News & Media

Black bear cub killed by train near Canmore; Wildlife officials fear for mother and second cub

by Tanya Foubert (Calgary Herald)
April 28, 2012

CANMORE — A bear cub was struck and killed by a train on Friday night.

Alberta Fish and Wildlife officer Rob Dipalo said the yearling black bear cub was originally thought to be a grizzly due to its colouring.

He said the small blond bear was hit Friday around 9 p.m. west of Old Camp along Highway 1A between Canmore and Exshaw.

Dipalo said he removed the carcass around 1 p.m. Saturday and after further examination it became clear it was not a grizzly.

“My thinking is the sow and other cub will move sooner if the carcass is gone,” he said.

The mother black bear, he added, is also dark-coloured and at this is the time of year, bears are in the valley bottom looking for food. Dipalo said he did not see any grain on the tracks.

“They are hungry and emerging from the den and looking for food,” he said.

The concern for officials is that the mother and second cub will remain in the area and be in danger of being struck as well.

CP Rail spokeswoman Breanne Feigel said the train engineer did not witness the strike, but crews will be on the lookout for the other two bears in the area over the next several days.

“It was a situation where he didn’t actually see it and it was discovered after,” she said.

Feigel said crews are aware that with spring arriving, grizzly bears are in the valley bottom in search of food.

She said CP Rail is working hard on the issue of grizzly bear mortality on the tracks, with Parks Canada having train crews report all animal sightings to wildlife managers.

While the area where the cub was struck is not inside the park gates, Feigel said the work applies to the entire Bow Valley corridor.

The grizzly bear action plan, she added, is engaging in research work on the ground this year to find ways to deter bears from being on the tracks.

In addition to the research efforts and reporting, CP Rail operates a vacuum truck throughout the bear season.

Feigel said the truck runs three to five times a week or as needed when grain is spotted on the tracks and has been in operation since the beginning of April.

The issue of grain has been ongoing as it provides a food source for bears, attracting them to the tracks. She said with efforts to repair hopper cars to prevent grain from spilling as it passes through the Rocky Mountains the vacuum truck has been needed less.

“The hope continues to be this will amount to something that will be beneficial to wildlife in and around Banff National Park,” Feigel said.

Tanya Foubert is a reporter for the Rocky Mountain Outlook.

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