CANMORE – A mature male black bear seeking food and garbage that entered a home garage in the Peaks of Grassi neighbourhood was darted and removed on Saturday (Aug. 25).
The bear, which was first attracted to the area due to natural food sources such as buffalo berries and fruit trees, grew more brazen and accustomed to human sources of food during several days spent in the neighbourhood.
According to Fish and Wildlife, the bear had been in the area for a number of days and was being monitored, but on Saturday it was deemed to be dangerous to residents. During the bear’s search for food, it attempted to enter homes and pillaged improperly stored garbage.
“This bear wasn’t showing signs of fear toward people and there had been reports of people getting within close proximity. At that point, it is a public safety (issue),” said Matthew Visentin, a Fish and Wildlife officer with the Cochrane and Canmore division.
“They are a wild animal and they need to be treated as such. The best option for this bear is to relocate it.
“It started to get into some unnatural food sources, like garbage. When we found it, it was actually inside somebody’s garage. At that point, it was determined to be a public safety issue. We successfully immobilized the bear, it went very smooth.”
Nicholas Raymond, a resident of Montreal vacationing in Canmore for the week, was surprised by the close encounter with the bear.
“I didn’t expect to see that during my time here,” said Raymond. “Normally there’s a black cat that comes to my window, and I was like, ‘ah my friend is there. Oh f—, it’s a big black bear.’ ”
According to Raymond, the bear was eating garbage next door and when the RCMP arrived they asked him to stay indoors while they dealt with the bear.
The owner of the house where the trash was found declined to give his name, but said he was just about to haul the trash out and admitted it was stored improperly.
“I don’t think there was a lid on that one,” said the owner. “Not being backed onto the forest, we felt pretty safe here, (we’re) definitely going to be watching our kids a little bit more, definitely going to be putting lids on top of garbage and not storing it outside anymore.”
The bear was eventually cornered and tranquillized near Peaks of Grassi Park, then hauled on a stretcher to a bear trap sitting nearby. It was relocated on Sunday (Aug. 26) to an area about 40 kilometres away, according to Brendan Cox, a spokesperson for Alberta Fish and Wildlife. The transition of the bear to his new habitat was a success, and he was given the designation of SW-0561.
Although the bear was attracted by natural food sources, Visentin stressed the importance of residents removing berry bushes and fruit trees in their yards, as well as storing garbage properly.
“Especially at this time of year, when the bears are really starting to become active in finding food, they’re going to be trying to find anything, any food source they can,” said Visentin.
“For berry bushes in yards, we recommend homeowners remove the food source, the berries from the tree or cut down the tree or shrub itself just to remove that food source.”