Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Bear safety

I know I'm terribly far behind in posting the latest hikes, but with the news the past couple of days, I thought this was as good of time as any to post some important links on bear safety and awareness.

The bears are out. A young woman was killed in Invermere after a black bear attack and two cyclists in Banff were attacked by a grizzly bear protecting her cubs on the Aylmer Pass trail. They escaped without serious injury and the trail is now closed (possibly for the season).

On a much lesser scale, D and I saw two separate black bears near hiking trails and campgrounds in Waterton Park on Friday. The bears seemed completely unconcerned with the number of humans in the area (and there were a lot).

The Banff National Park website is an excellent resource for local bear info. Start with the Bear Update page for the most recent updates (this page indicates some trails in the area may soon have a groups of 4+ only restriction - this is already in effect in the Moraine Lake area).

Tips for avoiding bears while hiking and for safety during an encounter or attack are located in the Bear Management section of the Banff National Park website.

If you're not sure what bear tracks look like, this graphic from IdahoPTV is a great resource.

Finally, always check for trail advisories and reports before heading out on any hike, walk, ride or overnight trip. For Banff, trail reports are available at Banff trail reports. Other areas near Calgary/Banff (such as Kananaskis, Sibbald, Spray Lakes, Bow Valley, Elbow Valley, Canmore, Sheep Valley and more) are available at Kananaskia Country trail report. Both sites list the bear warnings and trail closures at the top of the page, but the reports themselves are pretty useful to get the conditions of the trails.

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