08/03/2012 04:03 EDT | Updated 10/03/2012 05:12 EDT

Tourists spotted baiting Banff grizzlies with meat

Parks Canada officials say tourists tried to bait a grizzly bear and her three offspring with sandwich meat in Banff last week.

Human wildlife conflict specialist Steve Michel says a van of visitors from China saw Bear 64 and her cubs by the side of the road when someone threw sandwich meat out the window to try to bring them closer.

Michel says the person who witnessed the incident wasn't sure if the bears got the food.

“[From] the reports that we had from the eyewitness and the interview that took place with the driver, we're not aware that the bears were able to access the food so we're hoping that that is the case,” he said.

Michel says the tourists have gone home, but they are speaking to the van driver — who had rented the vehicle from a tour company.

He says law enforcement is checking whether there will be any charges.

Michel says this latest case of trying to feed bears highlights an increase in similar cases.

“We have had some reports in a variety of areas, roadside areas, of wildlife being fed and that's extremely concerning to us because this is a problem we thought we had solved many years ago,” he said.

On July 18, Parks Canada issued a wildlife alert asking motorists to drive carefully and refrain from feeding animals on mountain park roads.

The alert was issued because seven black bears have been killed on roads in Banff, Yoho and Kootenay national parks this year, with speed believed to have played a major role, and after a visitor submitted photos to Parks Canada showing rice cakes being fed to wolves.