|Grizzly bear. (Steve Michel/Parks Canada Handout)
CALGARY - Playing in the Bow Valley comes with responsibilities, a wilderness group reminded visitors and residents after a family of bears was removed.
On Wednesday, a mother grizzly and her three female offspring -- a three-year-old cub and two yearlings -- were relocated after they failed to react to hazing techniques meant to move them away from Canmore.
“(Relocation) is not something we would normally condone,” said Sarah Elmeligi, of the Southern Alberta chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS).
Relocated bears have a smaller chance of survival, she said.
“It should be an absolute last resort and I think that in this case, it was a last resort.”
Before moving the bears, provincial government officials spent several days trying to coax the mother and her young away from Canmore, about 90 km west of Calgary, where they had wandered through neighbourhoods, Elmeligi said.
“She wasn’t wary of people at all, she was a very habituated bear,” she said, adding that while the bruins weren’t aggressive, they still posed a threat.
“It’s four grizzly bears walking around town, it’s a high-risk situation.”
Dave Ealey with Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development said the mother bruin is known to wildlife officials and has approached golf courses in Kananaskis in the past, though this is believed to be the first time she’s wandered into the Bow Valley. Ealey said their unsuccessful hazing techniques included firing rubber bullets and using other noisemakers and Karelian bear dogs to try to scare the bruins out of the area.
The mother and two yearlings were eventually moved north into the Rockies while the three-year-old was taken to Kananaskis.
Elmeligi said this is a good reminder for people in the Bow Valley to take proper precautions to avoid bear-human conflict.
“It really highlights how the ability to coexist with grizzly bears is up to all of us,” she said.
People in the area are reminded to carry bear spray and make noise while in the wild, avoid using iPods or other devices that might distract them from their surroundings, keep dogs on leashes and obey trail closures.
“Grizzly bear recovery is up to all of us,” Elmeligi said.