Black bear charges tourist on Alberta highway
A video of a black bear charging a tourist who stopped along Highway 93, south of Jasper, on the weekend is serving as a reminder about bear safety.
About a dozen vehicles pulled over to get a closer look at a black bear on the side of Highway 93, near Honeymoon Lake, on Sunday.
Stefan Jenart was also visiting the area and was recording as they were driving by the scene.
Jenart says people were getting out of their vehicles to get a closer look when the bear charged one woman who got too close.
The bear backed down and the woman was able to walk away.
Jenart shared the video with CTV Calgary as a reminder to people to keep their distance from wildlife.
Nick De Ruyter is an Education Outreach Coordinator with WildSmart and says the tourists in the video put themselves in a dangerous position.
“I was just amazed at how many people were out of their vehicles, first of all. People should not be getting out of their vehicles at a bear jam and second of all, everyone just seemed so relaxed and casual around these bears and then getting way too close to these bears. Having their cameras out, I didn’t see anyone with bear spray out,” he said.
De Ruyter says he understands that people come from around the world to see wildlife in the mountains but says people need to stay in their vehicles.
“Take a picture from a distance and move on as fast as you can.” he said. “Don’t linger. Never feed wildlife or attract wildlife to your vehicle at all and especially not to get a better shot.”
He says the bear was very tolerant and that the woman who was charged was lucky she wasn’t injured or mauled.
“With all those people and putting all that pressure on that bear and in the bear’s space, the bear was obviously uncomfortable but just kind of stopped short of making contact but obviously was showing that he wasn’t okay with all the people being there,” said De Ruyter. “That bear stopped short of her but that bear could’ve very easily made contact with her, whether it had been just knocking her over or attacking her, biting her, who knows there’s lots of possibilities that could’ve happened there so her safety as well as those people around her were definitely at risk.”
He says regardless of the type of bear, they are bigger and stronger than humans and need to be treated with respect. “A bear is a bear and should be treated with caution and respect.”
Human encounters are also bad for the bears and De Ruyter says the consequences from getting too close or feeding them can be disastrous.
“It the bear makes contact with those people and potentially attacks them, then that could potentially be problems for the bear in terms of being relocated or destroyed,” he said. “Once these bears get a taste of human food, they’re going to start looking for that food and being protective of that food so then it might start being very defensive of garbage containers or garbage or things like that or areas where humans go and these bears might start being very protective and actually be aggressive at people for getting close to their food source.”
The fine for feeding wildlife can be as high as $25,000 in the national parks and up to $100,000 in the provincial parks.
For more on bear safety and bear encounters, click HERE.