Parks Canada steps up law enforcement after three grizzly bears die in three weeks

LAKE LOUISE, Alta. – Parks Canada is asking motorists to slow down and watch for wildlife after three grizzly bears were struck and killed in Jasper and Yoho national parks earlier this month.

The agency said two bears – a female and a male – died on the Trans-Canada Highway through Yoho National Park in British Columbia on June 7 and 11.

“We always expect the bears to come to the bottom of the valley in the spring because that’s the first place to green up,” said David Laskin, wildlife ecologist for Parks Canada in Lake Louise. “We have lots of dandelions and green vegetation, so the bears usually come down and eat that and then disperse into the backcountry at higher elevations.

“This spring, it’s a bit delayed because we have a snowpack hanging in there. This keeps the bears low and they spend more time on the roads, putting them at longer risk.

A third grizzly bear was killed on Highway 16 last week in Jasper National Park.

The female bear with a cub was hit late Thursday or early Friday morning by a transport truck about three miles east of the town of Jasper. The cub survived and appeared to be fine on Friday, Parks Canada said in a news release last week.

The agency estimates on its website that there are about 200 grizzly bears in Banff, Jasper, Yoho and Kootenay national parks. They are listed as a species of special concern under federal law.

Laskin said coping with grizzly bear deaths, especially the five-year-old female bear in Yoho National Park, was difficult.

“The loss of one grizzly bear is one too many,” he said, “but a female of childbearing age is a big hit, because grizzly bears are slow to reproduce and they’re relatively rare in the landscape.” .

Parks Canada has reduced the speed limit from 90 km/h to 70 km/h on a six-kilometre stretch of Highway 1 west of Lake Louise, Alberta, and east of Field, Columbia. Briton, in Yoho National Park after the female grizzly bear died. It was further reduced to 50 km/h after the second bear was hit, Laskin said.

“We had additional speed checks in the reduced speed zone,” he said. “Park rangers and RCMP issued speeding tickets and also seized vehicles for speeding.”

Laskin said there was also a no-stop zone in the same stretch of freeway.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on June 20, 2022.

— By Colette Derworiz in Calgary.

Note to readers: This story has been corrected. An earlier version said the speed limit had been reduced east of Lake Louise, Alberta, and west of Field, British Columbia.

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