Adobe Flash Player.
Title Bear Aware
This program contains proximity to wildlife that is not suitable to visitors.
Visitor discretion is advised.
The addict in this show has agreed to be in a documentary about addiction.
He does not know he will soon face an intervention.
Hi, I'm a black bear. I like taking long walks in the park. I really dig digging. And I'm addicted to human food.
John - Rescource Conservation and Public Safety specialist
Bear #401 has gotten a taste for human food at the campgrounds and now he can't get enough
We have a saying in the park [wags finger], a fed bear is a dead bear.
The bear gets addicted to the food and it starts to lose its inhibitions.
Bear #401 started out as a happy young bear.
Joe - Park Visitor
We used to see him frolicking in the meadows off the Bow Valley Parkway when he was a cub.
He comes from a long line of black bears that have been living in this area for years.
One day last year we went for a hike
And #401's mother decided to go and visit Tunnel Mountain campground. She gets there and she can smell and see food on the picnic table.
She was just trying to provide for me the best way she knew how.
When we got back to our campsite, the cooler was all busted up. All that was left was cellophane and empty Twinkie boxes.
She started to bluff charge campers and she became habituated to high visitor-use areas. In spite of all our efforts at aversive conditioning and hazing, we eventually had to destroy her.
They flew me far away. When I woke up, I was alone, somewhere far into the Banff wilderness. I just...needed another pizza pop.
Human food is incredibly addictive to bear. If a bear gets into human food just once, it could become addicted to human food for the rest of its life. If people keep messy campsites, then #401 will end up just as dead as his mother.
Black Bear - #401's mother
Bear #401 hasn't eaten in three days.
Easily accessible human food attracts addicted bears.
I really need that food.
There's no one there.
Bravo 1-9 this is Banff Dispatch, we have a report of a bear causing a disturbance in Tunnel Mountain campground site Kilo 22.
Banff Dispatch this is Bravo 1-9, 10-4, I'm on my way.
Hello Betsy, let's go. Hey Bear!
Addicted bears get aggresive treatment to discourage them from coming back.
The noise of bangers and screamers can teach a bear that the wild is a more welcoming place.
I'm only doing this because I love ya bear!
The Bear Intervention
Bear #401 thinks he's going for his final interview.
He does not know he is about to face a bear intervention.
This addiction is incredibly powerful. He won't want to receive the help we're willing to give him, but we have to be strong within ourselves. So when he comes into the room, don't act as if a bear just walked into the room. We need to fill this room with love. Together we can do this.
Karen van Car - Bear Interventionist
Mom, what are you doing here?
Hi, I'm Karen van Car and we're here because we're concerned about your human food addiction.
Did you want to start?
Bear #401, I love you very much. I enjoy coming to the park year after year and seeing you
and tyour family froliocking in the meadow. I enjoy trying to find you hidden behind a buffaloberry bush off the 1A highway or waltzing around the Lake Minnewanka loop. We're willing to offer you the gift of whole food. We're going to make a committment to put all our crap away. It's either going to be either inside the vehicle, inside a bear proof garbage bin or inside our stomachs.
Do you accept this gift?
No, I'm sorry, I can't do this...
No, no, let him go, let him go. From here on, it's about US. We just have to stop leaving our crap on the tables. Geez, what kind of slobs are you anyway? Clean up after yourself!
Ever since the intervention, Bear #401 spent the summer in the woods and meadows.
Visitors kept their campsites and picnic sites clean.
what can I say? I feel so much better. I mean, i didn't realize that I was at a turning point. Now, life is just basically fantastic.
In 2008, Banff bear #133 got into garbage that was left outside.
A week later he was destroyed because his human food addiction was so strong.
One person was fined $150.
What's wildlife worth to you?
Bear Intervention - Banff National Park
Bear #401 was a beautiful black bear who lived in the lands surrounding the Banff townsite in Banff National Park. Park visitors loved seeing bear #401 and he enjoyed his life in the wild. One day, his mother found an easy food source – food was left lying around by some absent campers. She and bear #401 quickly became addicted to human food. Now, significant effort is needed on the part of all park visitors to ensure that bear #401 and others aren’t encouraged to come back for more. Resource Conservation Specialists must also increase their efforts in attempting to haze the bear away from high visitor use areas.
Despite improvements in human behaviour in recent times, we all still need to be mindful of enabling human behaviour. Leaving food out at campsites and garbage outside your house is a serious danger that only encourages wildlife to become habituated (human food addicted) and can have serious impacts on their survival. We have the ability to keep wildlife free.
Written, edited and produced by: Ray Schmidt and Adam Greenberg
Music: Ray Schmidt and Adam Greenberg
Translation: Amélie Rivera
Actors: Adam Greenberg (Bear #401), John Kellas (John), Frank Osendarp (Joe), Sue Panning, Elijah Panning-Osendarp, Louis Osendarp (Joe's family), Michelle Bohning (Karen van Carr), Nico Tobias (Audio)