It’s an incident one ecologist says speaks to the “resiliency” of bears, and grizzlies in particular: Bear 164 was struck by a car travelling about 100 km/h on the highway in late July. A few weeks later, he’s completely fine.
While trying to cross the Trans-Canada Highway near Lac Des Arcs on July 28, the collared bear was struck by a car.
LISTEN: Senior biologist with Alberta Environment and Parks talks bear safety
According to Alberta Parks and Environment ecologist John Paczowski, because of the speed the car was travelling and the damage it sustained, experts were sure he’d been killed.
They waited several hours, as the collar Bear 164 was wearing would’ve sent a “mortality” signal after three hours if the animal didn’t move. However, not only did they not get a “mortality” signal, the bear was up and moving around.
The area was closed as a precaution and officials continued to keep an eye out for the grizzly. Three days later, he was seen walking around in the bush with a slight limp.
They were advised by a veterinarian to wait about two weeks before capturing him. On Aug. 16, they were able to shoot him with a free-range tranquilizer dart and get a much closer look at him.
“He was in great shape with no sign of visible external injury,” Paczowski told Global News.
“I was expecting to see some sort of scarring or maybe some broken ribs or broken bones.”
Bow Valley, a dangerous spot for bears
Paczowski said the Bow Valley and the Trans-Canada Highway are a dangerous place for both grizzly and black bears — a lot of them die each year due to collisions with cars.
He said he was “quite astonished” to see this one was able to walk away from the collision seemingly without even a scratch.
“I think it kind of speaks to the toughness and resiliency of the bear,” Paczowski said.
In addition to the rarity of examining a grizzly that survived a car crash, the Alberta Parks team were also able to fit Bear 164 — who had nearly doubled in size since first being collared in May 2016 — with a new GPS collar.
Paczowski hopes the data from that collar, which sends information every 30 minutes, will give them a better understanding of how the bear, and other wildlife, live in the Bow Valley.
Bear 164 isn’t a frequent visitor to the valley, and Paczowski said the grizzly doesn’t make himself visible around communities, though he is often spotted on the side of the road eating vegetation.
Where does Bear 164 wander?
Here’s a map showing where Bear 164 roams in and around the Bow Valley, compiled from data gathered through his radio collar: