Peter Holub has seen a lot of wildlife during his five years living in Canmore but the manager of Gaucho Brazilian Barbecue has never had to clean up the paw prints of an unexpected guest.
“You could hear the people screaming, ‘Bear, bear!’ But I didn’t realize the bear could come in. I saw him jump in here so it was a big surprise,” said Holub on Monday.
He was working behind the bar in the popular restaurant on Main Street when the bear walked in the open front doors on Sunday.
The black bear that had first been spotted walking several blocks away, near the Safeway, managed to get into the front of the restaurant at around 7 p.m. that night.
The bear’s bold move stunned diners, who were seemingly even more distressed than the bear, as they leapt up off their chairs.
“People at this table, they were already on the table,” Holub recalled.
“They jumped on the table, and there was another family sitting right in the corner. They were kind of calm, but people were kind of happy because everyone wants to see a bear in Canmore. I think it was a big surprise.”
The bear bolted out and darted along the patio tables. Fortunately, it was a chilly evening and patrons were watching from the inside. The bruin stopped again to peer inside one more time before hopping over a fence.
RCMP and Alberta Fish and Wildlife officers responded, following the bear as it ran a few blocks to the Bow River before it went out of sight.
“The bear never charged or made any behaviour that would cause concern for public safety. He was moving through the community and unfortunately, he ended up at a restaurant,” said Cpl. Sabrina Clayton with the Canmore RCMP detachment.
While downtown bear sightings are rare, people living in Canmore say it comes with sharing a busy wildlife corridor.
“We have elk on the grass right here and we have them in our backyard,” said Lynne Harrison, who lives on the street the bear ran down.
“We have coyotes and we’ve seen wolves in the wintertime right in our backyard so a bear down Main Street is not that strange.”
As for the tourists who almost got to share a meal with a bear, Holub figures they’re going home with stories warning about how wild downtown Canmore can get.
“Probably they’ll say carry bear spray even if you go on Main Street — you can meet the wildlife everywhere,” Holub said.
WATCH: Some tourists are leaving Canmore with a story after a bear wandered down Main Street and took an unexpected turn on Sunday. Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports.
Wildlife officers have not received any calls from the public about this particular bear. However, a government spokesperson said it appears to be collared, so officers are looking into it.
“If there are concerns that the bear is posing a risk to public safety, we ask that people report the incident to the 24-hour Report A Poacher line at 1-800-642-3800,” said Lisa Glover, communications advisor with Justice and Solicitor General.
Residents of Canmore can help keep both bears and people safe by following these strategies:
- Store garbage in bear-resistant and odour-proof containers or buildings
- Clean up or remove any possible attractants as soon as possible to avoid habituation of wildlife
- Home and business owners are encouraged to keep doors and windows secure from wildlife entering them (Keep garage doors, front doors and any other door that can be accessed by wildlife closed)
- Do not leave pet food outside
- Clean barbecues after each use and keep barbecues in a bear-resistant structure if possible
According to the Town of Canmore, bylaw services has issued five warnings and two tickets under the Wildlife Attractants Bylaw so far this year.