With three bears being struck and killed in the mountain national parks since the start of spring, Parks Canada is reminding visitors it is everyone’s responsibility to help preserve wildlife in the parks.
David Laskin, a wildlife ecologist for Parks Canada, says they’ve never lost bears at this frequency before, stating that the frequency is ‘concerning.’
“We’re asking drivers to obey speed limits and expect to see wildlife on the roadways and to make sure you are keeping your distance,” said Laskin.
“Part of it is safety for visitors, but also for the wildlife.”
Laskin says it’s important the bears not get habituated to human presence in order to keep them wild, and also not attract them to the roads or into towns.
He also expects bears to come into the lower valleys for this time of year.
As there’s still plenty of snow in the mountains, Laskin says the late spring melt has contributed to more bears along the roads.
Losing this many bears so early on is hard, says Laskin, especially in this recent case where a female of reproductive age was lost.
Laskin stressed that will have a big impact in terms of population sustainability.
“Losing just one grizzly bear is one too many,” he said.
“We’re hoping it’s an anomaly due to the cool spring.”
When in the parks, it’s vital to keep all attractants locked away to avoid bears becoming habituated to humans, in both the front country and back country.
No food should be left unattended and should be secured in a vehicle, bear canister or food locker.
As well, when you see wildlife, stay in your car.
After the fatalities, parks officials took several measures to increase protections, such as a no stopping zone and speed reductions.
However, everyone needs to do their part.
“It’s really disappointing, we work really hard to keep these bears safe,” said Laskin.
“It takes more than just us to keep the bears safe- visitors need to do their part.”