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Parks monitoring grain clean-up from derailed CP train

BANFF – Parks Canada is monitoring the clean-up of canola grain spilled by a derailed CP Rail train on Thursday (Feb. 28) in the middle of prime grizzly bear habitat. CP Rail confirmed Friday morning (March 1) that the derailment occurred at 4:30 p.
Bear 122, also known as the boss, has been wandering the tracks searching for grains and ungulates this spring.
Bear 122, also known as the Boss, is one of the first grizzly bears to emerge from its den each spring in Banff National Park. A train derailment on Thursday (Feb. 28) has resulted in a grain spill along a stretch of the railway line he is known to frequent.
BANFF – Parks Canada is monitoring the clean-up of canola grain spilled by a derailed CP Rail train on Thursday (Feb. 28) in the middle of prime grizzly bear habitat. CP Rail confirmed Friday morning (March 1) that the derailment occurred at 4:30 p.m. the day before, no injuries were reported and no dangerous goods involved. The incident resulted in 21 cars leaving the track – 11 of which were empty and 10 containing grain, which has been spilled. Parks Canada released a statement on Friday afternoon in response to the derailment, which occurred near the Backswamp area, seven kilometres west of the townsite and adjacent to the Bow Valley Parkway and known grizzly bear territory. Parks stated it is working closely with CP Rail to determine the extent of the clean-up operation needed, as the grain is a wildlife attractant.

"The grain will need to be removed thoroughly and in a timely manner, as we can anticipate grizzly bears to be emerging in the next two to four weeks and they will be attracted to the spilled canola," wrote Parks Canada in its statement. "Parks Canada staff are monitoring the scene to determine if wildlife are accessing the site.

"Over the next few days, Parks Canada will work with CP to identify goals and appropriate strategies for mitigating the impacts of the spilled grain on wildlife in Banff National Park. Key strategies will include a thorough clean up, electric fencing to exclude wildlife from the attractant, and additional cleanup as snow melt exposes undetected spillage this spring."

Parks stated the derailment was near the river, but none of the canola grain spilled into the Bow. However, several mature trees were knocked down onto the river ice. The Bow Valley Parkway remains closed between Johnston Canyon and Fireside day use area to facilitate heavy equipment work by CP Rail to remove the damaged rail cars and begin cleanup of the spilled grain. The location of the grain spill is in an area frequented by bear 122, also known as The Boss. The bear is a large dominant male that is known to roam the CP Rail line as part of his territory. A joint study between CP Rail, Parks Canada and University of Alberta looked into the issue of grizzly bear mortality along the rail line. Between 2000 and 2017, 14 grizzlies died on railway tracks in Banff and Yoho National Parks. One of the biggest concerns around mortality rates has been the presence of spilled grain from railway cars along the line as a food attractant for bears. Bears have been seen feeding on grain and grain has been found in the stomachs of bears killed on the tracks during necropsies. During the five year study that concluded in 2017, bear 122 was one of two bears that spent the most amount of time on the railway tracks and he is often the first bear to emerge from his den in the spring. The derailment on Thursday is the third in two months. In early January, 16 cars derailed inside the Spiral Tunnels east of Field B.C. and on Feb. 4 three CP Rail employees were killed when the train they were on left the tracks near the Spiral Tunnels. All three incidents remain under investigation by CP Rail and the Transportation Safety Board. "CP takes each incident extremely seriously and conducts a full investigation in each instance," wrote media relations advisor Salem Woodrow.  

Tanya Foubert

About the Author: Tanya Foubert

Tanya Foubert started as a news reporter at the Rocky Mountain Outlook in 2006. She won the Canadian Community Newspaper Award for best news story for her coverage of the 2013 flood. In December 2018, she became editor of the Outlook.
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