September 17th, 2014 ~ Vol. 84 No. 36
Fish and Wildlife report
very active bear season
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
stock photo
Bear in Fish and Wildlife bear trap.
Pass Herald Reporter
Though an uncertified teacher, students of Horace Allen School (HAS) received a lesson in wildlife management from a small black bear on Sept. 15.
The bear had been caught in Bellevue the previous evening and brought to show students the importance of managing wildlife attractants. The bear was later released a safe distance from the municipality, says Fish and Wildlife officer John Clarke.
Students at Isabelle Sellon School (ISS) were treated to a similar lesson from a different bear on Sept. 10.
A host of factors including last week’s snowstorm, a bad berry season and the mishandling of wildlife attractants are creating one of the most active bear seasons in memory, says Clarke.
“This is nuts,” says Clarke. “There are no berries. The bears are starving so they’re going wherever they need to go to find food.”
Since Sept. 9, Blairmore Fish and Wildlife has received dozens of complaints, trapped and relocated almost a dozen of the animals, including four grizzlies, and has shot a bear in Lundbreck.
Officers had been trying to capture the Lundbreck bear for several days but the animal seemed more attracted to the community’s garbage than Fish and Wildlife’s baited traps, says Clarke.
“That bear was going to get into that garbage no matter what,” says Clarke. “There was no chance of getting him in a trap after that. The bear paid the price for people not being bear smart.”
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At the time of publication, Fish and Wildlife officers were attempting to trap another three bears in the municipality.
Clarke compared the current situation to a revolving door where every time officers relocate a bear, two more wander into town and speculated that smaller, less dominant bears were entering the community because their larger colleagues had already been trapped and relocated.
With bear activity expected to increase until the end of October, Clare is urging residents to remove wildlife attractants from their properties.
“If you have apple trees, you will have a bear in your yard,” he says.
According to Tyler McClure, program associate at the Biosphere Institute of the Bow Valley, the active bear season might be explained by a shortage of berries.
This has not been a good year for berries, says McClure. Buffalo berries in particular, a favourite food source for both grizzlies and black bears, appear to be in short supply.
According to the WildSmart Community Program, In the Bow Valley, buffalo berries ripen in mid-July, and make up a large part of the bear diet until late August. Crop size fluctuates greatly from year to year. A grizzly bear can eat up to 20,000 berries a day.
“The animals have had a food stressed situation this summer,” says McClure. “It’s a difficult time of year for them because they have to be constantly eating.”
It is difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of the berry shortage, but McClure speculates last year’s floods might have affected the crop.
September 17th ~ Vol. 84 No. 36
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