A woman has been fined $300 after her off-leash dog chased and harassed a mother grizzly and her three cubs in Banff.
On May 17, at 2 p.m. Brigitte Hopkins of Banff had her dog off-leash not far from her home. A witness saw the dog harass the grizzly and cubs and reported it to the Banff National Park Warden service. The responding warden questioned Hopkins, who admitted her dog was off-leash and out of sight. She apologized to the warden, who charged her with failing to maintain physical control of her dog. Luckily, neither the dog nor the bears were injured in the encounter.
“I was a stone’s throw from my backyard,” Hopkins said after pleading guilty in Canmore Provincial Court. “ I feel bad for what’s happened.”
Judge Judy Shriar said she’s fined similar cases close to the maximum amount allowed. Under the parks act, fines for off-leash animals range from $50 to $350.
“Grizzly bears are one of the most dangerous animals in the park. Even though you admitted guilt right away, this strikes me as being in the high end of the range,” Judge Shriar said.
Hopkins received a warning from Parks Canada for having her dog off-leash in 2010 when it was caught harassing an elk.
The fine is the third in a month for off-leash dogs in Banff National Park.
In other Parks court news, Cody Lank was fined $100 after violating the Moraine Lake Road closure on May 19.
Lank pled guilty after his blue Toyota Corolla was found parked at the lake during the closure. He had driven around several closure signs to go ski touring with his friends. When stopped by a warden upon leaving, he said the closure “wasn’t a big deal” and that “people do it every year.”
Lank apologized to the court and said he made a poor decision.
“Historically the road is open on the long weekend. We went up at 4 a.m. and thought it would be open by the time we came back,” Lank said. “I was pretty sure (the closure) was not for a safety issue, but it was the wrong decision.”