Conservation group mourns death of female Alberta grizzly bear in B.C.

Conservationists are mourning the death of a female grizzly bear that had been moved from a popular area west of Calgary this summer to a remote park in northwest Alberta.

Stephen Legault of the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative said Bear 148 was shot by a hunter on Sunday after wandering into British Columbia from its new home.

Legault said the bear was just becoming old enough to have cubs.

“What is really sad is that we have lost the potential that this grizzly bear represented for the further recovery of the threatened species in Alberta,” he said Wednesday.

He noted that grizzly bears are often killed after being struck on highways and by trains.

“The fact that this bear was killed by a hunter illustrates the fact that there are many threats to these animals.”

The B.C. government plans to ban the killing of grizzly bears for trophy, but not until after this hunting season.

Parks Canada and the Alberta government later confirmed the death of Bear 148.

“This outcome underlines the need for more collaboration across jurisdictions to co-ordinate wildlife and people management at a landscape level,” Parks Canada said in an email.

Bear 148 was moved in July from its range near Banff and Canmore, Alta., to Kakwa Wildland Park.

The bear never hurt anyone but had gotten too close to people dozens of times since it was born in the Banff National Park area six years ago.

Over the summer the grizzly strayed onto a rugby field during a practice, charged a person walking with a stroller and chased dogs out for a walk with their owners.

Murray Langdon, spokesman for Alberta’s Environment and Parks, said staff did what they could to help the bear survive but had to move it to protect public safety.

“Our top priority is to keep Albertans safe and out of harm’s way,” he said in an email. ”Environment and Parks staff members worked hard to provide the best chance of this bear’s survival given its history.”

Legault said the relocation of Bear 148 and its death near McBride, B.C., shows how difficult it is to protect grizzlies even in wilderness areas.

“The situation reflects the need to conserve grizzly bears on a larger landscape scale, beyond park boundaries,” he said.

Legault said more needs to be done to limit development and growth in popular areas such as Canmore.

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