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Off-leash dog owner fined $350

The owner of an off-leash dog that chased a collared grizzly bear and its three cubs in Kananaskis Country last summer will have to pay a $350 fine as a result.
Bear 104 and her cubs.
Bear 104 and her cubs.

The owner of an off-leash dog that chased a collared grizzly bear and its three cubs in Kananaskis Country last summer will have to pay a $350 fine as a result.

Lei Zhao of Calgary entered a guilty plea in Canmore Provincial Traffic Court on March 8, through his lawyer Anne Wilson, to a single charge of having an off-leash dog in a provincial park.

Crown prosecutor Bev Shugg told Traffic Commissioner Handley the incident that led to the charge occurred on Aug. 30 near the Elpoca day use area in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park.

On that day, conservation officer Arian Spiteri and a grizzly bear technician were working with collared bear 104 and its three cubs as their presence in the area had resulted in a bear jam.

Shugg said the technician observed a golden retriever chase the collared bear and her cubs and reported the incident and a description of the dog owner's vehicle to Spiteri at about 2:15 p.m. that day.

"The dog picked up on the (bear) scent," Shugg said.

Wilson told court her client had mistakenly taken his dog off leash before reaching the parking lot of the day use area after recreating in the area.

The charges were originally set for trial on Feb. 8, but Zhao retained Wilson, who adjourned the matter to March because she did not have full disclosure, and was not aware of the trial date.

Wilson said the $350 fine was a reasonable resolution for her client.

Bear 104 is a 14 year old female grizzly and has produced four pairs of cubs since 2009. Of the eight, five have died and in some cases they have been killed by other bears. In 2015, two of her cubs were believed to be killed by a large male grizzly.

She was first captured and collared in 2006 and her home range includes the areas around Kananaskis Lakes, Highwood Pass and the Spray Valley.

Conservation officers in the past have referred to her as a "good producer" and they believe she uses habitat that is in more developed areas like Kananaskis Country in an effort to avoid aggressive male bears.


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