Grizzly hit by vehicle on highway 40


“We can’t really control what bears are doing, but we can control what we are doing – we can try to make sure the roads, corridors and parks are as safe as possible for wildlife.

KANANASKIS – Alberta Parks is calling for more caution on the part of visitors after Grizzly Bear 152 was struck by a vehicle Thursday, May 13.

The 10-year-old grizzly bear is the mother of two cubs. She was struck by a vehicle on Highway 40 in Kananaskis. Although she appears to have been injured in the crash, she moves well and actively feeds on vegetation.

Staff continue to monitor and assess grizzly bear 152 and its health.

The animal is one of the many grizzly bears and black bears that inhabit the K-country, said John Paczkowski, senior ecologist for Alberta Environment and Parks in the Kananaskis region.

“Bear season is on and the bears are out – the bears are out of their dens and fully active in Kananaskis Country and Alberta,” Paczkowski said.

In Kananaskis alone, there are at least 14 active grizzly bears, including females and cubs, as Parks is aware. Paczkowski added that there were an equal or greater number of black bears in the area.

Human-bear interactions pose a risk in the spring, as much of Kananaskis is still covered in snow and mud. These conditions cause bears to migrate to lower elevations which turn green as spring sets in.

“All the bears go down to the bottom of the valley where the first available food starts to emerge,” Paczkowski said. “The chances of feeding and feeding are really limited… They could be active at any time of the day.

The sides of Highway 40 are the perfect space for vegetation growth, which in turn attracts bears.

This is a critical time for bears and Parks is asking people visiting the area to obey speed limits and obey all road signs.

He added that if a bear is spotted, Parks discourages people from stopping to take photos.

“Please don’t stop and certainly don’t get out of your vehicle for a closer picture… And never try to feed a bear or any wild animals,” Paczkowski said.

Kananaskis has seen an influx of visitors over the past year who may not be familiar with the scenery. Last year alone, more than 5.4 million people entered the region. Every weekend the park can see thousands of people visiting and there is a need to ensure that people are educated about bear safety and safe access to wilderness areas.

Before heading to Kananaskis, Paczkowski said, he encourages people to research bears, bear safety and general safety when in wild areas.

“Once you get out of your car, you are in bear country,” Paczkowski said. “Be ready.”

Paczkowski said that for those who hike it is important to be alert, listen and look for signs of wildlife, carry easily accessible bear spray, keep children nearby, keep dogs on a leash, travel in groups and make noise to avoid having a surprise bear. meet.

Visitors can also visit the Alberta Parks website for potential warnings and site closures due to bear sightings.

If you see a bear, contact Kananaskis Emergency Services at 403-591-7755.

Nick de Ruyter, director of the Wild Smart program for the Bow Valley Biosphere Institute, said he was unhappy to see a bear hitting on Highway 40.

Almost every year, they see or hear about at least one bear hit by a vehicle, de Ruyter said, especially in the spring.

“There are so many people on the road and so many people driving fast, so it’s just a recipe for disaster,” said de Ruyter.

There is an impulse to be aware of this, drive responsibly, and keep an eye out for wildlife at all times of the day.

“Always slow down if you see wild animals along the road, because you never know if they will cross or if one of them is crossing if others will follow,” de Ruyter.

One of the most important things you can do is not stop to spot wildlife on the side of the road.

When several people stop to take a photo, it can cause “bear traffic jams”, stressing the wildlife, which in turn can cause animals to cross the road, increasing the risk of them being struck by. a vehicle.

While education remains important, it may also be necessary to enforce the law to ensure wildlife is treated with respect. Together, education and law enforcement create the opportunity to ensure that people play by the rules for the benefit of the landscape.

“Starting with education is key, but sometimes you have to combine that education with law enforcement to get people to play by the rules,” de Ruyter said.

It is a busy time in Kananaskis as it is bear mating season and deer and elk calving season.

“There are a lot of baby animals running around and they have no idea because they’re just born, it’s just another way for them to get into trouble,” de Ruyter said. “It is really important to respect the speed limits, not to drive too fast and not to stress them [the animals] outside.”

A bear encounter can happen to anyone, whether it’s a first-time visitor or a longtime expert who has been visiting bear country for decades.

“No one is immune. Everyone should be prepared for these possible bear encounters and do everything in their power to reduce the risk, ”said de Ruyter. “We can’t really control what bears are doing, but we can control what we are doing – we can try to make sure the roads, corridors and parks are as safe as possible for wildlife.

The Bow Valley Biosphere Institute is a non-profit organization that relies on donations and sponsors to provide education and awareness programs for those who head out into nature to ensure the safety of people and wildlife.

Visit albertaparks.ca or wildsmart.ca to learn more about bear safety.

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