Berry crop failure has more bears snooping around Alberta towns for food: wildlife experts

A quiet family neighborhood by the scenic Cochrane River erupted in excitement and a bit of panic on Thursday morning.

School children waiting on the sidewalk for a large yellow bus saw a black bear crossing the road.

« There was a message on our neighborhood mom chat, » said Cochrane resident Mindy Gallup.

« A bear was spotted between two houses just opposite the bus stop so there was this eruption and the parents sent other parents to be with the children. »

The bear quickly ran away, but this is not the first time a black bear has wandered into the community. It’s the talk of the block with bear warning signs hanging at the entrance to many of the city’s walking trails.

« (A bear) was in my yard and knocked over the compost bin and gently pulled apart a bag, » Gallup said.

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The bear’s muddy footprints are still on the trash can.

« (The bear) didn’t climb the fence, he just went and got that blue bin on the other side of the fence (because there was bacon grease on a paper towel, (and ) he ate that, » said Stan Cordingley, who also lives in the neighborhood. « We see them from time to time, but nothing as bad as this year. »

Cordingley added that his neighbors have tried to make sure the fruit trees are bare and keep their trash in their garages. Yet, he said, a bear keeps moving.

READ MORE: 7 bears euthanized at Crowsnest Pass following human interactions

It’s not just Cochrane that deals with barnyard bears. Banff and Canmore also received visitors.

« I think this year at least nine bears have been moved from Canmore and three bears have been euthanized, all because they had access to human food, » said Nick de Ruyter, WildSmart program manager at Canmore. .

« This year we had a bad harvest of bison berries for the second year in a row, and if they (the bears) don’t get those berries, they will often follow their noses and stomachs around town, » said de Ruyter, adding that the warmer weather gives bears a longer season to find food.

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Global News requested an interview with someone from Alberta Fish and Wildlife, but was told that officers were inundated with so many bear calls that they were unable to do an interview before the publication of this article.

Wildlife experts advise people to be cautious around bears and wear pepper spray, especially when walking alone.

A black bear is seen near Lake Louise, Alberta, June 2020.


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