Kootenay travel restrictions now in place
By: Cathy Ellis
| Posted: Thursday, Aug 16, 2012 06:00 am
For the first time, it is now mandatory for hikers to travel in groups of four or more on a popular trail in Kootenay National Park in a bid to avoid dangerous bear encounters.
Restricted access – similar to that in place in several areas in Banff National Park – is now in place for the Kindersley-Sinclair Trail because there have been several bear sightings and close range encounters since 2009.
It started Aug. 14 and runs until Thanksgiving.
“Kindersley-Sinclair is very popular and beautiful, but it is also really important for wildlife and there have been encounters with bears at fairly close proximity over the last few yeas,” said Omar McDadi, a Parks Canada spokesman.
“This trail has either been closed or under wildlife warning for a total of 137 days throughout the summer months of July, August and September since 2009.”
Banff National Park has had similar restrictions during periods of elevated bear activity at Moraine Lake for about a decade, and also has restricted access at Bryant Creek-Allenby Pass and Lake Minnewanka-Aylmer Pass.
McDadi said Parks Canada wanted to try a similar approach in Kootenay National Park.
He said there have been several close encounters in recent years, including a hiker that was bluff-charged after surprising a grizzly bear in 2010 and a grizzly actually chasing a runner last summer, among other incidents.
“Due to the design of the trail, hikers are often moving through areas of poor sightlines, there are a lot of avalanche slopes and areas close to creeks where it can be difficult to detect and avoid bears,” McDadi said.
“Recognizing how much people love this trail and how popular it is, we’d like to try and keep it open and accessible and a way to do that is to implement restricted access.”
Hikers who do not comply could face a charge under the Canada National Parks Act and face a maximum fine of $25,000.