Waterton Lakes National Park staff kill black bear that had become a problem
CALGARY -- A black bear that had been seen rummaging around packed garbage bins in Waterton Lakes National Park had to be put down this week by staff members.
Officials say poor conduct by visitors is partially to blame for the animal's death.
The situation began on July 10, when Parks Canada staff closed a number of trails and backcountry campgrounds in the Bauerman Valley in response to a food-conditioned black bear that had had a number of run-ins with visitors.
Officials say the animal had bitten a number of unattended backpacks and came into contact with a tent that had occupants inside it.
A short time after the closure, a bear, believed to be the same habituated animal, ripped open an unoccupied tent set up by Parks Canada staff.
More recently, staff members received reports of a small black bear in the Red Rock Canyon Day Use Area, near the Bauerman Valley. It was eating garbage and other attractants left around and even entered the area while it was busy and leaned on a vehicle containing people.
These incidents ended up forcing Parks Canada staff to take action.
"Parks Canada wildlife experts had to euthanize the animal on the afternoon of July 20, 2020. This action was taken after carefully considering all other options for keeping the animal on the landscape, while following Parks Canada policies and procedures," officials say in a release.
While garbage at all Parks Canada facilities is normally contained inside bear-proof containers, officials say some visitors may not be utilizing them properly and leaving it out to be attractants for animals.
"We're seeing garbage out that's unsecured," said John Stoesser with the Waterton Lakes Field Unit. "We're seeing it more this year and it really affects the animals and the parks."
He says Waterton Lakes National Park is relatively small compared to the other parks in Alberta, but it has been busier, especially on the weekends. This, along with a variety of other reasons, could have led to the overloaded garbage cans.
"There's a lot of different factors that are going on. Maybe people don't want to touch the garbage cans," he says. "In that case, bring a garbage bag, bring hand sanitizer. If you come across a full can or don't want to touch it, pack it up and bring it home."
Stoesser says staff members inside the park are working hard to ensure all the garbage is collected and bins are free for the public to use.
Visitors are also reminded to never feed wildlife, give animals their proper space and respect all warnings and closures.
You can report bear sightings and all unsecured food or garbage immediately to Parks Canada by calling 1-888-927-3367.