Residents of Green Valley Estates northeast of Cochrane were bear-y relieved after a young grizzly was trapped and removed from a property over the weekend, after damaging a shed and some local beekeepers' equipment.
Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Services received a report about a bear that had destroyed beehives and damaged a wooden shack. The bear had also gotten into bird feeders, apples, berries, and rhubarb at a nearby residence.
Fish and Wildlife officers trapped a small grizzly bear, which will be processed and assessed as per the grizzly bear response guide.
A resident who did not want his name used told The Eagle he had his shed torn apart, which contained some old beekeeping equipment.
Word of a bear sighting had spread around the neighbourhood before the trap was set.
“There’s a few beekeepers around that I think had a visit from the bear, and there’s chickens, fruit trees, there’s a mix of things (the bears) will take an interest in,” he said.
He said he took his chickens away to a friend’s residence as a precaution and took other measures to make the area less attractive to bears.
Based on conversations with neighbours, he estimates the bear had been in the area for about three weeks.
A Fish and Wildlife spokesperson told The Eagle in an email the incident serves as an important reminder that Alberta towns and cities have developed rapidly, and many urban areas have expanded into what was until recently natural wildlife habitat. Thus, it is not uncommon for residents to see wildlife in their communities.
“It is critical that individuals living within close proximity to forested areas and lakes are diligent in taking the necessary steps to ensure attractants are reduced or eliminated,” the statement read. “Bears that enter urban areas to feed on unnatural food sources pose a risk to public safety, because they are easily habituated and may defend the food source.”
Residents can help keep both bears and people safe by following a few bear smart strategies: Storing garbage in bear-resistant and odour-proof containers or buildings until it can be removed from your property; cleaning up and removing any possible attractants as soon as possible to avoid habituation of bears and other wildlife; never leaving pet food outside or stored in areas accessible to bears; avoiding the use of bird feeders from April 1 to Nov. 30; cleaning barbecues and outdoor eating areas after use; storing smokehouses and animal carcasses, including bones, hides and waste, in bear-resistant buildings away from people; properly maintaining or removing gardens and fruit-bearing trees or shrubs, as they can attract bears; considering the use of an indoor composter; aerating outdoor compost piles frequently and covering these with soil or lime, and; not putting meat, fish, oils and milk products in compost piles.
If Cochrane and area residents encounter a bear or other wildlife that may be a public safety concern, they are advised to report the incident to the 24-hour Report a Poacher line at 1-800-642-3800.
For more information on bear safety and ways to reduce the chance of a bear encounter, visit the Alberta Bear Smart Program website: alberta.ca/alberta-bearsmart.aspx.