Grizzly Relocation Demonstrates that Recovery is Everyone’s Responsibility
Canmore, AB – A grizzly sow and her three cubs were relocated from the Bow Valley Wednesday June 27, 2012 after several days of provincial officials attempting to keep the bear family away from the Town of Canmore. Officials from Solicitor General, Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, Tourism Parks and Recreation, had literally spent days using a subtle hazing process to steer the family away from Canmore and back into their normal home range in Kananaskis Country. The bears did not display any aggressive behaviours towards people, but once they wandered through a couple of Canmore neighbourhoods, officials could no longer invest the man power to keep them away from people. These bears were very habituated and indifferent to the close presence of people.
“In this situation, Government staff did everything they could to keep the community and people safe, but the bear would not return to the safety of Kananaksis Country,” said Sarah Elmeligi, Senior Conservation Planner for the Southern Alberta Chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society. “This unfortunate incident speaks to the fact that grizzly bear recovery is all of our responsibilities.”
It is difficult to determine why the bears were not responsive to aversive conditioning but every bear is different and their response to conditioning varies. Research has shown that females with cubs will select habitats in areas of human use as a way to separate themselves from dominant males, who have been known to engage in infanticide. It is possible this bear was pushed out of Kananaskis Country by a dominant male, but it is impossible to say that with certainty.
“While this bear was in town, certain trails were closed and people were advised to carry bear spray and keep their dogs on a leash,” continued Elmeligi. “Yet there were several instances of people not taking these precautionary measures. When you live or play in a community that has grizzly bears in it, it is up to you to ensure the safety of yourself, your pets, and of our resident bears.”
CPAWS Southern Alberta is reminding people who visit and live in the Bow Valley that the forests surrounding the communities of Canmore and Banff are also home to grizzly and black bears. Thus, all visitors and residents need to take responsibility for managing attractants in their backyards and on the trails to ensure bears who do come in to town have no reason to stay and make it out of town alive.
“Managing attractants means ensuring you have a clean barbeque, no dog food outside, and properly disposed garbage,” says Elmeligi. “But it also applies to people who don’t live here and who need to make sure their dogs are on leash, they carry bear spray, and they obey trail closures. If we all work together, we can ensure safe human communities and a healthy grizzly bear population. We can coexist with grizzly bears, but it will take effort on all our parts.”
The removal of three bears from the Bow Valley, particularly a reproducing female, is potentially impactful to this sensitive population where reducing human-caused bear mortality is key to their sustainability.
For more information, contact:
- Sarah Elmeligi, CPAWS Southern Alberta: 403-688-8641