Five black bears shipped from Canmore

“I think there is still this preconceived assumption that the fish and the wildlife came and they took the bear to some kind of bear utopia where there is a lot of food and no one and everything is. happy, but the reality is that the bear utopia does not exist. “

CANMORE – Five black bears feasting on fruit-laden trees in residential neighborhoods were captured and shipped from Canmore last week, including a mother bear and her two cubs.

A bear and one of her cubs were caught in a trap off Eagle Terrace Road on September 29.

Two other bears were caught and moved, including a male bear believed to have bluff charging people.

An Alberta Fish and Wildlife spokesperson said the female black bear and her cubs have been seen frequently outside the natural wildlife movement corridor and growing in attractants such as fruit trees in the residential areas.

“The male black bear that was immobilized was also accessing residential attractants, and officers have received reports of the bear bluffing charge,” said Ina Lucila, communications advisor for Alberta Justice and Solicitor. General.

Over the past two or three weeks, there have been several close encounters between bears and people in neighborhoods across Canmore, including an incident involving a group of schoolchildren cycling from the Cougar Creek area to the Lawrence Grassi High School near Spring Creek.

Lucila said having a large animal accustomed to an urban area is a serious public safety issue, especially when the animal is not afraid of people and willingly approaches them.

“Bears that show this kind of behavior are at an increased risk of injuring or killing someone, which is why officers decide to relocate these bears,” she said.

Meanwhile, in the community of Field in Yoho National Park, there is a citywide bear warning due to the high risk of encountering a bear with a higher than normal presence of black bears feeding on mountain ash trees.

Parks Canada immediately removes all mountain ash trees from its properties and encourages all residents to do the same on their properties.

“Finally, we would like to temporarily place electric fences around any remaining trees until the bears leave for hibernation,” Parks Canada said in a briefing to local residents of Field.

Sarah Elmeligi, a Canmore-based bear biologist, said Canmore residents are okay with bears coming to town – but it becomes a public safety risk when they decide to stick around for a while.

“We should have a city run in such a way that when bears come into town, they go through it because there is nothing interesting here, there is nothing to hold them back here,” he said. she declared.

“What we’ve seen in the last few weeks is that bears stay in town because that’s where the food is – like rowan, like cherry trees or crabapples you haven’t picked. but which have now fallen and are rotting. the ground. “

A black bear hung out in the Elmeligi neighborhood near Cougar Point Road for over a week.

“It’s not a good situation. You have kids getting on the school bus and walking through this green space where there might be a sleeping black bear, and people coming home from work early in the evening or early in the morning, ”she said.

“You don’t really want a bear hanging around your neighborhood. It’s too risky for people, and of course, if it’s risky for people, it’s risky for the bear.

The relocation of bears shows that the community needs to better manage trees laden with fruit or berries, such as white cherry, crabapple, and rowan, which attract drizzle to town year after year.

Being a bumper year for rowan, combined with a bad wild buffalo season, Elmeligi said bears come to town to eat as many last-minute calories needed to get through winter hibernation.

“The bears are coming to town because there is no food in the woods and they are going to stay here because that is where the food is,” she said, adding that it is a strong reminder that the management of bear attractants is not limited to the storage of garbage, cleaning barbecues and dismantling bird feeders.

“You cannot be a responsible owner of Canmore and have fruit trees on your private property. I think it’s time for everyone in town to start taking this very seriously, because relocation isn’t working.

The practice of moving bears out of their home ranges is used by Alberta fish and wildlife as an alternative to slaughtering the animal on site, but Elmeligi said the move is more or less a condemnation. to death in many cases.

She said translocations generally have low success rates due to the difficulties bears have in establishing themselves in new areas due to competition with other bears, foraging or calving. for winter.

“Any displaced bear that is moved on public land along the eastern slopes not only has no idea where it is in the landscape, but now faces a whole host of threats that it does not. haven’t had to deal with it before – and that’s why they have a really reduced chance of survival, ”she said.

“I think there is still this preconceived assumption that the fish and the wildlife came and they took the bear to some kind of bear utopia where there is a lot of food and no one and everything is. happy, but the reality is that the bear utopia does not exist. “

Elmeligi said some displaced bears will find their way to Canmore or potentially other towns in search of food.

Upon their return, she said, they are often identified as problem bears and can be destroyed if there is a risk to human security.

“They could be relocated again, although with black bears I don’t know how much of a chance they have,” she said.

Until the 2018 Bow Valley Human-Wildlife Coexistence Report, the province destroyed 19 black bears and one grizzly bear in the Bow Valley over the past 20 years, which includes the Four year old male grizzly bear who killed Isabelle Dubé in June 2005 while jogging near Silvertip.

In addition, 66 black bears and 12 grizzly bears were moved out of the Bow Valley during the same period. No updated figures were available at the time of publication.

On provincial lands, decisions to kill or move an animal are assessed on a case-by-case basis by assessing various factors, including the nature, frequency and severity of animal behavior.

The province has previously noted that not all bears are moved based on a particular incident, highlighting the 2016 case in which a black bear that ran over a mountain biker on the south side of the valley was not dispatched.

The Bow Valley Human-Wildlife Coexistence Working Group technical working group recommended further research into the effectiveness of bear transfers to ensure the best chance of success for bearers. animals moved outside their home range.