Field heard the bears' cries and the trio was once again reunited with mom.

Jim Pissot, the executive director of Defenders of Wildlife Canada, said thatit's not uncommon for bears to eat spilled grain on train tracks in the Rocky Mountain national parks — but he said it's unusual for wild animals to climbonto trains.

However, he pointed out that, as bears come out of hibernation, they are desperate to find food.

"Bears are supposed to be a bit leery of human structures and humans, but when there's food involved, that trumps everything," he said.

Pissot said he hopes the cubs don't climb onto a train for a third time. Hesaid Canadian Pacific should try to prevent bears from climbing onto cars by planningits stops in less remote areas, such as the towns of Canmore and Banff.

"I think the CP Railway should absolutely not park or stop trains within the park, particularly in sensitive bear areas."

Breanne Feigel, a spokeswoman for Canadian Pacific, said trains carrying grain rarely roll to a halt in the national parks, but occasionally they must stop to let another train go by.

"Our company is certainly trying to do what we can realistically to reduce any contact with wildlife."

The company is investing $20 million to identify and repair 6,000 of its cars that are responsible for spilled grain.

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