By Jessica Faulds
The grizzly known as Bear 148 has been having an eventful year. First, the Banff-area bear chased behind a kick-sledder near the Banff Springs Hotel during the winter. Later, in the spring, she followed some hikers, chasing their dog. And finally, she appeared in a school field during a rugby practice.
Up until that point, Parks Canada officials did not consider the bear a candidate for euthanization. However, after the bear charged at a man walking a stroller near Canmore a few weeks ago, officials have said she will be euthanized if she makes any further aggressive actions towards humans.
Surprisingly, however, many members of the community are not happy with this idea. “We want this bear alive, we want this bear protected. She is just as much of a local as I am,” Banff resident Bree Todd told the CBC. Todd and her friend Stacey Sartoretto began a petition to save Bear 148 that has collected over 22,000 signatures so far. The petition points out that the bear’s most recent encounter occurred when it crossed the border into the town of Canmore, but that that area is part of the bear’s traditional home. “Bears don’t understand borders,” the petition says.
It goes on to say that Bear 148 “belongs here and on our landscape, the only home she knows and should not be executed for simply being a bear.”
Todd told the CBC, “If she wanted to kill people and dogs, she could have killed people and dogs already.”
Brent Boukall, a senior wildlife biologist with the government of Alberta, says that the province hopes it will not have to euthanize the bear. “We share the public’s concern for maintaining bears on the landscape. At the end of the day, our No. 1 priority is public safety,” he told the CBC.
Bear 148 wears a GPS collar that broadcasts her location every two hours. At last public report, she has not re-entered Canmore, and hopefully she will stay away from the town — for the good of everyone.