By Laura Keil

News of a grizzly in and around Valemount has travelled fast. While grizzly sightings in the forests around Valemount aren’t unheard of, it is rare, and it’s concerning when the bear may be defending a kill or making more bold incursions into the village. 

With the news of the grizzly mauling in Banff still in recent memory, it’s natural to feel great unease about this bear. These are potentially dangerous creatures and we need to make sure people can stay safe where they live. As one resident suggested, carrying bear spray is a good idea when in proximity to bear habitat. Dogs are not a fail-safe for bears – they can chase the bear away, or the bear can chase the dog directly to you.

I’ve written about better garbage management before, and will say it again: we need a better approach to garbage collection, and better hours at the dump. We are playing with fire and someone may get hurt.

Grizzlies are formidable and not to be messed with. But they are also an important part of the food chain, and help to keep down numbers of black bears, which have been a problem this year as well, as hyperphagia drives them into inhabited areas to feed that insatiable hunger before hibernation. That said, the grizzly’s diet also consists of nuts, berries, roots, and leaves, rodents, and hoofed animals.

As humans living in proximity to their natural habitat, I do feel it’s important to show restraint and to manage ourselves, not just the bears. We live in bear country, after all, and just because we’ve built human roads and trails through it, doesn’t change that. Let’s be a role model town when it comes to bears – both in terms of keeping bears away and keeping people safe.