Parks visitors put bears at risk


When one of the most fertile female grizzlies to inhabit Canada's Banff National Park, Bear 30, gave birth to three female cubs in 1994, it was hoped that they would one day follow in their mother's productive footsteps. Sadly, just 10 years later all three cubs—and all four of their offspring—are dead. On May 29, the last surviving member of the trio, Bear 59, was struck and killed by a car. Six of the seven deaths were the result of human activity.

The decline in the grizzly population has been most dramatic at Lake Louise, one of the park's most popular attractions. More than 35,000 cars speed past town on an average summer day. Though park officials have designated a "slow zone" near Lake Louise, they have yet to erect fences, tunnels, or wildlife bridges—measures that have effectively reduced bear fatalities in other areas of the park. Charlie Zinkin, a director at Parks Canada, says this is due to lack of government funding. Meanwhile, bear activists such as park guide Wendy Bush are advising tourists not to pull over on the highway when they see a bear. "Drivers also need to slow the hell down," says Bush.