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 30 to September 6, 2019
There continues to be bear activity on both sides of the Bow Valley in residential areas, including the MD of Bighorn hamlets, and bears have recently been seen feeding in fruit trees.
At this time of year buffaloberries are starting to dry up, so bears will be searching for other food sources. Berry bushes and fruit trees are the main attractants drawing bears into residential and developed areas in town, which brings wildlife and humans close together and creates a concern for public and wildlife safety. This issue is highlighted in this recent article about a black bear that was relocated last weekend from a busy tourist area in Canmore.
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 that the fruit is removed. Click here for more information about fruit trees and bears.
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. Click here to view and download the bylaw.
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. More information and details about how to participate can be found on their website by clicking on this link.
Just in case you missed it, you can listen to Mayor John Borrowman on last week’s Mountain Insider talk about the revised Wildlife Attractant Bylaw and the Voluntary Fruit Tree Removal program.
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.
The picture below shows a close up of some of the common fruits/berries that can attract bears into residential areas. 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 the Biosphere Institute in Canmore to pick up the fruit picking equipment.
Reports have already started coming in of people encountering elk on the trails. The elk rutting season has begun and will last until mid-October. 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 a 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 for the south side of the valley near Canmore has been lifted. A reminder that bears are not only found in warning and closure areas! If you are recreating anywhere in the Bow valley be prepared and on the lookout for wildlife as they can be encountered anywhere at anytime. Try to avoid surprising wildlife by making lots of noise in order to alert them to your presence. When bears and other wildlife are surprised they can respond defensively as they may feel threatened. To reduce the risk of encounters with wildlife:
Travel in tight groups.
Be aware of your surroundings (look and listen for wildlife and their signs, i.e. tracks and scat). Avoid wearing earbuds, and slow down, especially near blind hills and 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.
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, and it should be carried along well-traveled trails in and around town.
Hunting season has started. 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.
CURRENT WARNINGS AND CLOSURES
Bear Warning - Bow River Campground due to a black bear in the area.
Bear Warning - Willowrock Campground due to a black bear in the area.
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 - 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 - 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
With more negative wildlife related stories in the news this past week including a grizzly bear killed on the highway and a black bear that was relocated (just to name a few), it highlights the importance of continued education in reducing negative human-wildlife interactions! Last week we visited artsPlace and spoke with their Animal Lovers Summer Camp about wildlife safety, coexistence, and how difficult it can be for a bear trying to survive in the Bow Valley. To better educate residents and visitors, the children created some amazing posters with some important messages for the people in the valley in hopes of improving coexistence and keeping wildlife and people safe. Thanks so much to the kids for their enthusiasm and please enjoy some samples of their work:
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