CANMORE – Alberta Fish and Wildlife officers were forced to kill a black bear after it repeatedly fed on calorie-rich fruit trees in the busy Cougar Creek neighbourhood of Canmore.
Details are scant at this point, but Bow Valley WildSmart posted news that the bear was euthanized on Saturday (Sept. 23) once learning of the incident on Thursday night (Sept. 28).
“Bow Valley residents need to be aware of and concerned that attractants such as fruit trees pose a safety risk to people and the survival of bears,” said Nick de Ruyter, program director for Bow Valley WildSmart.
"Coexisting with wildlife in the Bow Valley means removing forbidden fruit. The best long-term solution is to remove the fruit tree and replace it with a non-fruit-bearing alternative.”
In Canmore, it is against the law to let fruit or berries accumulate on trees, bushes, or the ground, and new fruit-bearing trees or bushes cannot be planted. Fines can range between $250 and $10,000.
The Town of Canmore has a fruit tree removal incentive program, which covers 100 per cent of removal costs to a cap of $500.
Seven bears – six black and one grizzly – were relocated out of the Canmore area last year.
One black bear family that accessed fruit trees around town and garbage from a downtown commercial dumpster was relocated but quickly returned. Not wanting to risk public safety, the mama bear and two of her cubs were euthanized by Fish and Wildlife officers.
In neighbouring Banff last fall, Parks Canada was forced to kill two habituated black bears – a mother and her cub – after they fed on multiple crabapple trees throughout town, including in the industrial compound, the downtown core and in Middle Springs.
The bears were initially relocated out of town within their home range to give them a chance of survival, but it didn’t take long for them to return to the townsite once they had been rewarded with an easy snack.
About 10 days ago, Banff National Park’s wildlife team was kept busy hazing a black bear away from Banff Rocky Mountain Resort, located north of the townsite along Banff Avenue, after it was found feeding on mountain ash berries.
Wildlife experts say the bear was initially reported travelling down the east side of the resort against the hill by Tunnel Mountain Road.
“By the time I got there, which was just minutes, he had swung around and came up the Banff Ave side and climbed into a mountain ash tree that was right up against the building,” said Blair Fyten, human-wildlife conflict specialist for Banff National Park.
“He must have smelled those berries because why else would he circle around and come back up the Banff Ave side when there were lots of people milling around. I mean, that was 10 o’clock in the morning.”
While this incident was outside the Banff townsite boundary, under a new council-approved bylaw change within the Town of Banff, municipal enforcement officers now have the authority to order a property owner to remove a tree that has proven to attract bears to feed on its fruit.
On Saturday (Sept. 23), famed grizzly bear No. 122, a.k.a. The Boss, was lured to a residential yard on Marmot Crescent in Banff that was home to a crabapple tree.
Because of his size, estimated to be about 450-pounds, Banff's largest and most dominant male grizzly never actually climbed into the tree.
“He’s not really the type of bear that can climb because he's just too big, but there were enough apples on the ground that he was just helping himself to these apples,” he said.
“That being said, he could have reached up into this tree and grabbed the branches and broke them off for more fruit.”
That tree was quickly removed, and while The Boss returned a couple more times despite consistent hazing, he has since moved west of the townsite and has not returned to the Marmot Crescent neighbourhood.
The Town of Banff also has a fruit tree removal program paying for the full cost of removing trees on private property and replacing with a non fruit-bearing tree.
Property owners interested in the free program are asked to email the Town of Banff’s environment team at [email protected] for information/support.