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   Volume 82 - Issue 21   email:   $1.00   
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Quote of the Week
"Bear sightings are common for this time of year, because bears are waking up from hibernation. Eveyone needs to be bear aware."
- John Clarke  
Fish & Wildlife Officer   


Herald staff photo
A small black bear eats from a tree in Blairmore last summer.
With the number of bear sightings in the Crowsnest Pass on the rise this spring, Fish and Wildlife officers are encouraging people to take the proper precautions to help prevent danger to our furry friends.
In the recent past, there have been over five bear sightings in the Crowsnest Pass area, ranging from Bellevue to Coleman.
“Everyone needs to be bear aware,” said John Clarke of Fish and Wildlife. ”Bear sightings are common for this time of year, because they are waking up from hibernation.”
When bears come out of hibernation in the spring, they tend to venture out into the residential areas of the Pass in search of food. Bears often find food in residential areas by means of birdfeeders, garbage and trees.
Bears are food driven, and are usually on the search for food when they come into the communities. This is when they tend to bump into people.
“It is important to not get too excited when a bear is seen,” said Clarke. ”However, we do want people to call us when a bear is spotted, so we can ensure the bear won’t get into trouble.”
Clarke adds that it is also important to take the proper steps to prevent bears from coming into residential areas in the first place. This can be done by securing garbage, suspending bird and squirrel feeders until the autumn months, and temporarily removing outdoor compost, or replacing outdoor composts with indoor composts.
“It’s significant to know that grizzly bears are a threatened species,” said Loretta Schaufele, a member of Crowsnest Pass’ Bear Smart group.

Bear Smart is a provincally funded program that helps ensure that people and bears can safely coexist in areas where both homes overlap.
“We want to prevent a problem for the bear and prevent a problem for the people.
We want to keep the bears safe, and the people safe,” Schaufele said, adding that when Fish and Wildlife officers are forced to put down a bear, they are lowering the count of the bear population.
Part of the prevention involves education. Many do not know the harmful effects a small birdfeeder can bring.
Another part of the prevention is to get people to acknowledge that one bear in the community is a conflict for a whole community.
“Many people know about the bear problem, but they do not think it’s a problem for them,” said Schaufele. “If a bear gets habituated to eating a neighbours compost or garbage, someone could eventually end up hurt.”
Fish and Wildlife also want to remind people that it is not uncommon for bears to be spotted on walking trails, and it is important to prepare for a possible encounter. Any way to do this is by carrying bear spray.
“We are asking people to consider taking these precautions,” said Schaufele, adding that even suspending a birdfeeder until the autumn months could save the life of a bear or a human.
Bylaws are currently in the planning stages to manage bear lures and attracants. In 2005, an Alberta woman was killed by a grizzly bear in Canmore. The bear was also killed, and bylaws were implemented soon after the attack.
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