Dozens of people attended a rally in Canmore on Saturday to mourn the recent death of Bear 148 and to send a message.
“She is a symbol for all of our wildlife and what can happen if we don’t do all we can to protect and preserve our natural environment and ensure functionality of our corridors. She is the end result that we don’t want to see happen ever again,” said Bow Valley resident Kay Anderson.
Bear 148 didn’t hurt anyone but had many encounters with humans. She was moved in July from her range near Banff and Canmore to a remote area north of Jasper. Last month she was legally shot by a hunter in B.C.
“Suddenly we can’t tolerate her anymore because she’s going to restrict people’s activities and we can’t have that,” said Harvey Locke, co-founder of the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative.
“So instead of restricting people, we take the bear and we fly her out to a place where she gets shot as a trophy. That tells you what’s wrong in one tragic story.”
B.C. plans to end grizzly trophy hunting this year. In Alberta, it has been illegal to hunt grizzly bears for over a decade.
But it’s not hunters the people attending the Canmore rally were focused on; it’s the attitude of their own neighbours they say is a threat to the bears.
“A rally like this is the chance that we have to come together to say we share this interest in saving nature.
“The problem is the voice that says, ‘I want to run with my dog off-leash and I don’t want to be told I can’t go there for eight days while the bear is eating berries. I want, I want,’ that’s the voice that gets heard,” Locke said.
Many Canmore residents say the death puts the spotlight on development in the Bow Valley.
“Maybe before you could do things differently but now things are just tighter. We’ve had more pressure with development, more pressure with more people, and animals are still trying to make their way through. We all need to step back and say: what can we do differently? And how can we change our behaviour to better co-exist?” Anderson said.
Bear 148 was wearing a tracking collar when she was shot. An Alberta wildlife biologist says data collected shows the bear was not posing a problem at the time.