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Parks Canada implementing no stopping zone in Banff to protect bears

Click to play video: 'Banff’s famous grizzly bear’s close call with moving train caught by local filmmaker'
Banff’s famous grizzly bear’s close call with moving train caught by local filmmaker
WATCH: Bears have emerged from their winter dens along the Canadian Rockies in Alberta, and a local filmmaker was able to catch a glimpse of one of Banff National Park's most famous grizzlies and its incredibly close call with a moving train. Heather Yourex-West explains – Apr 12, 2024

Parks Canada said it is implementing a no-stopping zone along the Bow Valley Parkway in Banff National Park to protect two bears that have been persistently showing up along the railway track since April 2.

The 320-metre stopping zone is located between Baker Creek and Protection Mountain Campground and was implemented after several reports of bear jams, unsafe parking and people leaving their vehicles to approach the bears in the past 10 days. Parks Canada said a safe opportunity to view wildlife cannot be accommodated in the area.

Parks Canada staff and law enforcement will routinely patrol the area to make sure people are complying with the no-stopping zone. Penalties range from a $115 ticket to a mandatory court appearance and maximum fine of $25,000, Parks Canada said.

“As bears leave the tracks to avoid trains, they may move quickly and suddenly towards the road. This is particularly unsafe for people who are out of their vehicles. The area also lacks a road shoulder to pull over onto and traffic flow is impeded by parked vehicles. Space in the area is also limited and cannot accommodate a safe viewing distance of 100 metres between people and the bears,” a release late Friday afternoon reads.

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Parks Canada added that bears are attracted to the spilled grain in the area and staff have attempted to use hazing to discourage the bears from spending time along the train tracks. However, efforts have been unsuccessful because other natural foraging areas are covered in snow. The grain is also to dispersed to be cleaned up effectively.

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“Parks Canada needs the support of the public in keeping people and wildlife safe. We would like to remind people that disobeying closures or no-stopping zones is illegal,” Parks Canada’s release read.

A local filmmaker is also calling on Albertans to respect wildlife in the national park, but also highlighted the risk railroads and trains pose for bears. Andy Arts posted a video on Facebook showing The Boss, a well-known bear in Banff, narrowly missing a Canada Pacific Kansas City (CPKC) train.

Arts said he was watching The Boss for 20 minutes eating grain from the tracks when he heard a train whistle. Arts said he ran towards The Boss yelling for it to move away.

“I went about 10 or 15 feet forward and I was yelling it to move, and it looked up at me and then just nonchalantly just got up and left. Seven seconds later the train goes whizzing by, and I thought it was incredible because he has been hit by a train twice,” he told Global News.

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He said he has a lot of respect for wildlife, more than he does for humans.

“When you see the boss and the media attention that he got, just the look on him and how he walks … It’s gorgeous,” Arts said. “People, just be respectful to the animals as much as you can and learn about it.”

A spokesperson for CPKC said in an emailed statement to Global News that train whistles are a safety device that allows crew to warn people or animals on or near the tracks of the approaching train.

“CPKC has a long history of working closely with Parks Canada in protecting our national parks. There are many factors affecting wildlife within the parks and we focus on mitigation efforts within our existing right-of-way, including investing in a targeted vegetation management program throughout Banff and Yoho national parks to decrease attractant vegetation and open escape paths in confined areas,” the spokesperson said.

 

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