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Male grizzly bears still active

BOW VALLEY – Larger male grizzly bears in this area aren’t too sleepy yet.
Split Lip Dan Rafla
Bear No. 136, known as Split Lip for a scar on his mouth, is still out and about.

BOW VALLEY – Larger male grizzly bears in this area aren’t too sleepy yet.

A grizzly bear hanging out along the Great Divide Trail near Lake Louise and fresh grizzly tracks in Kananaskis Country last week have prompted warnings that some of the area’s larger male grizzly bears have not entered their dens yet for winter hibernation.

Provincial GPS data shows that collared female grizzly bears in the Bow Valley and Kananaskis Country area have either gone into their dens or are staying very close to their den sites.

“Just because it’s colder weather and there’s snow doesn’t mean that all the bears have gone to sleep yet,” said Nick de Ruyter, a program director with Bow Valley WildSmart.

“Even though a lot of females appear to be in dens, there are still certainly male grizzly bears out and about looking for food. As long as they can find food, they’ll stay out.”

Females with cubs are the first to den up in this area, typically in mid-November. Males in particular stay up as long as they have food available to them, which can be well past Christmas.

Grizzly bear 122, also known as The Boss, is still seen fairly regularly in the valley between Lake Louise and Banff. He’s often the last bear in this area to make his way into the den.

Bear No. 136, another large male known as Split Lip for a scar on his mouth that’s led to a disfigured lip, is also out and about. He made headlines in 2015 when he ate a smaller collared grizzly bear in the remote Mystic Pass area.

It’s suspected to be Split Lip that’s frequenting the area of the Great Divide Trail near Lake Louise, a popular spot for cross-country skiing.

“Special caution is recommended while travelling in this area,” according to Parks Canada’s website post. The agency did not provide a spokesperson for an interview.

With this is mind, de Ruyter said outdoor enthusiasts should still be prepared for bear encounters and carry bear spray.

“Be alert, don’t get complacent,” he said, noting people should travel in groups and make lots of noise.

de Ruyter said bear spray should be carried year-round, noting it’s also effective against wildlife such as cougars, wolves, coyotes and elk.

He said cougars have been known to follow deer, which is their main food source, into residential areas at this time of the year.

“People should be carrying bear spray year-round,” he said.

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