When Fish and Wildlife officers Ken Powell and Terry Mack responded to a complaint from a livestock producer in the Chain Lakes area, they were prepared to deal with almost anything. The complaint concerned a calf that was found dead with injuries inconsistent with a common predator like a coyote. Instead, the officers found canine teeth punctures indicating a much larger and more dangerous grizzly bear.
With this in mind, a culvert trap was set up and baited with pungent materials like beaver castor, parts from the calf carcass and a can of sardines. However, after four days of the trap remaining empty and no other calves going missing, the equipment was removed. Sure enough, Fish and Wildlife was contacted the very next day by the same livestock producer because another calf carcass had turned up in a state similar to the first one.
The officers returned to set up the culvert trap again. This time they were successful in capturing an adult male grizzly bear weighing 250 kilograms. Once secured, the bear was tranquilized and brought in for observation and processing. The bear’s ear was tagged with a tracer, a microchip was implanted in his nose, and a DNA sample was taken so that the bear could be identified if there were any similar occurences in the future.
The grizzly was later taken to an area northwest of Grande Cache for release. This area was chosen because there are no livestock producers nearby, so the bear can resume feeding on more natural food sources. Terry and Ken still remain vigilant should another bear try to snatch any other Albertans’ animals for a meal in the future.
Relocation is just one of the management activities we do to balance grizzly bear conservation with agriculture practices and is only used when the risk to public safety and property is deemed too high for other methods, such as bear aversion techniques. We continue to work with livestock producers across Alberta to reduce the risk of human-bear encounters for the safety of both the public and bears. For more information on agriculture BearSmart practices, visit www.bearsmart.alberta.ca.