There may be a grizzly bear wandering around Central Alberta.
Two grizzly sightings were reported to the Alberta Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Saturday west of Penhold.
Brendan Cox, Alberta Fish and Wildlife Enforcement spokesperson, said the two calls came from slightly different locations near Penhold at 11:55 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
“These sightings have not been confirmed, but also in terms of the information we have, the bear has not done anything wrong at this point,” said Cox. “It’s in a location people may not be so used to seeing bears, but its behaviour is not something that’s a particular concern at this time.”
The Alberta Fish and Wildlife Enforcement’s reaction to a grizzly bear sighting varies depending on the animal’s actions, Cox said.
“If it’s a sighting where the bear’s not acting aggressive and isn’t getting into garbage … then officers would note it down, but it wouldn’t necessarily be the same reaction you would see if there was an imminent public safety concern or if there was damage to property,” he said.
It’s not every day you see a grizzly in Central Alberta, he added.
“It’s not unheard of for bears to be a little further east, but it is certainly more rare,” he said. “Grizzly bears are much more likely to be seen the closer you get to the mountains and in the … forest areas to the west.”
Cox said never approach a grizzly bear.
“Don’t attract attention to yourself. Just leave the way you came and make your way back to a place the bear can’t get you, like your car or a building,” he said.
If a bear spots you, Cox said you should speak to the bear to let it know you aren’t a prey animal then back away slowly; put trees or other obstacles in between the bear and yourself as well.
Cox said there are precautions people should take to avoid conflicts with wildlife:
- Keep garbage indoors or in tightly sealed containers.
- Put garbage out the morning of pickup instead of the night before to give wildlife less time and opportunity to get to it.
- Clean the barbecue before every use and store it in a garage or shed if possible.
- Remove fruit-bearing plants on your property; if you can’t remove the tree or bush, pick ripened fruit as soon as possible and store it inside, and be diligent about picking up fallen fruit.
- Don’t leave pet food bags or bowls outside.
To report a sighting, call the toll-free number 310-0000 and ask to be directed to the nearest Fish and Wildlife office.