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Black bear trapped, shipped out of Canmore

“Bears coming into residential areas to feed on unnatural food sources is a public safety risk because they are easily habituated and may defend the food source."

CANMORE – A black bear has been trapped and relocated out of Canmore following a spike in bear activity in residential neigbourhoods.

A spokesperson for Alberta Fish and Wildlife says two bear traps were deployed in Canmore, adding one black bear was captured on Monday (Sept. 23) and released to an undisclosed area away from town on Tuesday (Sept. 24).

“Officers are currently reassessing the plan for the remaining trap,” said Ina Lucila, a communications advisor for Alberta Justice and Solicitor General, in an email.

The circumstances that led to the bear’s relocation are unknown because the department didn’t grant the Outlook’s interview request, but decisions to intervene are guided by provincial animal response guidelines.

Over the past two weeks, there have been several close encounters between bears and people in neighbourhoods all over Canmore, prompting wildlife officers to urge the community to be on alert.

A group of children riding from the Cougar Creek area to Lawrence Grassi Middle School encountered a curious and unwary black bear on a trail in the Spring Creek neighbourhood on Sept. 20, requiring adults to help the kids get safely across the bridge.

Near daily reports of black bears in all areas of Canmore include run-ins with dogs, bluff-charges, bears pooping on porches, feasting on fruit-laden trees, and close encounters with hikers and bikers on many of the town’s busy trails.

In one case, a stressed-out black bear bluff-charged an Eagle Heights resident who had scared the bear out of a tree in his backyard, forcing him to deploy pepper spray on the advancing bear.

Lucila said as days get shorter and overnight temperatures drop, bears continue to put more and more focus on eating calories to prepare for the upcoming winter hibernation period. 

She said many of the berries that bears have relied on during the summer have now been eaten or have dried up and fallen off trees. 

“Because of this, bears will travel more in order to find another food source, which sometimes causes them to wander into nearby human-habituated areas,” she said.

“If the wandering bear smells something that they believe is a food source, they are more likely to investigate the source of the smell at this time of year, knowing that they must eat as much as possible in order to survive the winter.”

For this reason, Lucila said it’s vital residents continue to properly secure any possible attractants such as food, garbage, pet food, or greasy barbecues. Picking fruit-laden trees is also strongly advised.

“Bears coming into residential areas to feed on unnatural food sources is a public safety risk because they are easily habituated and may defend the food source,” she said.

The Town of Canmore has a municipal bylaw requiring residents to properly secure garbage in animal-proof containers or enclosures.

The municipality also has a voluntary fruit tree removal incentive program, which covers half the removal cost to a maximum of $300 for homeowners in high priority areas.

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