Parks Canada has been unsuccessful in its efforts to capture and collar a black bear that accessed “significant food rewards” left unattended at a picnic table at the Lake Minnewanka day-use area in Banff National Park late last month.
Dylan Spencer, Banff field unit resource conservation manager, said the male brown-coloured black bear was last seen in the area June 29 when it accessed the picnicker’s garbage in a matter of minutes of it being left there.
“Never leave food or scented items unattended, always securely store your items inside a vehicle or a wildlife-proof bin if you leave a picnic table for any amount of time,” said Spencer.
“That was the case here where the table was just left unattended for a couple minutes and before you knew it, that bear was on that garbage.”
Parks set up a bear trap the following day, resulting in the closure of a portion of the Lake Minnewanka parking lot.
Spencer said the standard approach when a bear receives a food reward is to capture and collar it to monitor activity.
“Then, hopefully, if it returns to the area it can be hazed to prevent it from having further food rewards and that situation progressing,” he said.
After nearly two weeks of trying to capture the bear, conservation officers took down the trap July 11 and reopened the parking lot.
“It seems to be that he’s moved on,” said Kira Tryon, public relations and communications officer for Parks Canada’s Banff field unit. “He hasn’t been seen in the Lake Minnewanka area since the end of June, so the expectation is they’ll just monitor that area as closely as they can and if maybe he is seen, there might be another opportunity to put out another small closure and a bear trap.”
Spencer said Parks Canada has been receiving reports of above average amounts of litter on the landscape in Banff National Park recently.
With increased visitation in the summer, the Banff field unit ramps up its picnic patrollers and wildlife interpreter teams to educate the public about proper human-wildlife coexistence, including how garbage acts as an animal attractant.
“They kind of rove around day-use areas or campground and are looking out for things like wildlife attractants that are left unattended or maybe some garbage bins that are overflowing and need to be emptied, or just other visitor behaviour that might need addressing,” said Tryon.
Spencer said keeping day-use areas and other areas in the national park free of garbage is a shared responsibility.
“It’s really important that everyone does their part to be stewards to help keep the bears wild,” he said.
By Jessica Lee, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Jul 12, 2023