A platinum-blond grizzly living in the Rockies along the Continental Divide is up, active and hungry from her winter's rest.
Lucky for Bear 178, whom locals have nicknamed Nakoda, the Trans-Canada Highway ditches in Banff and Yoho parks provide a ripe, lush, green and yellow buffet this time of year — full of dandelions free for the eating.
And there's little standing between Nakoda and her next roadside meal — not even the wildlife fencing installed to keep her and other animals safe from cars and trucks.
"She was up, up, and over that fence. Very, very graceful," said hobby photographer Gary Tattersall.
"I was surprised she was able to dance on the top of the pole and come down bum-first. I was amazed at her agility."
Tattersall spotted Nakoda at the end of May — her unique colouring makes her stand out from the rest. The last time he saw her was when she was still with her mother as a cub. The bear is now 6½ years old.
"The park staff came in and did their job and got her on the other side of the fence, which is good because I don't want to see her get killed," Tattersall said.
Parks Canada wildlife ecologist Seth Cherry said Bear 178 learned how to climb as a cub.
"She grew up in the Yoho and Banff area and spent time along the edge of the highway and did learn to climb that fence, I think when she was a lighter weight and smaller. But she's still doing it into adulthood," Cherry said.
Last year, Nakoda was relocated within her home range because she was hanging out on the highway and near train tracks. But this year, Parks Canada has a new obstacle for the nimble bear.
Staff are putting up 15 kilometres of electric wiring on fences west of Lake Louise into the Yoho Park border — in part to stop the white bear from climbing over for a snack.
Cherry said Bear 178 has been caught climbing a few times already this year. But she's not the only grizzly that has learned this trick.
Work to add electric wiring to fences started over the winter. Cherry said they are now prioritizing more popular areas where bears are active.
"So far, that seems to be working well in areas where we've got it up and running," Cherry said.
This isn't the first time Parks Canada has taken this step. Similar wires have been used in Banff National Park where black bears, which are known for their climbing, were hopping the fence.
Nick De Ruyter, the WildSmart program director at the Biosphere Institute of the Bow Valley, said this is the time of year when bears come down to the valley bottoms to feast on anything they can find. Typically, dandelions are an easy bet for spring.
The problem, he said, is a lot of ditches are lined with the weed. And once bears learn where to find that easy chow, they will return.
"That's what's so so tricky," De Ruyter said.
Electric fencing, he added, seems like a good deterrent that he's seen work in other locations.
"Any mitigation efforts they can do to help, you know, keep those bears off the highway and safe is a good thing," he said.
Even if it means he won't see Nakoda on the road again, Tattersall thinks anything that can protect the bear is a good idea.
"I'm all for it," Tattersall said. "It's nice to see her on the wrong side of the fence because you get better pictures, but I don't care about the pictures. I just want to see her survive."