Black bear shot in Canmore
A chance to move a habituated bear from Canmore ended tragically after Fish and Wildlife and RCMP members shot and killed a large black bear on the Policeman’s Creek trail on Sunday (May 20).
The 300 pound bear, which had been spotted in town 12 times on a busy Sunday around Policeman’s Creek, was described as ‘severely habituated,’ and appeared immune to Fish and Wildlife tranquilizer darts.
At 7:30 p.m., a cyclist encountered the bear on the trail near Bow Valley Basics. The bear then climbed a tree to safety.
Fish and Wildife Officer Dave Dickson, along with a conservation officer and nine RCMP members, shut down the trail and shot the bear with a tranquilizer dart. The officers planned to tag and move the bear away from the townsite, however, the situation quickly worsened.
“The initial dart didn’t take. We darted him three times. We did everything we could to try and move him,” Dickson said.
After RCMP closed the trail, the officers targeted the anxious bear. The darts found their mark, but the bear did not succumb to the tranquilizing drugs. Dickson even used two different types of drugs to slow the animal and fully anticipated moving him. He had the bear’s soon-to-be new ear tag in his hand and a culvert trap waiting in tow.
The Canmore Fire department also arrived on scene and used their ladder truck to coax the bear out of the tree.
Just after 9 p.m., with daylight slipping away, the bear quickly climbed down the tree in search of escape. He hit the ground and began to run. But by then, its fate was sealed. Unwilling to have a darted, angry bear running through town, the animal was shot and killed.
“All efforts were made to remove the bear safely, but everything went poorly,” Dickson said. “The RCMP didn’t want him loose in town on the long weekend.”
Tranquilizers rarely fail, however, some bears are more resilient than others. The concoction used has successfully knocked out 450 pound grizzly bears.
“He was very resilient to the drugs. The darts didn’t hit the bone. It had three times as much drug as it’s supposed to take. There was no way to let a bear in that much stress be about town,” Dickson said.
Fish and Wildlife officers were frustrated the opportunity to give the bear a second chance and ensure public safety ended so poorly.
“It looked like a win/win situation. This was a real opportunity to move this bear somewhere safer and keep the public safe,”Dickson said. “On Sunday, we were getting a call it seemed every few minutes about him.”
Dickson said the bear was ‘severely habituated’ and was seen in several back yards in the downtown area . He later learned that over the past two weeks, the bear had broken into sheds and outdoor freezers, but wasn’t reported. He stressed that all bear sightings should be reported to Fish and Wildlife, for the safety of the bear and public.
“He had been seen in a lot of yards. It’s likely he’d gotten into some food sources,” Dickson said.
Many bears move down to valley bottoms at this time of year in search of food. Dickson believes this bear knew the area.
The was a joint operation between Fish and Wildlife, Conservation Officers and the RCMP.
“We were standing shoulder to shoulder. A huge effort wen tinto that bear,” Dickson said.
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