Black Bear Shot By Warden Near Lake Louise

Alberta News, Bear Hunting Magazine

Results are expected any day from a DNA test that will determine whether a black bear shot and killed in Lake Louise on Tuesday is the same one that attacked a local resident, Charisse D'hamers, two weeks ago. A warden patrolling the Tramline Trail above Lake Louise Drive encountered the bear at about 11 in the morning from about 70 meters. The bear continued to within 20 meters of the warden and began to encircle him, displaying "typical predatory behaviour," Parks Canada chief park warden Bill Hunt said.

"Based on the bear's description and behavior, he destroyed the bear," Hunt said. "The bear clearly saw him and proceeded toward him. The bear's bold and aggressive behaviour is unusual for the Mountain Parks region."

The Continental Divide Trail, where D'hamers was running when she was attacked on July 16, has remained closed since the attack and additional closures were put in place over the weekend on trails between the Lake Louise village and the Chateau Lake Louise following two more aggressive black bear encounters.

On Saturday, a woman was bluff charged while walking near Lake Louise Creek, not far from the Continental Divide trailhead where D'hamers emerged following the July 16 attack.

At 6 a.m. on Sunday morning, a man on Lake Louise Drive encountered an aggressive black bear on the steep slope on the road's north side. The man was able to flag down a passing vehicle and avoid an encounter, but the bear followed him to the vehicle, Parks Canada chief park warden Bill Hunt said.

The incident occurred in the same area where Tuesday's bear was shot. Without DNA from the two recent encounters, there will never be conclusive evidence matching the dead bear to the two weekend incidents. However, results are expected within the next couple days to determine whether the animal is the one that attacked D'hamers.

In the meantime, a description D'hamers gave following the attack of a smaller-sized black bear with a brownish matted coat matches that of the bear killed yesterday. D'hamers, who received more than a half dozen bite wounds after she encountered a black bear eight kilometers from Lake Louise on the Continental Divide Trail, also told investigators the bear that attacked her had an obvious scar on its hind leg. Hunt said there was no sign of the scar on the recently shot animal.

An initial autopsy performed Tuesday showed no signs of why the animal acted aggressively, indicating the bear was healthy and had been eating berries. Another black bear killed the same day by a vehicle on Highway 93 north, about 20 kilometers from Lake Louise, will also be tested to see if it is a match with D'hamers' attacker.

The Continental Divide Trail, which begins at Lake Louise Drive and extends west into Yoho National Park, remains closed and three traps previously set on the trail were moved into the new closure area.

Trail closures and traps will remain in place until Parks officials are certain the threat has been removed from the area, Hunt said. With all trails connecting the Lake Louise village with the Chateau Lake Louise closed, only the 4.5-kilometer stretch of Lake Louise Drive is available for travelling between the two.

Hunt said the decision to destroy a bear is never taken lightly within the Parks service. "You've only got a few moments to make those decisions. We're very aware no one likes to see a bear die, but we also don't want to see anyone get hurt," he said.

D'hamers, an avid outdoors woman who has been in Lake Louise more than a year, expressed sadness about the bear's death, but acknowledged the danger posed by its aggressive behavior.

With buffalo berries just ripening in the valley bottoms, bears are intent on feeding for the next six to eight weeks and hikers are reminded to make lots of noise and look for bear signs when travelling through the backcountry.

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