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Other factors at work in bear deaths, not just trains

Editor: The recent article on the grizzly bear The Boss mentioned that the CPR has killed 12 grizzly bears in BNP since 2000 and about 21 bears in the mountain national parks since 1990 – roughly one bear per year, not including the indirect deaths o

Editor:

The recent article on the grizzly bear The Boss mentioned that the CPR has killed 12 grizzly bears in BNP since 2000 and about 21 bears in the mountain national parks since 1990 – roughly one bear per year, not including the indirect deaths of dependent cubs.

My question is: if grizzly bear deaths on the CPR in BNP continue at the rate of one per year on average, then is the bear population sustainable or will they be gone from the park in 100 years?

The reason I ask is that when you look at railway timetables from 90 years ago, you discover that the number of trains travelling through Banff and Yoho National Parks and the speeds at which they were permitted to run have not changed significantly from today.

It would imply that bears have been hit at the same average rate for at least 90 years and probably more. Trains have been running through the valley for 125 years. Is it possible that something else has occurred more recently in the twentieth century (traffic volumes on the Trans-Canada or housing developments) that may have tipped the balance (if there ever was one) between railway mortality and reproduction rates?

I respect and support whole-heatedly those who work tirelessly to reduce the number of animals killed by trains. If the grizzly population in the valley is at risk of disappearing, I’m just wondering how much fault can be leveled on train counts and train speeds that have not significantly changed for 100 years.

Perhaps the current five-year research program will shed some light on this.

Dennis R. Letourneau

Canmore