The female grizzly that was previously relocated from Fernie made her way back to James White Park via the Fernie mobile home park on May long weekend and was later shot in a reported “defence of property” in a rural area west of Fernie.

The Elk Valley is very rich grizzly bear habitat in close proximity to human development. More unsecured garbage, traffic on the highway, people using the trails and new developments can all contribute to human/wildlife conflict. People need to have a better understanding and tolerance of wildlife and wildlife behaviour for us to peacefully coexist.

Biologists are currently studying the way grizzly bears use the landscape in the Elk Valley and how they interact with people. They plan to have radio collars on a sample size of approximately 10 grizzly bears and monitor their activity. The results of the study will be used to make suggestions on how to minimize interactions with people based on the data. Similar studies have been done in the flathead for the last 36 years. Landscape in the flathead is similar to the Elk Valley but there are no permanent residents.

Moving bears within their home range (relocation) buys bears time to make better choices and avoid people, but it’s not a permanent solution for resolving human/bear conflict. Trans-location, moving bears a long distance has proven ineffective. They almost always come back to their original territory or become “problem animals” in other communities. They often fail to adapt to their new habitat, may starve to death, be killed by other dominant wildlife, or get shot on their way back to their home territory.

At home, keep garbage indoors away from bears, clean up BBQ’s, bring in birdfeeders and use electric fencing to protect livestock. On the trail, make noise to warn bears of your presence and avoid surprise encounters and carry bear spray, have it accessible and know how to use it.

For more information on wildlife safety visit www.wildsafebc.com

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