Elkford white bear heads to new Calgary home

The white bear that has shown up again in Elkford, after being relocated last year, has been caught and is on her way to Calgary zoo.

  • Sep. 2, 2013 9:00 a.m.
The white bear after being captured on Saturday.

The white bear after being captured on Saturday.

The white bear that has shown up again in Elkford, after being relocated last year, has been caught and is on her way to Calgary zoo.

Almost exactly a year from when she was captured and relocated further up the valley, she has been captured again and is heading to the zoo.

She was spotted back in Elkford a few weeks ago, getting into garbage, and also reportedly dragged a sleeping bag out of a tent at the campground with children in the area.

A baited trap was set for her, but she refused to go into it, so eventually Conservation officer Joe Garay used a tranquilizer gun to capture her on Friday near Caribou Drive.

“Often once a bear has been caught in a trap once, they won’t go in a second time,” said Conservation Officer Frank de Boon.

“She was caught in a trap last year, so probably learned her lesson.”

On Saturday morning she was taken to Calgary zoo by a biologist from Cranbrook.

An ordinary black bear would probably be euthanized, but because this bear is white-coloured, making it unusual, it has been offered a home at Calgary zoo.

“She’s white and female and unique so she gets a second chance,” said Kathy Murray, WildSafe BC coordinator. “A zoo is better than the alternative.”

“Removing bears (relocation or destruction) is not the answer! It opens up a niche for other bears to move in as long as there is garbage and other attractants available. Removing attractants is a proven method of reducing human/bear conflict.”

Murray said that, while having bears pass through yards is not a problem, rewarding them for it is.

“When a bear gets food in your yard, it doesn’t know that your tolerance for bears is higher than your neighbours’,” she said. “It learns that a house, lawn, bicycle and the faint smell of people comes with an easy meal. It eats, learns and moves on. Eventually, it may find itself somewhere it is not welcome. And when humans and bears are in conflict, the bear dies nearly every time.”

A grizzly sow and cubs have now been spotted by the golf course in Elkford.

“The berries are drying up and the apples are ripening, so the bears will be coming out,” said Murray. “Please remove all the apples from your trees.”

Murray did have some good news too. She said that last week she went garbage tagging in Ridgemont and the Mountain View areas in Fernie, the night before garbage collection. Not one garbage bin had been left out.

“Thank you to all who are bear aware,” she said. “It’s really positive.”