Some wildlife activists and Banff business owners are voicing disappointment over recently released results of a $1-million, five-year study into bear deaths on train tracks in mountain national parks.
Jim Pissot of WildCanada Conservation Alliance, says the recommendations to create alternative habitat and escape routes, manage vegetation, install early warning systems and electric mats ignore one glaring reason grizzlies are attracted to the tracks — spilled grain from rail cars.
“Bizarrely, after six years of study, Parks Canada and Canadian Pacific have blamed the bears,” said Pissot. “They are determined that the bears, wolves and other wildlife must change their behaviour, but CP will not have to.”
The study found that approximately 110 tonnes of grain is lost on the tracks each year, which is equivalent to the annual nutritional needs of 50 adult grizzlies. In the past 10 years, 10 grizzlies have been killed by trains in Banff and Yoho parks.
But the study’s research team found a number of reasons why bears are attracted to the railway, including ease of movement along the rail corridor, abundance of berries and other plants and, to a lesser extent, spilled grain.