CALGARY – Wildlife officers are tracking a bear that attacked two unoccupied vehicles in the Kananaskis Village, and will likely have to destroy her.
“Bear 88” is a 23-year-old female grizzly, last seen in Kananaskis in 2012 on a wildlife camera. She hasn’t caused any other trouble in the past 13 years–until now.
“Our DNA (testing) confirmed it was her on October 6,” said park ecologist John Paczkowski, with Alberta Parks. “It’s heart-breaking to see a bear cross the line like that — this is a rare and unusual occurence.”
The grizzly was also responsible for trying to break into several trailers at Mount Kidd RV Park this week, damaging one.
She received cuts while mauling the trailer, and lost some blood, but officers don’t know the extent of her injuries.
They have set up cameras and tracks and are pursing the animal, which is not radio-collared.
The owner of a Canmore auto body shop was shocked to see the damage to the two cars damaged by Bear 88 in the past three weeks.
A white car, brought in on Oct. 7, needs $5,600 in repairs.
A worker in Kananaskis had left the vehicle in a Village parking lot while she worked, and the bear tried to break in.
The animal reached a paw through a vent and ripped the trunk apart, and also tore the bumper and one tail light off.
Terry Sieben, the owner of Fix Auto Body in Canmore, was stunned to see the damaged vehicles.
“It’s very unusual,” Sieben said. “I’ve only seen, back a few years ago, a bear doing maybe one claw mark — not going around the car and really trying to demolish it to get into it.”
He has fixed several vehicles that struck bears this year, but none that were attacked by the animals.
A second bear-damaged vehicle, brought in this week, needs close to $5,000 in body work.
The animal scratched all around it, tried to bite through the bumper, and jumped on the car, damaging the paint.
“(She) just really wanted to get into that vehicle for some reason,” Sieben said.
It was also parked in the Village by a local business owner.
Sieben suspects the bear might have been attracted to the scent of a pet that sometimes rides in the vehicle, but wasn’t present when the grizzly tried to break in.
The vehicle had a lot of dog hair inside.
Employees at the auto body shop also found strands of bear fur stuck to both cars.
Sieben summed up the damage in one word: “Wow.”
Paczkowski said there were no smelly food sources in any of the vehicles that were damaged.
He said the decision to destroy Bear 88 is “based on the combination of her age, repeat property damage and public safety.”
The life expectancy for female grizzlies is about 25 years.
A bear closure was in effect for a significant portion of the land in and around Wedge Pond in Kananaskis.
A warning was in place for part of the Elbow Sheep Wildland Provincial Park, between the Evan-Thomas Day Use area and Little Elbow Campground.
The affected area included Evan-Thomas Fireroad, the closed Mount Romulus Backcountry Campground, the Evan Thomas Pass Horse Camp, and part of Little Elbow Trail.
Alberta Parks said the 2015 season has been an “exceptionally poor food year for bears” because of limited berry crops.
Paczkowski said the shortage may have driven Bear 88 to break into the vehicles.