A wounded bear is possibly still on the loose after a hiker shot and injured it Saturday in Jasper National Park.
A person called Jasper Dispatch to report their friend had shot a black bear with a 20-gauge shotgun on the Overlander Trail, about seven kilometres east of the trailhead, according to an email from Parks Canada.
The pair saw the bear about 30 metres away when one hiker fired a warning shot toward it. The animal reacted but did not run away, so the hiker shot again, according to Parks Canada. The bear then rolled down a short creek bank and the pair left the scene immediately. The extent of the bear's injuries are unknown, but blood was found at the scene.
"The search for the bear was very challenging due to due dense forest conditions and topography," the email read, in part.
"Injured bears can be very aggressive when encountered in close quarters, so any further searches must be approached with extreme caution."
As of Monday, the trail is still closed and Parks Canada says they will be conducting more sweeps before the trail reopens. Staff want to make sure the bear is away from the trail and not severely injured. If it is severely injured, staff may kill the bear, and if it's dead, the body may be moved away from the trail, Parks Canada said.
"For a hiker to be hiking on one of our various hiking trails with a loaded firearm and use that as a tool of self-protection, that's unprecedented," Dave Argument, resource conservation manager for Jasper National Park, said Monday.
"The statistics on bear encounter incident rates really support the fact that the tool of choice to improve your safety in bear country is making sure you carry bear spray [and] that you know how to use it."
Argument also said travelling in a group and making noise while you hike is important, too.
The person who shot the bear was charged with "several counts" under the Canada National Parks Act, according to Parks Canada. The investigation is ongoing.