Black bear gets into food, garbage
An opportunistic black bear feasted on food and garbage at a campground in Banff National Park on the weekend, prompting wildlife experts to warn campers that failing to keep a clean site is dangerous for both people and bears.
The young male bear was captured Tuesday morning (July 24) near Two Jack Lake and released later that afternoon on site. He was frightened off by Parks Canada’s wildlife specialists with noisemakers, sirens and flashing lights in an attempt to teach him to stay away from the campground.
The bruin is being closely monitored, but a warning is in place for Two Jack Lakeside and Two Jack Main campgrounds to alert campers the bear is in the area.
Wildlife officials urge campers to keep a clean campsite, store all food, cookware, utensils and coolers properly – either inside a vehicle or in the campground’s storage lockers – and dispose of all garbage in bear-proof bins.
“Hopefully people will make a better effort to keep their campsites clean and keep garbage and food properly stored,” said Steve Michel, a human-wildlife conflict specialist for Banff National Park.
The young bear, which weighs in at about 100 pounds, has been seen in the area over the past two weeks, but got into unsecured food and garbage in the early morning hours of Sunday (July 22).
Resource conservation officials set up a trap to catch the bear Monday, and by Tuesday morning the bear had been caught, lured into the trap by the stench of bait.
The bear was too small for wildlife experts to fit him with a collar, but they were able fit him with an ear transmitter. After giving him time to recover from the ordeal of his capture, they released him late Tuesday afternoon.
Typically, in a hard-release, the bear is frightened off with rubber bullets and beans bags, along with a host of noisemakers, bear bangers, screamers, sirens and flashing lights.
Michel said the bear was too small for the use of rubber bullets and beanbags, but noisemakers were used in an attempt to teach him to associate that location with a bad experience.
“The idea is to make it a very unpleasant experience for him, but we don’t want to physically injure him with rubber bullets, which is a possibility if an animal is too small and doesn’t have enough muscle mass,” he said.
“We will closely monitor him over the next several days and will do aversive conditioning if he continues to return to the campground area, and try to convince him to stay away and not to seek out unnatural food sources.”
Meanwhile, there has been a high level of bear activity around the Banff townsite over the past week, including grizzly bear 64 and her three yearling cubs feasting on buffalo berries. The crop looks good, and excellent in some places.
Michel said bear 64 – a 23-year-old resident grizzly with her three young ones in tow – circumnavigated the town twice over a 48-hour period on July 22 and 23.
“They were feeding on shepherdia berries (buffalo berries) everywhere they want – on the slopes of Tunnel Mountain, on the edge of the golf course, on Vermilion Lakes Road,” he said.
Michel said Parks wants to remind people to keep dogs on a leash at all times, travel in groups, make lots of noise, and carry bear and, importantly, know how to use it.
“It’s that time of year again when the potential for a surprise encounter with a bear is much higher and it’s very important for people to take all the precautions,” he said.
“Over the years, when we have had contact incidents, attacks, it is often associated with the buffalo berry season, and it is defensive attacks where bears are startled suddenly.”
Bears sightings should be reported to Parks Canada at 403-762-1470.
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