VIC­TIM OF NA­TURE’S CRU­ELTY

Res­cued bear cub killed in the wild

Calgary Herald - - FRONT PAGE - SHAWN LO­GAN slo­[email protected] Twit­ter.com/ ShawnLo­gan403

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.

PARKS CANADA

Three black bear cubs were res­cued af­ter be­ing found in a Ver­mil­lion Lakes wash­room last year. One was found dead ear­lier this month.

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