Three black bears killed in K-Country over two weeks
By: Ciaran Thompson
| Posted: Thursday, Aug 16, 2012 06:00 am
Alberta Parks and Kananaskis Country Public Safety are advising people to beef up their education and be more aware after three black bears were killed over the past two weeks in human-related incidents.
On July 31, a juvenile black bear was destroyed after it became “food conditioned” and approached campgrounds in the east Kananaskis area while two young black bears were stuck and killed on Highway 40 last Wednesday (Aug. 8).
Alberta Parks Conservation Officer Arian Spiteri said the bear in east Kananaskis was around three years old and was in good condition. It visited several human-occupied locations in the area before it was eventually killed at Paddy’s Flat campground.
“The bear’s behaviour was consistent with a bear that was food conditioned,” she said. “It had approached numerous vehicles and garbage/recycling containers. In several cases the bear made contact with and damaged tents. One of them was occupied.
“Because of that behaviour, the decision was made to destroy the animal,” she explained.
Spiteri noted that destroying the bear was the only viable option since relocation would simply move the problem somewhere else while still leaving the public at risk.
“An animal that’s made contact and damaged tents… to relocate, you’re just putting the potential of an incident somewhere else,” she said. “If the bear is starting to go towards tents and putting its paws on tents that are occupied, the public safety risk is just too high.”
The conservation officer stressed the importance of keeping campsites clean to avoid any human-related incidents, which usually results in bears being destroyed.
“The unfortunate thing about it all is the death of that bear was entirely preventable,” she said. “Whether it’s people not storing their food properly in their camp sites or bears being fed.
“If you’re camping, you need to ensure that your food and garbage and even recycling containers are stored in vehicles or bearproof bins,” she added.
Being bear aware not only applies to campgrounds and trails, but also on rural roads and highways after two young bears were killed on highway 40.
According to Kananaskis Country park ecologist John Paczkowski, the two black bears were similar in size to a medium dog and were both killed in one incident on the highway.
“Whoever hit them did not report it,” Paczkowski said. “Parks staff later discovered the bears there. They might have been first year cubs. We don’t know if there’s another cub still with the mother.
“It would be great if people did report things because then we might have an agitated female around and we’d want to know about something like that,” he added.
At this time of year, bears can be seen bordering roads, trails and campgrounds due to the abundance of ripe berries, a critical food source for both black bears and grizzlies, Spiteri noted.
“For bears, they’re trying to pack on as many calories they can before denning season,” she said. “Anywhere you see berry bushes you’ll end up with a higher potential of encountering bears at this time of year.
“In some cases, berry bushes can be so dense that you might not even see a bear in the bushes feeding,” she added. “We’ve posted up berry notices at a number of different trailheads to remind people it’s berry season.”
Another issue that could lead to human encounters with wildlife, the officer said, are people running on trails while listening to music.
“So many people we see running around wearing headphones or ear buds. A lot of times what wildlife might do if they feel threatened is they’ll make vocalization,” she said. “How is a person supposed to hear that?”
If walking or running on trails, Spiteri advises people to be observant, make lots of noise, carry bear spray and leave the area immediately if they see a bear or a dead animal. All bear sightings should also be reported.