The ursine equivalent of smelling an apple pie cool on a windowsill is what officials believe is the reason for a known grizzly bear to recently enter the Banff townsite.
On Sept. 23, a large grizzly was seen eating crab apples that had fallen to the ground in a backyard.
That bear was identified as Bear 122, or “The Boss,” as locals know him.
The Boss, weighing in at nearly 650 pounds, returned for the next couple of days, bluff-charging residents and continuing to feed on the apples.
Parks Canada staff used things like noise makers and flags to “haze” the bear, causing him to leave the townsite.
With the prolific visitor out of Banff, the town is trying to work with residents to manage things like fruit trees that might attract other visitors. The Town of Banff is offering free removal of fruit trees.
“In all cases, we’re really encouraging people to just take those trees down. They’re a pretty big wildlife attractant,” said Michael Hay, the Town of Banff’s manager of environment.
Things change if a bear gets into a tree on a resident’s property.
“Then that becomes a public safety incident and it also becomes a major risk to that bear’s life,” Hay said. “Our new bylaw that was passed in August actually allows us to step in and remove that tree even without getting the owner’s permission.”
Has the town had to use the bylaw yet?
“No, I’m very happy to say, and I really hope we never have to,” Hay said. “We’ve had really great uptake in the program in the last couple of weeks. Even so, I’m very optimistic that I’ll never have to use that.”
Nick de Ruyter, WildSmart program director at the Biosphere Institute of the Bow Valley, said bears like The Boss that come into town on the scent of fruit trees are doing what comes naturally.
“They are just doing their own thing, following their nose, following their stomach,” de Ruyter told Global News. “This time of year is so important for them to get those extra calories for the upcoming winter hibernation. But those calories shouldn’t be coming from fruit trees in our backyards or our garbage. Those should be coming from natural food sources outside of the town.”
Bears that find a ready food source like a tree will become protective of it, he said.
“Whether it’s a carcass or a fruit tree and they will protect it potentially aggressively.”
The typical course of action for bears who repeatedly visit residences to find food is relocation and possibly euthanization.
“Either of those scenarios aren’t great for the bear,” de Ruyter said.
The WildSmart program director said all of those interactions are preventable.
“If people aren’t going to remove their trees, then they need to be very diligent and remove the fruit before it’s ripe before it’s too late. Once a bear is in your tree, it’s too late.”
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