The Conservation Officer Service (COS) have asked owners and land managers to close the trails temporarily on the west side of Mount Fernie Provincial Park (MFPP) and part of the F.A.R. ski hill area accessing the Lizard Creek (Gorby Creek trail network) after a sow grizzly bear was shot and injured by a hiker on Wednesday, Oct. 2.
Two adults were hiking on the Galloway trail near Gorby trail when they came across a sow grizzly bear with two 2-year old cubs that were feeding on a moose carcass.
Initially the sow came towards the hikers and diverted into the bushes with her two cubs. The sow came out from the bushes without the cubs and came at the hikers. The male hiker had a high-powered rifle and discharged one shot at the sow that was 10 to 15 feet away. When the shot hit the sow, she went into the grass by the trail allowing the hikers to depart the area. The hikers notified COS as soon as they got out of the area by mid afternoon. The hiker had the appropriate license for the firearm.
COS initiated an investigation of the area in the evening of Oct. 2 until it became dark. COS returned to the area on Thursday, Oct. 3 looking for the bear. COS notified Island Lake Lodge, Fernie Alpine Resort and B.C. Parks requesting they tell their guests and flag off trails warning of an injured bear in the area.
COS followed a blood trail for 75 to 100 yards which headed towards a creek with thick brush. Due to safety reasons the search was called off.
“Dealing with an injured sow with cubs and a food source at a crucial time of year is high risk situation,” said COS Joe Caravetta. “Our hearing ability was compromised because of the creek noise and a bear would not be able to smell us as the wind was coming towards us.”
The area is closed for approximately 10 days to give scavengers time to eat the moose carcass.
COS is relying on the public to report any bear sightings in the area.
“There are two possibilities with the sow grizzly,” said COS Joe Caravetta “The bear perished in the bushes and we hope the cubs will return to their winter dens from last year. Or the bear is still alive and continues to feed preparing for winter. If she’s not dead, she could return to the moose carcass to feed.”
With that in mind, the trails in the area are closed until after the Thanksgiving weekend in hopes scavengers will eat the remains of the moose. There is the real possibility that other bears may come to feed on the moose carcass. The areas closed are the west end trails of Mount Fernie Provincial Park, F.A.R. trails leading into the MFPP and the southwest property of Island Lake Lodge.