Gateway Gazette

Waterton Lakes National Park Wildlife Statement: Black Bear Habituation

Keeping wildlife wild is a shared responsibility – we all have a role to play.

On July 10, 2020, Parks Canada closed trails and backcountry campgrounds in the Bauerman Valley, accessed from Red Rock Canyon Day Use Area, after receiving reports of a food-conditioned black bear that bit unattended backpacks and made contact with a tent while occupants were inside. A few days after the closure was in place, a black bear ripped an unoccupied tent set up by Parks Canada team members. Recently, Parks Canada received reports and observations of a young black bear obtaining garbage and other attractants at the Red Rock Canyon Day Use Area. The bear entered the busy day use area looking for garbage and leaned on a vehicle with people in it. Parks Canada is confident this was the same bear between incidents at the backcountry campground and the day use area parking lot.

Unfortunately, due to the black bear’s excessive level of habituation, food-conditioning, and that it presented a risk to public safety, 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.

Human and wildlife safety is of the utmost importance to Parks Canada, and the Agency takes action to promote coexistence between people and wildlife. Parks Canada team members work diligently to prevent this type of unfortunate situation by educating park visitors and residents, providing bear-proof food garbage bins and food storage facilities, researching and monitoring wildlife, and engaging in compliance and enforcement efforts. Parks Canada continues to monitor wildlife activity in the area, to ensure the safety of visitors, residents, and wildlife. A bear warning remains in place for the Bauerman Valley in Waterton Lakes National Park.

Observing wildlife in their natural habitat is a privilege that comes with a responsibility to treat wildlife with the respect they deserve and need. Black bears have learned how to exist in proximity of humans in Waterton Lakes National Park; it is important for residents and visitors to remember that they share the surrounding habitat with wildlife and take the steps necessary to keep themselves and wildlife safe.

Parks Canada has observed garbage left out at picnic areas, along trails and sitting next to waste bins. We would appreciate your support in informing the public that bears are active on the landscape and to remind all visitors and backcountry campers in Waterton Lakes National Park to stay alert, keep food and garbage secure, never feed wildlife, dispose of garbage in the containers provided or take it home, give wildlife space, and respect all warnings and closures. The public and visitors should report bear sightings of concern and ALL unsecured food/garbage immediately to Parks Canada Dispatch at 1-888- 927-3367. Together, we can contribute to the successful coexistence of people and wildlife.

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