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Black bear survives vehicle strike

Parks Canada believes a black bear that was struck by a van on the Minnewanka Loop survived the impact. Several black bears are feeding roadside due to buffaloberries in the area
Bear hit on highway
Several black bears have been hit and killed by vehicles this summer in the Bow Valley, including this black bear that had to be immobilized in Canmore on July 31. Tanya Foubert Photo.

BANFF – A black bear hit by a van on the Minnewanka Loop in Banff National Park as darkness fell likely survived.

Parks Canada got the call from the driver, who said a bear had been struck in the area of Two Jack Lakeside campground area about 10 p.m. on Sunday (Aug. 18).

Blair Fyten, a human-wildlife coexistence specialist for Banff National Park, said the van was slightly damaged, but all indications at the time were the bear got up quickly and ran off into the woods.

“We couldn’t find any evidence of the bear in the area or blood on the road or anything like that,” he said, noting Parks went to investigate at first light the next morning.

“We believe this bear is still running around out there. We have seen a few bears along the road and they are all moving around normally with no issues.”

The posted speed limit of 50-km/h makes it easier for an animal to survive impact.

“We figure that this van was probably going slow enough; they figured they were going about 30 km/h after they applied the brakes when they hit the bear,” Fyten said.

“Bears are quite resilient and can still get up and run away depending on the speed.”

This is the second black bear struck by a vehicle on the Minnewanka Loop this month that’s believed to have survived. On Aug. 1, that bear got up and ran away too.

 “We never did find any sign of an injured bear there,” Fyten said.

“Likewise, the vehicle had some minor damage, but the bear actually ran right into the side of that car.”

 Five other bears in Banff National Park have not been so lucky this summer.

 A grizzly bear was struck by a semi-trailer and killed on Highway 93 South just after midnight on June 4, about one kilometre south of the Trans-Canada Highway heading up the hill towards Storm Mountain. It was the first time a grizzly bear had died at the hands of humans in five years in Banff National Park.

On June 22, Parks Canada was forced to kill an injured and emaciated female yearling bear cub reported on the Sunshine Road. It’s believed a vehicle struck the young bear on the Trans-Canada Highway 10 days earlier. The yearling, its sibling and mother were on the wrong side of the fence meant to keep wildlife off the highway.

“A female with two cubs got onto the highway west of the Sunshine interchange and one of her cubs was hit on the highway, but they all got away from us,” Fyten said.

“We never did find any of the bears at the time, but later on we located one of the cubs on the Sunshine road that had a broken leg. Even though we darted it and put it down, it was struck on the highway and so we’re counting that as a highway-related mortality.”

The three other bear mortalities so far this year were black bears – two on the Trans-Canada Highway and one on the Canadian Pacific Railway.

Parks Canada reminds drivers to be aware of their surroundings, noting there are still buffaloberry bushes along the Minnewanka Loop.

“We’re starting to see the end of them, but there’s still some bushes that have quite a few berries,” Fyten said.

“At this time of year when bears are actually feeding on these bushes they can be roadside at any time of the day.”



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