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Bear beware: Bears still in townsite

A bear and her two cubs on a train in Jasper. Parks Canada came by before the train started moving. | J.Stockfish photo

Scott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter | reporter@fitzhugh.ca

Parks Canada says that vigilance is required as several bears have become habituated and continue to visit the Jasper townsite for easy food sources.

“The continuous presence of bears in the Jasper townsite, often in residential yards just metres from people, is an unacceptable safety risk for visitors and residents,” the notice read.

Parks Canada previously said that there had been numerous interactions that could have easily resulted in injury to people.

It published the reminder on Sept. 15, only one week after it advised the public that it was planning to relocate the bears, which included two sets of female bears with cubs. Up to 10 bears have been having regular incursions into residents’ yards, a result of a poor crop of berries in the backcountry.

Jasper Local Food Share is one resource that can help deal with removing the attractants from your yard. With so many fruit trees still unpicked in town, the temptation has been irresistible for many bears as they prepare for hibernation. 

The Parks Canada announcement indicated that one family of black bears had already been relocated. 

“Staff successfully trapped a family of black bears that had frequently accessed food sources in the Jasper townsite. The bears were released into suitable habitat in a remote area of the park along the Icefields Parkway. The mother and two cubs were observed foraging on buffaloberries soon after release,” the notice continued.

The advisory repeated the call for all residents to do their part in helping to keep the bears from coming in. That includes:

  • harvesting all fruit, including chokecherries and fruit from mayday and apple trees;
  • consider removing fruit trees entirely;
  • remove any other attractants from your yard and around your home, including pet food and bird feeders;
  • following bear-safe practices, such as hiking in groups, carrying bear spray and making noise to avoid surprise encounters; and 
  • avoiding bear traps.

Closure areas for the traps will be clearly posted and marked.

The process is stressful for bears, particularly cubs, and success isn’t guaranteed. Trapping is stressful on them and bears that have been relocated must face new risks when moved to unfamiliar habitat that may already be occupied by other bears.

Because they have learned of the readily-available food on Jasperites’ fruit trees, the incentive is high. They often return to those food sources. Parks Canada previously stated that if bears continue to visit the townsite then it will consider destroying them as the next course of action.

“The continuous presence of bears in the Jasper townsite, often in residential yards just metres from people, is an unacceptable safety risk for visitors and residents,” the notice added.

Everyone is also reminded to report all bear sightings to Parks Canada dispatch at 780-852-6155.

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