August 13, 2018 7:07 pm
Updated: August 13, 2018 8:28 pm

Off-leash dog captured on video chasing black bear near Canmore

Mon, Aug 13: A video capturing an encounter between a black bear and an off-leash dog near Canmore has wildlife experts issuing a familiar plea: keep your dogs on a leash. Blake Lough reports.

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What started out as a safe and peaceful bear encounter on the Canmore Reservoir last week quickly turned stressful for Derek Bisbing and the group he was with.

While paddle boarding on the calm water with his friend, partner and two-year-old daughter, Bisbing and the group were joined by a black bear who dipped in and swam across the waterway right in front of them.

“We were the only four people, like no one else saw the bear at that moment,” Bisbing told Global News via Skype on Monday.

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“It was a pretty rare and amazing moment and everything was safe, we were OK, far enough away on our boats and the bear was not being aggressive.”

READ MORE: Why you shouldn’t get out of your vehicle to take photos of wildlife

As the bear neared the other side of the reservoir, Bisbing noticed a woman with two dogs approaching, and the dogs weren’t on leashes.

In video Bisbing shared with Global News, he and the others in his group tried to yell to the woman to warn her and tell her to put her dogs on the leash, but she didn’t hear them.

“As soon as the bear got up the crest of the hill the bigger dog lost its mind and went tearing after the bear and chased it down the embankment,” Bisbing said.

WATCH: Video sent to Global News shows an off-leash dog chasing a black bear near the Canmore Reservoir.

In the video, the dog’s owner is heard screaming at her dog, but it doesn’t come back.

Bisbing said the dog came back up about 10 to 15 seconds later, unharmed.

“It just went from a sort of being this really nice experience to… dangerous and stressful because the bear was just puttering around doing its thing and it was sort of ruined by someone just having their dog off-leash,” he said.

“It was a bummer as well as being concerned for the bear’s life and the dog’s life and the woman’s life and everyone.”

Bisbing added there are typically a lot of people on foot in the area and it wasn’t far from the Quarry Lake dog park, which could have made for an even bigger danger if the bear had gotten aggressive or been chased toward others.

READ MORE: Grizzly bears in Alberta caught on camera chasing black bear away from dinner

He said he called Canmore dispatch right away and later received a call from a bylaw officer who said three units, including a bylaw officer and an officer from Alberta Parks, went to the area and tried to find the woman and dog to no avail.

Bisbing is a dog owner himself and said he’s the first to admit it’s fun to have your dog off-leash, but said: “where it’s not allowed, it’s not allowed for a reason.”

“Bears, elk, all the critters that are out there that everyone wants to see, they are not your friend,” he said. “They’re amazing but unless you really know your dog, and even then, even if you have a really well-trained dog, you don’t know how it’s going to react.

“If it chases the bear and the bear chases it back… there’s a lot of things that could happen.”

According to the Town of Canmore website, outside the designated five off-leash parks, dogs must be on a leash. Alberta Parks also stipulates on its website that dogs are allowed in campgrounds, day use areas and on trails but must be on a leash.

WATCH: Viewer video without audio shows a woman being charged by a black bear along Highway 93 near Jasper, Alta., after she stopped to take photos of the wild animal.

Wildlife behavioural ecologist Brian Horejsi said that dogs can be a distraction for people whether they’re on- or off-leash, adding that dog owners should refrain from bringing their dogs to bear country.

He added every bear and every dog will likely behave differently in different situations, but “if push comes to shove, the dogs will retreat and the bears are likely to pursue them.”

Horejsi said there needs to be more enforcement of bylaws, closures and warnings into bear country.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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