VICTIM OF NATURE’S CRUELTY
Rescued bear cub killed in the wild
One of the three black bear cubs rescued from a Banff bathroom was eaten by a suspected grizzly bear just weeks after the trio returned to the park from an Ontario wildlife facility.
The cubs were discovered abandoned in the Vermillion Lakes public washroom along the TransCanada Highway in April 2017, and soon after were shipped to the Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary in Ontario to ensure they had a shot at survival when they returned to the wild.
The three female bears were released together in Banff National Park in July, but had gone their separate ways, said Bill Hunt, a resource conservation manager with Parks Canada.
With the aid of GPS monitoring collars, conservation staff had been tracking the year-and-a-half-old bruins remotely when, on Aug. 28, one of the beacons switched into “mortality mode” after it remained stationary for 24 hours.
It wasn’t until Sept. 4, Hunt said, that Parks Canada staff were able to access the site via airplane in the Clearwater River drainage, in the north end of Banff National Park.
“We investigated the scene and the bear was found in a big buffalo berry patch,” Hunt said.
“Most of the carcass had been consumed but there was a large puncture wound through the skull, so we suspect that it was a grizzly bear.”
Of the trio, the yearling that ran afoul of the suspected grizzly had ranged farthest a field since the bears returned to their Rocky Mountain home in July, stumbling into territory frequented by more powerful grizzlies focused on fattening ahead of their winter hibernation.
The wayward cubs were discovered by a passing motorist at a rest stop last spring and were soon transferred to the animal sanc- tuary north of Toronto, quickly gaining weight in the habitat that minimized human contact to avoid habituation.
By the time they were released, all were around the 50-kilogram mark and showing behaviours expected in bears their age.
That one became a victim of a predator, while sad, is not abnormal in the wild, Hunt said.
“Predation between bears is a very natural process. It’s just nature taking its course,” he said.
Meanwhile, conservation officials continue to monitor the bear’s surviving sisters through their GPS collars, with hopes they won’t suffer a similar fate.
“The whole purpose of this project was to give these bears a second chance, and that’s what’s happened,” Hunt said.
“We’re hopeful they ’ll make it to a den before winter.”
Most of the carcass had been consumed ... Predation between bears is a very natural process.
Three black bear cubs were rescued after being found in a Vermillion Lakes washroom last year. One was found dead earlier this month.