An orphaned grizzly that had been given a new lease on life in July was struck and killed by a vehicle near Stoddart Creek on the morning of Friday, Oct. 11.
The young cub, given the name Tika after he was discovered malnourished near Golden, just before Christmas 2012, had been transported to Smithers to recover at the Northern Lights Wildlife Society in Smithers.
Tika was then released to the Beaverfoot Range in the Rocky Mountains east of Golden, an area determined to be suitable habitat for a young male grizzly.
The accident occurred about two kilometres north of the Highway 93/95 and Athalmer Road intersection — not far from where a road-killed deer was, conservation officers later learned.
“Very likely, it was there, feeding on the road-killed deer; that’s much more common, as far as wildlife collisions,” said Invermere’s Conservation Officer Greg Kruger. “Bear collisions are fairly rare; it’s unfortunate this grizzly was struck and killed, but a contributing factor that morning was a very dense fog, so visibility would’ve been low.
“No one called it in as a vehicle strike. I got a phone call from a fellow who works at Kootenay National Park; he came across it and could confirm it was a grizzly bear with an ear tag.”
Just two and a half weeks before the accident, a signal from Tika’s radio collar, which it had been fitted with upon release from the rehabilitation centre, indicated the young bear had ventured as far south as Edgewater.
“We had no reports on this bear from the public, no complaints, as it was moving down the Columbia Valley,” said Kruger. “It wasn’t near the town, but it was within a few kilometres, east in the Rockies.”
Despite the tragic end, Tika’s release back to the wild had many elements of success, said Northern Lights Wildlife Society owner and manager Angelika Langen.
“There’s good in this too,” she said. “We have information on how far he travelled, and he was in excellent body condition. He was healthy and had a good fat layer. There’s nothing wrong with what he did, and that’s a success from our point of view.”
The GPS signal from Tika’s collar had recently became scrambled as a result from an encounter with an electric fence, and “we were ready to go in and retrieve him,” said Langen. “We would’ve liked to follow him for another couple of years.”
With files from Greg Amos at The Valley Echo