Evolution of Bear Management in the Mountain National Parks
Park Superintendents are reminded to ensure signs warning the public
not to feed bears are posted.
A tourist approaches a grizzly for a photograph and is bitten.
In correspondence about ‘the bear problem’, Jasper’s
Superintendent writes, “… the only solution to the
problem that I can see, is the inauguration of an intensive educational
campaign whereby information on the habits of wild animals will
be available to the traveling public and also the erection of suitable
signs calling the attention of tourists to the fact that all animals
are dangerous if irritated.”
A sow grizzly with two cubs injures two men hiking in Yoho National
Yoho’s Superintendent is bitten by a grizzly bear that he
and his young son encounter while hiking in the park. He believes
it’s the same bear involved in the 1939 incident. He directs
all wardens in Yoho and Glacier to destroy any grizzly bears they
observe on sight in busy visitor areas. This becomes wide spread
policy in all the mountain parks until the early 1950s.
Concerned about this policy, Dr. C.H.D. Clarke of the National
Wildlife Branch notes, “Grizzly bears are not common anywhere
and are seldom seen by tourists. They require wilderness conditions.
They have every right to be considered as a fundamental element
of the wilderness of our National Parks, and as such entitled to
our protection. They also merit from human wanderers into their
domain the observance of simple cautions that will avoid trouble
Fliers titled, “Keep Away from Bears” and “Bears
are Dangerous” are distributed to discourage feeding of bears.
A bear pamphlet, “Don’t Blame the Bears”, is
Bear viewing at dumps is a popular pastime. Banff Avenue sports
a large sign directing visitors ‘to the bears’ –
at the town dump (mid to late 1950s). Hand feeding of bears along
roadsides and in campgrounds results in a growing number of human
The use of culvert bear traps and relocation
becomes a common bear management tool from 1950s into 1980s. Relocated
garbage conditioned bears often returned, and repeat offender were
An amendment to the National Parks Game Regulations makes the act
of touching, feeding or enticing bears unlawful.
A rabies outbreak in Alberta results in an extensive predator control
program, and an undocumented number of grizzly bears are trapped,
shot and poisoned in Banff National Park. The program continues
in the province until 1955.
The National Park Interpretive Service is created.
A young child killed by a black bear at tourist bungalows south
of Jasper focuses increased attention on garbage and bear management.
A policy to bury garbage at park dumps is initiated.
The first charge is laid for bear feeding.
The first bear management guidelines are issued to provide direction
on use of bear-proof garbage bins, garbage management, enforcement
of ‘no feeding’ regulations, visitor and park resident
education, and the destruction of bears frequenting public areas.
John and Frank Craighead begin a 12-year study of grizzly bears
in Yellowstone National Park. They pioneer the development and use
of radio-tracking collars and telemetry.
The first grizzly killed by a car on the Trans-Canada Highway in
Banff National Park is documented.
Park visitation doubles in Banff and Jasper National Parks from
Large concentrations of grizzly bears begin to gather at garbage
dumps at townsites and other developments.
Signs are erected along park highways warning against approaching
and feeding bears. A pamphlet entitled “Bear Facts”
Animal immobilizing drugs become available to park wardens. This
allows bears caught in culvert traps to be closely examined and
data collected on age, sex, weight, etcetera, along with use of
coded ear tags.
The use of bait to hunt grizzly bears is outlawed in Alberta.
The Trans-Canada Highway is completed.
Research on grizzly bear ecology is completed in Glacier National
The first comprehensive National Parks Policy is released.
The use of bait to hunt grizzly bears is outlawed in British Columbia.
Two young women are killed on the same night in two separate incidents
by two different grizzly bears in Glacier National Park, Montana.
Bear management comes under intense scrutiny in national parks.
National Parks Garbage Regulations are passed. A “Carry In
– Carry Out” program for backcountry garbage becomes
policy. A publication titled “Bear Facts” is printed.
Efforts to develop a bear proof garbage bin continue.
In the fall, 23 different grizzly bears are recorded during a six-hour
period at the Lake Louise dump.
The Jasper dump is moved east of town and fenced. An electric fence
is built around it in 1981; it later becomes a trade waste pit and
composting area. Starting in 1992, Jasper’s garbage is shipped
to a regional landfill outside the park.
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