October 28th, 2015 ~ Vol. 85 No. 42
Fish and Wildlife moves bear
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Ezra Black Photo
A female grizzly sedated in a culvert trap before being processed by Fish and Wildlife officers and Bear Smart volunteers.
Pass Herald Reporter
Growling and peering through the tiny holes of her culvert trap, the adult female grizzly had been captured last week near a cattle feedlot in Pincher Creek trying to fatten herself up – on grain, not beef – for a long winter’s hibernation.

On Oct. 21, she was brought to a Fish and Wildlife warehouse west of Coleman for processing. Four milligrams of sedative, delivered via dart gun to her shoulder by Fish and Wildlife Officer John Clarke, put her to sleep and it took several Bear Smart volunteers to haul her out of the long tubular trap.

For safety’s sake she was handcuffed and then she was given a full physical; her gender was established, she was weighed, her paws and skin were checked for injury, her teeth were checked for wear. The bear's ear was tagged and a DNA sample was taken so that the bear could be identified if she was ever recaptured in the future. Finally, she was given a drug that would reverse the effect of the sedative and put back in the trap to sleep it off. She was released back into the wild the next day at an undisclosed location.

Crowsnest Pass Bear Smart Association’s long-term goal is to reduce human-wildlife conflict. Part of that means conditioning resident bears to stay out of town but natural attrition, poachers and municipal bylaw violators make this a difficult task.
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Crowsnest Pass Bear Smart Association President Christy Pool has spent nine years helping the community live peacefully with its bears. Holding telemetry equipment that tracks the movement of the groups’ three monitored bears – two of which are family groups – Poole told the story of one resident bear named Bear 11.

Bear 11 has established a home range. The resident bear will guard its territory and hopefully keep other bears out of the community. Females make the best resident bears because males tend to wander during the mating season.

Clarke uses bear bangers, a pair of Karelian Bear Dogs and other techniques to teach resident bears to fear humans, dogs and residential structures.

Establishing resident bears is not easy, said Pool. Bears 1 through 10 have all died of some unknown cause, been poached, hunted or disappeared. The battery life on tracking devices dies after about 700 days.

It’s been a busy season for the Pass’ Bear Smart Association volunteers. The group and Fish and Wildlife has dealt with about 27 black bears and three grizzlies. Nine bears were relocated this year. Thankfully, Clarke said the local population should be hibernating soon.
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The Pass became a Bear Smart community in May 2006 in response to a government initiative to reduce human-bear conflicts. More residential developments between communities and Highway 3 all pose significant barriers to wildlife movement and the area’s growing popularity with outdoor enthusiasts caused a rise in human-bear conflicts.

The citizen-led Bear Smart Committee was originally established with support from Alberta Fish and Wildlife. Bear Smart strategies were incorporated into municipal bylaws to address proper management of garbage and other animal attractants.

The community’s 19 Bear Smart volunteers are continuing campaigns to purchase bear-resistant garbage bins, encourage residents to remove fruit from ornamental trees and make regular patrols of the community in search of nuisance bears.

“I just retired from the army and it seemed like something I wanted to get involved with,” said Bear Smart volunteer Brad Edmondson. “For me it’s both community protection and conservation.”
October 28th ~ Vol. 85 No. 42
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