First bear sighting of 2023 reported
The bears have returned to public life in Jasper National Park, as evidenced by the first sighting of a black bear.
“Spring brings important changes to the landscape and to wildlife behaviour in the park, particularly around Jasper townsite. At least one black bear has already been spotted in the valley bottom near the townsite, and grizzly bears are expected soon,” Parks Canada stated in a March 31 notice.
“As you enjoy the forests, mountains, rivers and lakes of Jasper National Park, expect to encounter wildlife.”
The statement further recommends that people brush up on wildlife safety tips and ensure that they have bear spray in their outdoor gear.
“You are responsible for your own safety. Pay attention to closures and warnings, and remain alert when enjoying the park.”
Wildlife is also more active beside roads and highways in the spring, as the animals enjoy newly sprouted vegetation that first appears in those areas. It is very important for everyone to stay in their vehicles when viewing any wildlife.
To avoid an encounter when you are on foot, however, Parks Canada suggests that you be prepared to do the following:
Parks Canada also reminds residents that fruit trees are a major attractant to bears. Such animal behaviour not only poses a risk to public safety but also to the bears themselves as they become habituated to human food.
These trees can be maintained or removed to reduce or eliminate the risk of having a bear in your yard. Parks Canada can remove fruit trees from your property at no charge upon request.
Further information can be obtained by visiting Jasper National Park’s website or by calling the Dispatch.
You can read all important bulletins by visiting www.parkscanada.gc.ca/jasper-alerts. Wildlife safety tips can also be found at www.parkscanada.gc.ca/wildlife-safety.
Scott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh