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Two more black bears being relocated from Canmore

Alberta Fish and wildlife officials say 22 black bears have been captured and relocated from Canmore and the Bow Valley so far this year, with traps set to catch at least two more.
20210927 BearTrap1
A bear trap in Canmore. GREG COLGAN RMO PHOTO

CANMORE – Two more black bears are being actively trapped to be shipped out of the mountain town.

Alberta Fish and wildlife officials say 22 black bears have been captured and relocated from Canmore and the Bow Valley so far this year, including five over the span of a week in late September.

Ina Lucila, communications advisor for Alberta Justice and Solicitor General, said there are at least an additional 13 bears that are getting into foods such as crabapples and mountain ash berries in the valley, noting an electric fence has been erected around a residence in Exshaw to keep bears away.

“Officers continue to monitor these bears," she said, noting the two bears still had not been trapped by Tuesday.

Fish and wildlife also dispelled persistent rumours in the community that a mama black bear and her two cubs were separated when relocated.

Lucila said officers received a report of a bear located in a trap in the Benchlands Terrace area on Sept. 29, adding that when they arrived, they found the female and a brown colour phase cub inside the trap and a black phase cub on the outside.

“The cub on the outside of the trap was immediately immobilized,” she said.

“The three bears were then reunited in a single trap, from which they were relocated together the next day.”

The bear family was relocated to the western foothills about 100 kilometres north of Canmore.

“We don’t disclose the exact locations where bears are relocated to, but in general, officers relocate bears from Canmore approximately 100 kms and two river systems away to prevent them from returning to the area,” Lucila said.

Several close encounters between bears and people in neighbourhoods all over Canmore this fall prompted a warning to residents to be extra vigilant and to remove all attractants such as fruits and berries from trees.

With this year being a bumper year for mountain ash, combined with a poor wild buffaloberry season, bears are coming into town to devour as many last-minute calories needed to get through winter hibernation.

Lucila said the female bear and her cubs were primarily accessing mountain ash berries, and were deemed habituated to the area following numerous calls from residents.

“Officers did receive reports about a sow with cubs being aggressive earlier in the summer, but there were no recent reports of the bears being aggressive within the week of their capture,” she said.

The practice of moving bears out of their home range is used by Alberta Fish and Wildlife as an alternative to killing bears on-site, but it can be a death sentence for bears trying to establish new territories due to competition with other bears, foraging for food or denning for winter.

Alberta Fish and Wildlife could not provide information on the success rate for black bear relocation.

The Bow Valley human-wildlife coexistence task force recommended continuing to research the effectiveness of bear translocations to ensure the best chance of success for animals moved out of their home range.

“Alberta Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Services does not generally monitor the success of the relocations for black bears,” said Lucia.