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Bear attack closes trails, campgrounds in Waterton Lakes National Park

A sign indicating an area closure near Crandell Lake in Waterton Lakes National Park. (Supplied: Parks Canada) A sign indicating an area closure near Crandell Lake in Waterton Lakes National Park. (Supplied: Parks Canada)
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A bear attack in Waterton Lakes National Park has forced the closure of several trails and campgrounds in the area.

In an emailed statement, Parks Canada said two park visitors were scrambling up Ruby Ridge from Crandell Lake around 2 p.m. on Tuesday when they encountered a bear.

The bear charged at them, injuring both.

"The injuries were bite marks and they were non-life-threatening," said Rob Found, ecologist team leader – wildlife.

They used bear spray and the bear disengaged, which gave them time to leave the area.

They hiked out of the area and were taken to hospital by ambulance in stable condition.

Found says the incident is a rarity for the mountain parks in general and Waterton in particular.

But he also notes, "It is bear country."

"Always be prepared. Bear spray is the No. 1, as shown in this case. Knowing how to use it properly so you aren't spraying yourself, you're spraying the bear. It would be helpful to take a bear awareness course and the third thing would be attractant management, so always packing out whatever garbage you're bringing in," Found said.

Parks Canada said the bear has not been located.

Parks staff are investigating the incident.

"Our next step is to visit the attack site and to gather more evidence. We have gathered some evidence already and we're trying to get a little more informed about why this attack occurred," Found said.

"We actually, presently, don't know the species or the sex of the bear and were hoping to find that out from some genetic analysis and hopefully from a site visit."

In an alert on Wednesday, Parks Canada said the area surrounding Crandell Lake has been closed.

The closure area includes:

  • Mount Crandell including Crandell Lake Trail, Crandell Lake Campground, Crandell Loop from the Townsite to the Crandell Lake Trailhead, Crandell Mountain Campground and Canyon Church Camp.
  • Ruby Ridge to the north slopes of Mount Blakiston including Ruby Falls and Ruby Lake.
  • Lineham Trail including Lineham Cliffs and the south slopes of Mount Blakiston.

A map shows the area of closure in the Crandell Lake area in Waterton Lakes National Park that was put in place on June 12, 2024 due to a serious bear incident. (Courtesy: Parks Canada)

Violators may be charged under the Canada National Parks Act, carrying a maximum penalty of $25,000.

Bear sightings can be reported by calling 1-888- 927-3367 or notifying Parks Canada staff.

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