The hunter who killed a notorious female grizzly bear in B.C. after the bear wandered into the province from Alberta knew the animal was wearing a research tracking collar, but shot it anyway.
The Alberta government had moved the grizzly, known as Bear 148, in July from its home range in a popular developed area west of Calgary to a remote park north of Jasper to protect public safety.
The grizzly, which is a threatened species in Alberta, hadn’t hurt anyone but had gotten too close to people too many times around the Canmore and Banff area.
The B.C. Conservation Officer Service said the bear was shot on Sunday in the McBride region by a non-resident hunter who was with a guide.
“The guide and hunter knew that the bear was collared prior to harvest,” the service said in an email. “This was a legal hunt and no investigation is underway.”
No information on the hunter was given.
Last month, B.C. announced it would end the grizzly bear trophy hunt as of Nov. 30, saying it is inconsistent with the values of most British Columbians.
READ MORE: Grizzly bear trophy hunt to end Nov. 30
Brett Boukall, a senior wildlife biologist with Alberta Environment, said data from Bear 148’s tracking collar suggests the grizzly had not been a problem before it was killed.
“It was kind of being the perfect bear doing bear things away from people,” he said. ”To my knowledge, there had been no reports of any conflicts.”
After the bear was relocated in July, it wandered around its new range in the northern Alberta wilderness.
The tracking data suggests it crossed into B.C. on Friday after a storm dumped snow in the region, perhaps making it more difficult for it to find food, Boukall said. It was wandering toward the Fraser River when it was shot.
“Myself and my colleagues felt disappointed that this has occurred, but at the same time recognized that this is something that is a part of being a bear in today’s busy landscape with the ability for legal harvest on the B.C. side,” he said.
Conservationists are concerned about the death of Bear 148, which was nearing the age to have cubs.
Candace Batycki of the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative said the fact the bear had to be relocated from its home range in the highly developed Bow Valley west of Calgary shows how difficult it is for grizzlies to survive.
Batycki said more must be done to protect them.
“Bear 148 was not in a protected area when she was killed but she was in grizzly bear habitat,” she said. “Her death highlights the need for collaborative cross-border conversation between B.C. and Alberta.”
Alberta Environment Minister Shannon Phillips called the death of Bear 148 a case of bad timing.
“The new government has not moved forward with their regulations yet because they are new and the grizzly hunt remains legal across the border in British Columbia.”
There are about 700 grizzly bears in Alberta. It has been illegal to hunt grizzlies in the province since 2006.
John Cotter, The Canadian Press