White grizzly bear sighting in Banff National Park sparks wildlife safety concerns

Published: June 19, 2020

white grizzly bear pictured in the forest, taken with a trail camera Photo by Parks Canada

A recent sighting of a rare white grizzly bear in Banff National Park has triggered new conversations about the threat people can pose to the safety of bears and wildlife.

white grizzly bear climbing up a snowy hill
Photo by Parks Canada

Parks Canada has been monitoring the bear for some time, and it is known to travel between Banff and Yoho national parks. This grizzly and their brown-haired sibling are still quite young, they’re believed to be about three and a half years old and are in the second year away from their mother.

white grizzly bear and brown grizzly bear near a tree, taken with a trail cam
Photo by Parks Canada

According to Parks Canada, “the unique white colour of the grizzly is believed to be caused by a natural colour phase variation.” Though grizzlies are usually brown, black, or blonde, this colouring has been seen before.

After reports of people flocking to the park to try and catch a glimpse of the bear and witnesses seeing people get too close in an attempt to take photos, Parks Canada issued a statement, cautioning the public from further disturbing the bear.

Increased human interaction can be dangerous for bears and other wildlife, particularly around roads and highways. Wildlife that become comfortable around humans in these areas are at greater risk for being struck by a vehicle. If you do encounter an animal near the road, Parks Canada asks that you do not stop. If you do stop, make sure you stay in your vehicle to give the animal the space it needs. And remember: you should never feed wildlife in any national park.

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