Large Grizzly Bear follows hikers down trail in Banff National Park

Large grizzly bear follows hikers down trail in Banff National Park

Bourgeau Lake from the trail to Harvey Pass in Banff National Park in July 2013. COLETTE DERWORIZ


A warning is in place on Bourgeau Lake Trail in Banff National Park after a large grizzly bear followed two hikers down the trail — even as they added other hikers.

On Sunday afternoon, two people ran into the bear at Harvey Pass while they were hiking.

“They surprised the bear,” said Bill Hunt, resource conservation manager with Banff National Park. “They then got out of the area, but the bear proceeded on down the path behind them. 

“They continued to pick up groups on the way down until they were eventually a group of nine and the bear continued on down the path.”

Hunt said there was no aggressive behaviour by what’s believed to be a large male, but it got extremely close.

“The bear was within five to 10 metres at one point,” he said, noting the group was finally able to scare it off with a bear banger. 

A grizzly bear was spotted again the next morning, so an official warning has been put up on the trail.

“We thought it was prudent to put a warning in there until we get a better sense of what that behaviour is,” said Hunt, noting the bear could have simply been showing his dominance in the park. “It was very bold, but for a big male bear that’s, ‘Hey, I’m heading this way, you guys can all run ahead or move off’ behaviour, we think.”

Hunt said the hikers handled it well by grouping up with the seven other hikers.

“They stayed ahead of the bear and kept making distance between them and the bear and that was appropriate too,” he said. “If there’s a really easy spot where you might be able to get off the trail, that would be good too. 

“But, for a lot of that trail, you wouldn’t have that opportunity, so they acted appropriately.”

Another bear warning is in place at Two Jack main campground, where two black bears were hanging around. One was on top of a bear-proof garbage bin, while another was going from campsite to campsite. 

“It’s suggesting (they) found rewards at some point,” said Hunt, noting they’ve put a warning up at the campground and are asking campers to be vigilant about keeping their campsites clean.

Closer to Calgary, there’s also a warning on the Yamnuska trail due to a black bear spending time in the area.

The closure at Heart Creek trail in Kananaskis Country remains in effect after a grizzly with two cubs was spotted on the weekend, and a warning at the Canmore Nordic Centre has been extended as bears feed on berries in the area.

Meanwhile, three bears have been killed on the Trans-Canada Highway between Calgary and Canmore in a 24-hour period.

A male black bear was struck by a vehicle near Dead Man’s Flats early Monday afternoon, while a young female grizzly bear was hit by a truck late Monday night.

“That grizzly bear had been caught in Cochrane in the third week of June getting into chicken coops,” said Jay Honeyman, human/wildlife conflict specialist with Alberta Environment and Parks, adding they had moved her and a male grizzly bear to the Burnt Timber area near Sundre.

Early Tuesday, a young black bear was hit and killed near Scott Lake Hill. The collision also caused damage to the vehicle.

Honeyman said people need to keep their eyes open for wildlife, particularly at dawn and dusk.

“Be aware, slow down and drive the speed limit,” he said, reminding drivers that bears can climb the wildlife fencing along the highway. “The fence isn’t a 100 per cent solution.”