ALBERTA
08/17/2014 11:17 EDT | Updated 10/17/2014 05:59 EDT

Banff Seeing 'Unprecedented' Wildlife Incidents, Says Ecologist

George Rose via Getty Images
LAKE LOUISE, CANADA - JUNE 27: An adult grizzly bear walks through a nearby campground and picnic area on June 27, 2013 in Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada. Major flooding along the Bow River in June washed out the Trans-Canada Highway 1 for nearly a week, forcing park visitors to cancel their vacation plans. (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)
There have been an "unprecedented" number of wildlife incidents in Banff National Park this year, says a wildlife ecologist.

Staff have dealt with more than 1,000 encounters, ranging from bears looking for food in tents and bluff-charging hikers, to people encountering elk in the town site. Part of the problem could lie in the late spring thaw.

"A large part of those probably are bear incidents and we know that this year in particular, the snow really persisted for quite a long time in the spring and into the summer at higher elevations," said David Gummer, a wildlife ecologist at the park. "We did see bears congregating in the low-lying valley bottoms, where we also have a lot more activity from people, so that probably accounts for a large part of the increase."

Gummer says there are also a lot of young bears trying to mark out territory for themselves and are ending up in areas closer to humans.

In comparison to previous years, Gummer says the wildlife encounters in 2014 have been 33 per cent more frequent.

Park staff are still working to manage all of the calls that come in, but he says people need to remember to obey wildlife warnings or closure signs and keep a watch out for animals.

There have been no injuries to people from bears in Banff National Park this year.

Gummer says bears will likely be coming back down to lower areas in search of berries and food before heading into hibernation.

He says so far, park staff have noticed the berry crops are not as abundant as past years.

That means bears will likely have to search far and wide for food sources.