Did you know that WildSmart is a program of the Biosphere Institute, a local charity? Our work relies entirely on donations and sponsors. If you would like to support our community-based efforts to promote human-wildlife coexistence, please donate!
BEAR ACTIVITY SUMMARY FOR THE BOW VALLEY
(Banff National Park East Gate to Bow Valley Provincial Park)
For the period: August 23 to August 30, 2019
Labour day weekend is here and bears have made the headlines this past week! Black bears continue to be seen in residential areas and backyards on both sides of the valley, in and around Canmore and the MD of Bighorn hamlets.
A hiker was bitten by a black bear in Lake Louise last week. You can read more in this article. The bear appeared to be stressed by all the people that were not giving it enough space. The hiker was not carrying bear spray which serves as a reminder that people really need to be aware of and prepared for encounters with wildlife by carrying bear spray, even along well-traveled and busy trails. Remember to carry bear spray in an easily accessible location, know how to use it and be prepared to use it! Close encounters with bears can happen in seconds so you need to be ready. Bear spray has also been shown to be effective at deterring other wildlife such as cougars, wolves, coyotes and elk.
There have been reports of bears in yards, and berry bushes and fruit trees are the main attractants drawing them into residential areas. These attractants bring wildlife and humans close together, creating a concern for public and wildlife safety. The best practice is to remove fruit bearing trees and shrubs from your yard, however if you decide to keep your fruit bearing trees and shrubs, please ensure the fruit is removed. For more information about fruit trees and bears please read this informational page provided by Alberta BearSmart.
The Town of Canmore recently amended their wildlife attractant bylaw and people can now be fined for letting fruit and berries accumulate on trees and on the ground in their yards. The minimum fines have also increased, as is discussed in this recent article. Click here to download the bylaw. The main amendment is in section 3.2 which now reads: No person or owner of a parcel of land shall permit a wildlife attractant, including but not limited to fruit from a crabapple or mountain ash tree or shepherdia (buffaloberry) bush, or otherwise located on a parcel of land, to accumulate on the tree, bush or ground.
Help keep yourself, your family and the bears safe by removing fruits and berries from your yards.
If you are renting or live in a condo complex, please contact your landlord or condo board/association and notify them if there are trees with fruits and berries on the property so they can arrange to either remove the trees or ensure the fruit is removed. If you can’t reach that fruit up in the tree, no problem! We have pruning shears and extendable fruit pickers that can be borrowed free of charge to allow residents to remove fruit and berry bushes from their property. Please drop by WildSmart at the Biosphere Institute in Canmore to pick up the fruit picking equipment.
Be prepared and on the lookout for bears while you recreate as bears continue to be very focused on eating, so it is especially important to make lots of noise in order to alert them to your presence. When bears are surprised they can respond defensively as they may feel threatened. With this in mind, please remember to GIVE WILDLIFE LOTS OF SPACE! If you must take pictures, take them from a distance and do not harass wildlife. To reduce the risk of bear encounters:
Travel in tight groups.
Be aware of your surroundings and have good situational awareness (look and listen for wildlife and their signs, i.e. tracks and scat). Trail runners and bikers need to be extra loud when travelling quickly and in areas where sight-lines are limited. Avoid wearing earbuds, and slow down, especially around blind corners.
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, remnants of food or items that have a smell outside as they may attract wildlife. For those that are going camping on this last long weekend of the summer, remember to store those bear attractants listed above in your vehicle or hard-sided trailer. If you are heading out into the backcountry, plan your campsite accordingly. The Bear-muda Triangle shows the proper separation of cooking area, tent site and food storage.
The elk rutting season has begun and will last until mid-October. Click here for more information Male elk are particularly protective of the female elk they are with. Give plenty of space to elk (more than 30 meters), never get between a male elk and the female elk, be sure to keep pets on-leash and if an elk charges, place a large object (e.g. car, large tree) between you and the elk. Never approach elk to take pictures up close as they are wild animals that need their space and they can react unpredictably!
The Bear Warning on the south side of the valley near Canmore remains in place due to numerous bears feeding on berries in the area. This warning area includes Peaks of Grassi, Quarry Lake and the off-leash dog park, Rundle Forebay, Grassi Lakes, and extends through the Canmore Nordic Centre to the Banff National Park boundary. Remember that bears are not only found in areas with warnings and closures and can be encountered anywhere, anytime in bear country.
CURRENT WARNINGS AND CLOSURES
Cougar Warning - Bow Valley Provincial Park Campground and the immediate surrounding area due to cougar activity.
Bear Closure - Bill Milne Trail from Mount Kidd Residence Road to Highway 40 due to a bear feeding in the area.
Bear Closure - Black Prince Cirque Trail to Warpsite Lake and Black Prince Day Use Area due to a grizzly bear feeding on a carcass.
Bear Warning - Spray Lakes West Campground & Old Goat Glacier Trail due to multiple black bears feeding in the area, including a sow with two young of the year cubs.
Bear Warning - Upper Kananaskis Lake Circuit, including the junction to Aster Lake to the top of the headwall due to multiple bears feeding in the area.
Bear Warning - Paddy's Flat Campground due to black bears grazing on Buffalo Berries throughout the campground.
Bear Warning - South side of the Bow River in Canmore, including Quarry Lake Day Use and dog park, Peaks of Grassi, Grassi Lakes, Canmore Nordic Centre and area trails due to numerous bears feeding on berries.
Bear Warning - Mt. Kidd RV Park Campground including campsites, trails and the permanent house trailer park due to a black bear frequenting the area.
Bear Closure - The area south of Mount Kidd RV Park F-Loop bordered by the Kananaskis River on the west and Hwy 40 on the east, plus the powerline in this region due to multiple bears feeding on berries in the area.
Bear Warning - Moose Loop in West Bragg Creek due to a black bear feeding on a carcass.
Bear Warning - Troll Falls, Hay Meadows, and Stoney Trail due to multiple bears frequenting the area.
Fox Warning - Sundance Lodges, campground and area due to a food conditioned red fox in the area. The fox has been approaching campers attempting to gain access to human food left in firepits, on picnic tables and in cooking areas.
Bear Warning - Grassi Lakes Day Use Area and surrounding trails due to a black bear sow with cubs frequenting the area.
Bear Warning - All trails and area at the Canmore Nordic Centre Provincial Park from highway 742 to the meadow due to a black bear sow with cubs in the area.
Bear Warning - Kananaskis Village hotels and staff housing areas including the Village Rim trail, baseball diamond, and nearby circulation trails due to multiple black bears with cubs frequenting the area.
Bear Warning - Lower Lake Campground due to multiple grizzly bears in the area.
Bear Warning - The William Watson Lodge facility and surrounding trails due to a grizzly bear with two cubs frequenting 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.
AND NOW SOME PAWS-ITIVE NEWS
In an effort to reduce conflict between bears and people in Canmore, the Town of Canmore is running a Voluntary Fruit Tree Removal Program. Homeowners in the priority areas identified on the map below are invited to express their interest in participating in the program which will cover 50% of the cost of removal to a maximum of $300 if they use an arborist or tree removal service to remove their tree. Homes in Priority 1 areas will be targeted first, followed by Priority 2, and finally any areas outside the priority zones. More information and details about how to participate can be found here on their website.
Please click here for more information about non-fruit bearing tree options and other recommended plant species for landscaping in the Bow Valley.
Please remember BEARS CAN BE ENCOUNTERED ANYWHERE, ANYTIME!
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