Rash of Banff Grizzly Attacks in Suprise Encounters With Sows and Cubs

The Globe and Mail reports a grizzly with a sow attacked hikers on a trail in Banff.

The mother charged at the man in the lead on the trail, knocking him to the ground, chief park warden Ian Syme said. Although severely injured from bites to one hand and arm, the man managed to yank bear spray from his pack to defend himself. The bear fled along the trail, where it encountered the second man, who also used spray to scare it off into the bush. The pair then hiked at least five kilometres to a lodge, where they notified wardens. The injured man was taken to a Calgary hospital and was in stable condition.

That was also the case in a grizzly attack elsewhere in the park last Saturday. A woman hiking near Lake Minnewanka, about 25 kilometres from where the latest attack took place, found herself between a grizzly and her cubs. The hiker tried to hide beside a fallen tree, but the surprised bear swatted at her and knocked her unconscious. When she awoke, the bears were gone, and officials waved off tracking.

Bleeding and shocked, the woman hiked to get help.

The chance of encountering a bear in the backcountry is high at this time of year. From August through September, bears concentrate on feeding to lard on as much weight as possible before heading into dens for the winter

In early June, a grizzly mauled jogger Isabelle Dubé to death on a trail in Canmore, just east of the Banff park gates. Wildlife officials shot the bear. Last week, a black bear killed a 69-year-old man who was picking plums in Manitoba.

Officials advise that people hike in groups. After a bear encounter this year, hikers around Lake Louise were told to stay in groups of no fewer than six. Other precautions include carrying bear spray and watching for fresh tracks and droppings. Above all, hikers should make noise so they don’t startle bears.

“We seem to have this phobia about making noise,” Mr. Syme said. “If people made noise in both cases [the attacks on Wednesday and Saturday] things would have turned out different.”

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