BANFF – Banff wildlife specialists are busy trying to keep a couple of black bears alive.
A young black bear that travelled downtown Banff was recently hazed out of town after it was feasting on fruit trees and bushes, while another bruin struck by a vehicle is being closely monitored as it tries to recover.
Blair Fyten, a human-wildlife coexistence specialist for Banff National Park, said a black bear was struck in the westbound lanes along the 90-km/h Trans-Canada Highway about two kilometres east of the water tower on Aug. 29.
“The bear made it up and over the fence and then lied on the other side for quite some time,” said Fyten, noting a Parks Canada employee witnessed the accident and called it in.
“We got geared up and went up there, and by then he’d kind of moved off into the trees.”
After quickly locating the bear, wildlife officials darted the animal to assess his injuries.
“There were no broken limbs, but we could feel this chip of bone about the size of a loonie moving a little bit around in his shoulder,” said Fyten.
“There was probably a tip broken off the shoulder blade. We put a collar on him so we could see if he got up and moved off and was going to be alright.”
The injured bear didn’t move much over the next three days, but eventually recovered enough to get up and move around on the Fairholme bench towards Johnson Lake for a few days.
A week later, Parks got a call about another bear on the Trans-Canada Highway on the wrong side of the wildlife exclusion fence.
“Low and behold if it wasn’t him,” said Fyten, adding staff hazed him off the highway. “He was well enough to climb the fence again.”
As of Tuesday (Sept. 10), the bear was hanging out on the east end of Tunnel Mountain. He’d managed to cross the highway again, either by using one of the underpasses, or climbing the wildlife fence again.
“He’s just hanging out and staying out of sight for the most part,” Fyten said. “Hopefully, he won’t come into town looking for food.”
Banff has already had at least one bear in town in search of food, such as berry bushes and fruit, trying to fatten up ahead of hibernation.
On Aug. 31, a bear was spotted by the Banff Community High School parking lot on Beaver Street.
Fyten said the bear was unknown to staff, but was showing signs of habituation.
“It got into the centre of town. We lost it for a while and couldn’t find it, but an hour later there was a black bear reported in a backyard,” he said.
“When staff got to the backyard there were several berry bushes and a crabapple tree and the bear was observed eating on some of the fruit.”
Wildlife specialists hazed the bruin out of town and it disappeared for a couple of days.
On Sept. 3, the bear tried to make its way back into town on two occasions, but it was quickly hazed out again. Later that day, it crossed Banff Avenue near the Inns of Banff.
“Staff went looking for him and we never did find him. Since then, he’s been totally off the radar,” Fyten said.
“That’s a good thing because it was looking like we might have to capture this bear and put a collar on him just so we could manage him a little better.”
Residents and visitors are reminded to securely store all garbage and recycling. Residents and businesses are encouraged to remove any fruit trees or shrubs from their property.
“It’s so important that bears do not find anything in town,” said Fyten.