Alberta Grizzlies May Be Adapting To Avoid People, Study Suggests

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Bears and humans encounters are a frequent occurrence during Alberta summers, but a study suggests grizzlies may be adapting their behaviour to avoid people.

Researcher Cheryl Hojnowski has been tracking the movement of grizzlies and people in Kananaskis for the past three years.

"... if you're a bear in the front country, then success for you probably depends on adjusting your behaviour around people, being aware of people and being a bit wary of people."

She said she's observed bears in the front country — a term for high-traffic campgrounds and hiking areas — change their behaviour at specific times.

“I think there’s a philosophical question we can ask … are we creating the grizzly bear of the future in the front country? Because if you’re a bear in the front country, then success for you probably depends on adjusting your behaviour around people, being aware of people and being a bit wary of people," Hojnowski told the Rocky Mountain Outlook.

In some cases, according to Hojnowski, bears would frequent roads at night when there are fewer vehicles — and avoid them during the day.

The data could be used to determine future infrastructure projects in Alberta's parks to keep bear and human habitats separate, the Crag and Canyon reported.

Food-conditioned wildlife

Human-wildlife interactions have been a cause for concern recently with a number of incidents featuring food-conditioned animals.

A wolf was killed in June when it got too close to visitors at Tunnel Mountain campground, and nine bears were euthanized in Revelstoke, B.C., after they got into residents' garbage.

Towns like Banff and Canmore have started removing crabapple trees so bears will steer clear.

"We don't want to create attractants. We don't want to create opportunities for wildlife to think about the developed spaces as areas where they can get food," Banff town manager Robert Earl told CBC News.

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