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Bear warnings for Kananaskis Country, Bow Lake

A warning has been issued for campgrounds near Kananaskis Lakes after a young male grizzly bear stepped on a tent with two people inside, while another warning is in place for the Bow Lake area of Banff National Park where two juvenile grizzlies are
A black bear munches on greenery along the road to Sunshine Village in Banff on Saturday (May 21).
A black bear munches on greenery along the road to Sunshine Village in Banff on Saturday (May 21).

A warning has been issued for campgrounds near Kananaskis Lakes after a young male grizzly bear stepped on a tent with two people inside, while another warning is in place for the Bow Lake area of Banff National Park where two juvenile grizzlies are hanging out.

Alberta Parks and Environment issued the warning for the Bolton Campground, Lower Lake Campground and North Interlakes Campground in Kananaskis Country on May 21 – and it will remain in place until further notice.

Provincial wildlife officials say the bear has since been captured, fitted with a GPS collar and moved a few kilometres away, but is still within his home range.

“It looks as if the bear had stepped on the side of the tent and then stepped off, leaving a couple of tear marks in the tent, and that was the sum total of the incident,” said John Paczkowski, a wildlife ecologist with Alberta Parks in Kananaskis Country.

“There were two people inside the tent. There were no attractants.”

The grizzly, known as bear 162, was orphaned at the age of one-and-a-half years, along with his female sibling, when another grizzly bear killed their mother.

“He has been eking out a living for the last two years as a motherless bear. He’s been staying in his mother’s home range,” said Paczkowski. “He’s put on some weight and we believe his sister is out there.”

The young bear, now in his fourth year, was caught within 15 minutes of a trap being set. He has been fitted with a GPS collar.

“We moved him a few kilometres down the road, but still within his home range and we’ve been monitoring him,” said Paczkowski.

Meanwhile, Parks Canada put the warning in place late last week for the area immediately around Num-Ti-Jah Lodge, north of Lake Louise, where two four- to five-year-old grizzlies are feeding on early season greenup in the area.

“This is a precautionary measure. There hasn’t been anything specific, or any behaviour of concern,” said Jon Stuart-Smith, a human-wildlife conflict specialist for Lake Louise, Yoho and Kootenay field unit.

“These two juvenile bears have been hanging around the area for the last week and we want to make sure visitors are taking extra precautions and are bear aware because they may encounter these two bears.”

This is not the first time a warning has been put in place for the two young bears. The bears have hung out in the area in early spring for the last few years.

“This is their normal home range,” said Stuart-Smith. “They’ve shown up a bit earlier this year than the last few years because greenup is earlier than usual.”

Stuart-Smith said the young bears have never been captured or handled so they are unsure of their sex.

“We think the mother was a bear numbered 9301 and she did have two cubs,” he said.

“We don’t know what happened to her. We haven’t seen her in the last few years, so we suspect she has died.”

Stuart-Smith said visitors are also reminded it’s illegal to feed wildlife.

“These bears seem quite comfortable in close proximity to people and the lodge,” he said.

“Part of this precaution we’re taking is to make sure we don’t end up with a situation where people are feeding bears.”

Visitors are reminded to make noise while hiking, be aware of their surroundings, keep pets on a leash at all times, carry bear spray and know how to use it.

Bear sightings in Banff National Park should be reported to 403-762-1470 and bear sightings in Kananaskis Country should be reported to 403-591-7755.


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