Sad news last week as yet another Banff grizzly bear was killed in the national park. I got news of the death the same morning that the bear was picked up off the Trans-Canada Highway and immediately started to try to figure out if I’d photographed it before.
The park warden that retrieved the bear from the highway is one of several that I chat to throughout the year regarding both wolves and bears, and together we were able to piece together a bit of the history of the bear.
On May 4th, 2010, I photographed a large male grizzly in the vicinity of Castle Mountain in Banff along the railway tracks. Looking closely at several of the photos, I was able to determine that the very subtle, hidden ear tag in the left ear of the bear had the number 0148 on it, matching that of the bear killed on the Trans Canada last week.
|Grizzly bear 0148 in happier times, walking the train tracks in Banff in May 2010|
However, the really interesting part of this story occurred two weeks prior to that, on April 18th, 2010. On that day, I witnessed a grizzly bear chase an injured moose across the Bow River near Lake Louise, and near the end of the encounter, got a photo that showed a faint trace of both an ear tag and a radio transmitter in the bear’s ears.
|Grizzly bear 0148 tracking an injured moose in Banff in May 2010|
|Grizzly bear 0148 crossing the Bow River in Banff National Park in May 2010|
|Grizzly bear 0148 at Morant’s Curve in Banff in May 2010|
|Grizzly bear 0148 — the photo that shows a faint trace of an ear tag and radio transmitter|
At that point last year, my warden friend had happened on the scene just minutes after the bear had left, so I had shown him the footage and the photos, yet neither of us could recall having seen the grizzly before.
So now, a week after Bear 0148’s death, it appears that our ‘new’ bear from last year was a transplanted (relocated) grizzly from provincial lands and it almost certainly matches up. Same tag in left ear, same transmitter in right ear.
Unfortunately, this realization comes just days after this big male was killed on the highway.
He may have survived the trains day-after-day for a year, but in the end, like all Banff grizzlies, Bear 0148 died at the hands of humans; he was no match for the big truck that took his life.