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4th grizzly killed along Trans-Canada Highway in B.C. park this month

FILE - In this July 6, 2011, file photo, a grizzly bear roams near Beaver Lake in Yellowstone National Park, Wy. (AP Photo/Jim Urquhart, File) FILE - In this July 6, 2011, file photo, a grizzly bear roams near Beaver Lake in Yellowstone National Park, Wy. (AP Photo/Jim Urquhart, File)
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Another grizzly bear has been struck and killed by a driver in B.C.'s Yoho National Park this month, officials confirmed.

In an emailed statement to CTV News Vancouver, Parks Canada confirmed a fourth grizzly bear was killed along the Trans-Canada Highway, which goes through the park near Field, B.C.

Parks Canada said it received a report around midnight on Saturday, saying a grizzly had been hit along an unfenced section of the highway. A wildlife team responded and confirmed the bear had been killed.

"In early spring, bears return to the valley bottoms find food sources," the statement from Parks Canada said. "This year, with snow persisting at higher elevations longer than normal, bears are foraging for food at lower elevations longer than they typically would. This has led to higher than average levels of bear activity in the valleys and along roads."

Earlier this month, Parks Canada confirmed a rare white grizzly bear named Nakoda and her two new cubs were killed in separate crashes on the same day. 

Parks Canada announced Nakoda's death on Monday, four days after the crashes that ultimately claimed her life and those of her cubs. Nakoda's cubs were struck and killed by a vehicle on the highway last Thursday. About 12 hours later, Nakoda was hit too, between the Lake O'Hara access road and Wapta Lake.

"The loss of any grizzly bear has an impact. The loss of a breeding-age adult female grizzly bear in particular has impact on the grizzly bear population in Banff, Yoho, and Kootenay national parks as these females contribute to population growth and stability," Parks Canada's statement said. "Losing one not only reduces the current number of bears but can also impact future population dynamics."

Parks Canada explained a 28-kilometre stretch of fencing was electrified along the Trans-Canada Highway in 2023, in an effort to discourage Nakoda – identified as "GB178" by wildlife officials – from accessing the highway. But on June 5 of this year, she was spotted going over a fencepost near a wildlife crossing underpass, where a gap in the electrification exists. Wildlife management specialists were working to close that gap on June 6, the day Nakoda was struck and killed.

"GB178 specifically was comfortable spending time along the roadside due to how habituated to humans she was. The significant interest from visitors to the park and motorists travelling the highway led to her having a very high level of human interaction which caused her to become overly comfortable along the Trans-Canada Highway," Parks Canada's statement said.

"Bears that become habituated to people often have negative outcomes … When thousands of visitors stop for just a few moments each year to watch a roadside bear, it gradually habituates the bear to people. It's crucial to minimize these encounters to protect both the bears and the visitors, helping the bears maintain their natural behaviours."

Provincial data for the first four months of the year shows two other grizzly bears were killed in the province between January and April, one by conservation officers and another from another cause.

Parks Canada said the population of grizzly bears in Banff, Yoho and Kootenay national parks is "relatively stable" over the past 10 years. It's estimated approximately 90 grizzly bears live in those three national parks.

With files from The Canadian Press 

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