The temperature might still be in the negatives in some parts of Canada, but spring has finally arrived in Banff National Park with the first confirmed bear sighting.
Bear No. 122, a grizzly known to locals as The Boss, was caught on camera on March 19 near a research site that’s studying how to reduce bear mortality on the rail lines in the park.
This is the first sighting not only in Banff, but also in Yoho and Kootenay parks in Southeastern British Columbia.
“Currently, he’s the only bear that we’re aware of that’s active, but if he’s up than it’s likely not long before other larger male grizzly bears start appearing as well,” said human wildlife conflict specialist Brianna Burley, in an interview with the Calgary Sun.
This isn’t the first time The Boss has captured the media’s attention. In 2013, the grizzly became famous when he devoured a small black bear, causing the park to close off trails near his feasting site. Earlier this month, DNA testing revealed that The Boss was the father of at least five cubs in the park, a revelation worthy of the Maury Show-style treatment. (In an interview with the Calgary Herald, human-wildlife conflict specialist Steve Michel said there’s a high likelihood he’s the father of other bears, too.)
Although Banff experienced a warmer spring this year, the weather likely didn’t affect hibernation. Adult male bears tend to wake up around the end of March, while females won’t start appearing for another eight weeks.
Now that the bears are coming out, park officials are reminding visitors to be safe out on the trails.
“Typically, this time of year we find bears at lower elevations, so it’s a really good reminder for people, especially given these warmer temperatures, if they are going out hiking or walking or skiing to be cognizant that it wouldn’t be out of the question to bump into a grizzly bear this time of year,” said Burley.
On Facebook, the Banff National Park reminded visitors to carry bear spray, keep dogs on leash, hike in groups and make noise on trails to reduce the risk of startling wildlife.