Bears are coming out of the dens in Banff. Parks Canada confirmed the first sighting of a grizzly bear on Saturday (March 24) along the Bow Valley Parkway by Backswamp.
Bears are coming out of the dens in Banff.
Parks Canada confirmed the first sighting of a grizzly bear on Saturday (March 24) along the Bow Valley Parkway by Backswamp.
It's believed to be male grizzly bear 122, also known as The Boss - the largest, toughest and most dominant grizzly bear in Banff, Yoho and Kootenay national parks.
"We believe it's grizzly bear 122. We can't be 100 per cent sure, but the locals who saw it suspect it was him," said Blair Fyten, human-wildlife conflict specialist for Banff National Park.
"He was observed a couple of times along the 1A. One of the sightings was in the Backswamp area and the other sighting was a little closer to Lake Louise. It could be the same bear."
There's nothing unusual about large male grizzlies emerging from hibernation at this time of year, but when they do leave their dens in March and the weeks ahead, food will be scarce.
The bruins typically spend spring searching for food in the valley bottoms - the same place where people love to be outdoors. They don't move to higher elevations until snow disappears and vegetation greens up later in the season.
Bear 122 typically heads to the train tracks in search of animal carcasses or grain.
"We can say they are fairly food stressed at this time of year and everything is covered and there's no vegetation out yet," said Fyten. "These bears tend to cruise the tracks looking for carcasses and a little bit of grain that may show up."
Fyten said it's vital to make sure all garbage and food is properly stored.
"These bears are actively seeking food and, since there's not much out on the landscape at this time of year, we don't want to have any attractants for bears," he said.
Parks Canada reminds people to travel in bigger groups, make lots of noise, carry bear spray and know how to use it, and keep dogs on leash or consider leaving them at home.
"There's people still cross-country skiing and you don't usually anticipate you're going to bump into a bear while skiing, but this year with the snow, it's quite possible," said Fyten.
Last year, the first confirmed sighting of bear 122 was March 22 along Bow Valley Parkway near Castle Mountain. First reported sightings of him were March 5, 2016, March 19, 2015 and March 16, 2014.
Female bears, especially those with cubs, will show up later into April and May.
Parks Canada asks that all bear sightings be reported to dispatch at 403-762-1470.
Grizzly bear sighting in Banff National Park 2018-03-24