Bear Report - October 18, 2019

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(Banff National Park East Gate to Bow Valley Provincial Park)
For the period: October 11 to October 18, 2019


There continues to be bear activity in and around the Town of Canmore and these bears are being drawn into residential areas by people allowing fruit to accumulate on trees in their yards! Please do your part in keeping wildlife WILD and outside of residential areas by removing attractants such as fruit (both on trees and on the ground), grease on barbecues, pet food and garbage from your yard. By being proactive and removing thee attractants you could save a bear’s life!


Photo by Jamin Mulvey


Elk continue to be seen along trails around town, in open fields, school yards and playing fields which means you may have to choose an alternate route while out for a walk/run/ride. A reminder that it is elk rutting season and that male elk are particularly protective of nearby female elk. They may become aggressive towards anything that comes too close. Give plenty of space to elk (at least 30 metres or 3 school bus lengths), never get between a male elk and a female elk, and be sure to keep pets on-leash. If an elk does charge be prepared to use your bear spray. Try to move behind a large object (e.g. car, large tree) and keep the object between you and the elk. Parents should have a conversation with their children about giving wildlife lots of space and calmly leaving the area if they see elk or other wildlife on their commute to school.


Halloween is around the corner and with that, pumpkins are starting to make an appearance. Please be proactive and remember to keep pumpkins inside of windows and NOT outside on your doorstep. Pumpkins are a wildlife attractant to all sorts of animals, not just bears.

Photo by Parks Canada

Photo by Parks Canada


You might think that your pumpkin is safe on a balcony, far off the ground, but bears are very good climbers. Check out this video of an ingenious bear climbing up onto a balcony.


Keep your doorstep bear free by placing pumpkins inside windows


There continues to be a bear closure for the area surrounding Cougar Creek, from BURNCO pit area to Harvie Heights due to a grizzly bear sow with cubs making contact with a hiker resulting in the deployment of bear spray. The closure includes but is not limited to the following trails: Cougar Creek, Grotto Mountain, Horseshoe Loop, Lady MacDonald, Echo Canyon, Montane Traverse, Johnny’s Trail, Meander Trail, Tidbits Quarry, Harvie Heights Ridge Traverse, Mount Charles Stewart and Outlier (see map below).

The bear closure described above was put in place to give a grizzly bear sow and her cubs some space after she made contact with a hiker during a defensive encounter involving an off-leash dog. Fortunately neither the hiker, the dog nor the bears were seriously harmed during the incident but this is yet another example of how important it is to KEEP DOGS ON A LEASH and CARRY BEAR SPRAY! More details can be found in this article.

To reduce the risk of encounters with wildlife:

  • Make lots of noise in order to alert them to your presence.

  • Travel in tight groups, keeping children close by, and try to avoid hiking at dusk, dawn or at night.

  • Be aware of your surroundings (look and listen for wildlife and their signs, including tracks and scat) and be sure to check behind you while on the trails to make sure there are no animals following you. That includes not wearing earbuds/headphones, which will limit your ability to hear approaching wildlife.

  • KEEP DOGS ON-LEASH and remember to pick up after your dogs as their feces can act as an attractant for bears.

  • Do not leave any garbage or food items that have a smell outside as they may attract wildlife.

  • Carry bear spray YEAR-ROUND in an easily accessible location, know how to use it and be prepared to use it as it could save your life as well as your pet’s life! Bear spray has also been shown to be effective at deterring other wildlife such as cougars, wolves, coyotes and elk, and it should be carried along well-traveled trails in and around town. Close encounters with bears can happen in seconds so you need to be ready.

It is hunting season. Please be aware of your surroundings and stay clear of dead animals. Hunters should always carry and use bear spray as the first line of defense, even if they are carrying a gun.


Bear Closure - Mount Lipsett Area, not including the Day Use Area, due to a grizzly bear feeding on a carcass.

Bear Closure - The area surrounding Cougar Creek, from BURNCO pit area to Harvie Heights due to a grizzly bear sow with cubs making contact with a hiker, resulting in the deployment of bear spray.

Bear Closure - Rockwall Trail and the meadow located southeast of the Peter Lougheed Discovery Centre and extending 100 meters into timber around the meadow due to multiple bears in the area.

Bear Warning - Bow River Campground due to a black bear in the area.

*Bears are not only found in closure or warning areas. You should always remain alert while walking, hiking, running and biking, and remember that bears can be encountered anytime, anywhere!

Here is a list of some Annual Closures in Kananaskis Country.

A complete list of all warnings and closures is available here for anyone visiting the Bow Valley, Kananaskis Country and Alberta Parks.

A complete list of all warnings and closures is available here for Banff National Park.

For more information on areas in the Bow Valley frequented by bears at this time of year visit our human-bear conflict summary map.

The information above is based upon a compilation of bear information provided by government agencies and unconfirmed sightings reported by the public over the last week. It is not intended to be used as a real-time, complete record of where bears are in the valley.


Some bears, like the bears in Katmai National Park in Alaska, get so fat from all the fish they eat that they can barely walk. Every fall for the past five years, the Park has celebrated Fat Bear Week and this year the winner for the fattest bear is Holly (#435)! You can read more about the contest here.

435 Holly, NPS Photos by N. Boak and L. Carter

Bears need a healthy fat layer before they go into their deep sleep; it helps them to stay warm and provides calories to survive the winter. If they don’t gain enough fat reserves, they may wake up early in the spring or during the winter in a desperate attempt to find more food. If that fails, the bear may face starvation. Hopefully the bears in our area are getting nice and fat, ready to make it through the winter ahead.


Report any sightings of a bear, cougar, wolf or any aggressive wildlife in Kananaskis Country or the Bow Valley to Kananaskis Emergency Services at 403.591.7755