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Waste Management in the Bow Valley

Banff National Park and Kananaskis Country are recognized as world leaders when it comes to bear-proof food and garbage storage (Herrero et al. 1986). The Town of Canmore and communities located within the Municipal District of Bighorn in the Bow Valley can be added to that list. The Bow Valley has made impressive inroads towards effectively reducing the availability of what many consider to be the main unnatural attractant - garbage. In some ways, the Bow Valley has become an example of what other communities hope to achieve. Through a public consultation process, the Town of Canmore approved a bear-proof waste management system for implementation in the spring of 1997. Due to a poor berry crop in 1998, nine bears were reportedly relocated and four were destroyed due to garbage related incidents within the town. Canmore was fully bear proofed in 1999 when curbside pick up was eliminated (Town of Canmore, 2000). The community of Exshaw saw its bear-related occurrences go up the following year in 2000.

Bear / Human Conflicts Involving Garbage (1992 to 2005)
* Canmore bear proof bins, ** Exshaw bear proof bins

Source: Bow Valley Bear Hazard Assessment, 2007

This may have been a result of garbage no longer being available in Canmore. In late 2000, the Municipal District of Bighorn installed bear proof bins in the communities of Harvie Heights, Exshaw, Lac des Arcs, Deadman’s Flats and Little Kananaskis with positive results. Since the introduction of bear-proof garbage containers in Canmore and communities in the M.D. of Bighorn, there has been a decrease in the number of incidents of bears obtaining garbage. This is significant if you consider the local human population has grown between 2.7 percent and 10 percent annually between 1993 and 2003 (Ketterer, 2005) and a similar increase in garbage volume likely occurred. (Honeyman, 2007)


Ketterer, S. 2005. 2005 census: Town of Canmore. 39 pp.

Herrero, S., W. McCrory, and B. Pelchat. 1986.
Using grizzly bear habitat evaluations to locate trails and campsites in Kananaskis Provincial Park. International Conference on Bear research and management 6: 187 – 193.

Honeyman, J. 2007. Bow Valley Bear Hazard Assessment.

Town of Canmore. 2000. The Canmore experience: bear-proof waste handling system.
Town of Canmore – Solid Waste Services.
Managing for Bears in forested environments conference. October 18, 2000. Revelstoke, B.C.
Town of Canmore: Animal Proof Containers in Canmore

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