Grizzly bear killed after being hit by semi on highway in Banff National Park

Highway 93 makes its way through Banff National Park, Alta. on Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Jeff McIntosh

A male grizzly bear has been killed after being hit by a semi truck in Banff National Park.

The collision happened just after midnight Tuesday on Highway 93 South near the Trans-Canada Highway.

READ MORE: Fish and Wildlife looks for answers after young grizzly shot in northern Alberta

Parks Canada resource conservation manager Bill Hunt said the highway is not fenced in that area. Speed is not believed to have been a factor because it’s an uphill section of road.

“The trucks are usually fairly slow up that section,” he said in an interview with The Canadian Press. “Certainly the fellow stopped and phoned it in right away and took responsibility, so that was a positive part of this — that he actually reported it.

“We often get animal strikes … where people don’t report. It’s certainly best if they do call in.”

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READ MORE: Part of Banff National Park closed after bear damages tent in campground

The driver was not injured, but wildlife staff found the 135-kilogram bear dead when they arrived at the scene.

“It did have an ear-tag hole in one ear, so it’s probably a bear we handled,” said Hunt.

More than a dozen bruins were collared and tagged during a recent research project into how to reduce the risk of being hit by trains, one of the leading causes of grizzly bear deaths in the park.

Watch below (May 9, 2017): A group of hikers sought refuge in a Parks Canada truck after a grizzly bear chased them in Banff National Park this week.

Click to play video: 'Video shows hikers waiting in a Parks Canada truck after being chased by a grizzly bear'
Video shows hikers waiting in a Parks Canada truck after being chased by a grizzly bear

Hunt said Tuesday’s death was the first human-caused grizzly bear mortality in the national park in five years.

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Survival of the species is considered critical because grizzly bears are threatened in Alberta. Based on recent research, officials estimate there are about 60 to 65 grizzlies in Banff National Park.

READ MORE: Grizzly swipes, bites at hiker on Lake Minnewanka Trail in Banff

“We are still in very good shape, but certainly it’s something we work very hard to prevent with highway mitigations and speed limits,” said Hunt. “The key thing that can come out of this is just reminding everyone that we do have a 90-kilometre (an hour) speed limit and this is why.

“It’s because we do still end up with wildlife on the highways.”

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