Bear Activity Report

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Wildlife Activity Report: January 2011

(Banff National Park to Bow Valley Provincial Park)
The following summary is based upon wildlife information provided by government agencies and unconfirmed sightings reported by the public. It is not intended to be used as a real time, complete record of where wildlife is in the valley.
Be aware of your surroundings, know how to reduce the likelihood of encounters, and be prepared should an encounter take place. Always use caution by paying attention to signs of wildlife activity such as scats, tracks, and diggings. Make lots of noise while recreating; hike in groups when possible; carry pepper spray; and obey closures.

Education Tidbit

Many domestic dogs still maintain an instinct to hunt or chase.  A trigger such as a hopping bunny or a running deer/elk can be a stimulus for this instinct to unfold, regardless of how well your dog is trained.  Any fleeing animal will often trigger a dog to chase.  Wildlife forced to run from a chasing dog unnecessarily expend precious energy in order to avoid the perceived predator.  In winter, such energy expenditures can be life threatening if they occur over multiple occasions. This is because many species need to conserve energy reserves just to make it through winter – a time when food resources are of low quality and temperatures are cold.  Useless expenditures of energy may tip the balance between survival and winter mortality.  It can also result in direct injury or death to the wild animal if caught by the dog or indirect injury/death by pushing the wild animal into human use areas such as roads where it may be struck by a passing vehicle. 

Wildlife Activity

There have been no reports of bears in the Bow Valley in recent weeks and we are well into the winter season.  The exact timing of denning varies with sex, age, reproductive status, location, weather.  Bears tend to search out an appropriate den location when food resources diminish, temperatures drop, snow falls, and daylight becomes shorter. Time to excavate a den.   Bear sightings in January are rare although they have been reported.  Winter recreationists should still be aware of their surroundings, make noise and keep bear spray close and in a warm location in case of conflict with other wildlife such as coyotes and cougars. 

No sightings of cougars or coyotes have been reported recently.  Both coyote and cougars are active in the winter and move through the Bow Valley frequently in search of food sources such as deer and elk.  In the past, both species have been known to take off-leash dogs.  Keep pets and children close by when in your yard and on the trail. 

Important Notes

If you encounter an animal (elk, deer, wolf, cougar etc) on the trail or close to you, leave the area. This will prevent the animal from getting used to people. If the animal does approach you, increase your distance. If it persists, try and appear large and speak firmly to the animal. Pick up a large stick if one is handy. Prepare your bear spray and discharge it in the animal’s face if necessary.

Wildlife Cautions/ Closures

Please report all incidents of aggressive coyotes as well as cougar or other unusual wildlife sightings to 403-591-7755. For current postings of Wildlife Warnings and Closures please visit

Important Note:

Please do not use the comment box to report sightings of wildlife.

Report any sightings of a bear, cougar, wolf or any aggressive wildlife in Kananaskis or the Bow Valley to Kananaskis Emergency Services 403.591.7755

For current postings of Bear Warnings, Wildlife Warnings and Closures please visit the following page:
Kananaskis Country - Advisories and Public Safety


  1. Gian-Duri Giger
    Posted January 7, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    To Whom It may concern,
    We do need bylaw enforcement in the non- road accessable areas of the town of Canmore. I observed many times off leach dogs in those areas, but never-ever in the past 15 years did I see a bylaw enforcement officer actually walking!!! ( a human propelling him/herself by means of two legs) those trais.

    Recently I observed an off leach medium size dog chasing 2 ! cayotes in the larch islands area, the owner was neaerby and innitiallly did’nt even bother calling his dog back untill I suggested to him, that he should have his dog on a leash.

    This dog/owner was lucky, but for me it is also an issue of public/wildlife safety, eg. dogs chasing elk on to the highways, as happened in the past.

    Please let me know whether or not you intend to address this issue with the town of Canmore-bylaw enforcement agency.

    Yours truly, Gian-Duri Giger

  2. Posted January 7, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    Hello Gian-Duri,

    Thank you for your comments. WildSmart is an education based program so we do not advocate on such issues. We do however educate. The Volunteer Wildlife Ambassadors hit the trails in and around town each spring, summer and fall and spend a lot of time discussing this vary issue. Some dog owners get it once they understand the impact they are having on wildlife and the people around them, others do require enforcement to change their ways. I would recommend giving bylaw a call and letting them know the area of concern and specific times infractions are occurring. I’m sure the wildlife in the area would appreciate some relief from repeatedly being chased. It is a huge concern during elk calving season and last calving season a dog was killed by an elk. In regards to bylaw, I’m sure the more information they have the better of a job they can do to assist in this issue. Thanks again for your input.

    Kim Titchener
    Education Program Director
    Bow Valley WildSmart Community Program

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