Fish and Wildlife remove ‘bait piles’ near Hinton

Photo submitted

Masha Scheele

Fish and Wildlife have been busy dealing with the continued bear presence in Hinton, and last week the situation escalated with the discovery of bait piles.

Several areas where individuals set out food attractants for animals were identified in the past week with the help from public complaints and concerns.

Dumpster remains, including meat,  were disposed of on the trail behind West Ridge Sand and Gravel, north of the tracks.  All bait at this location was removed by Fish and Wildlife.

“These bait piles – whether set for birds or bears are unacceptable and detract from capture efforts and create significant public safety concerns to all town residents,” said Chris Watson, a Fish and Wildlife officer based out of Hinton.

Any time bears access unnatural food sources, it increases the likelihood of them returning to town and potentially getting into otherwise dangerous situations for both the public and these bears, he added. If nothing else the individuals who dumped the bait could be charged with littering. 

Efforts to deal with bears in town is still in full swing as people continue to call in bear sightings. 

A cub was brought over to the Hinton Training Centre where he was placed in a large bear trap on Monday, Aug. 19.

The 45-lb male, together with a sow and another cub were first spotted and called in when the little boar was seen crossing hwy 16 near the Big Horn Motel, leaving the sow and a remaining cub on the north side of the highway.

Fish and Wildlife subdued the cub for transport to the training centre and upon securing the trap of the little boar, another call came in that an adult bear was trapped west of Freson Brothers on the hill.

“Wishful thinking I assumed this to be a sow and set a fox trap beside this trap in efforts to catch any accompanying cub. Shortly after setting this up and having area resident observe the area from their homes no additional bear sightings occurred,” he said.

The adult bear in the trap turned out to be another boar, likely the reason why the sow and two cubs were leaving the area.

Watson said the 45-lb young male black bear was released Tuesday with another young black bear also darted from a tree near the Gregg Lake subdivision the same day.

The whereabouts of the second cub and the sow remains unknown.

The same day, Watson successfully darted a 95 lb-yearling black bear along Muskuta Creek and released that bear on Tuesday, together with the boar trapped near Freson Brothers. Three days earlier, a large black bear was treed by resident’s dogs after running through a yard on West River Road.

With assistance from a resident, Watson was able to dart and secure the adult sow for transport back to the Hinton warehouse. There, she was placed in a trap in preparation for release the following day north of Grande Cache.

Over the weekend, Fish & Wildlife received continuous calls in different areas across Hinton, and more traps have been set.

“August has typically been our busiest bear month, especially in years with good crops of buffalo berries,” said Watson.

To date, one grizzly has been caught, and six male black bears – four were darted from trees and three caught in traps in town.

Resident Gary Eggen was leaving his house on the lower Hill earlier this week when he saw Fish and Wildlife deal with a young black bear up a tree.

“He was about 12 feet up and when Fish and Wildlife arrived he climbed up higher … maybe 20 feet.”

Eggen said the bear was darted and then made its way most of the way back down before falling the last few feet.

Should anyone be aware of individuals responsible for creating or setting out unnatural food sources, Watson urges them to call them in through the Report a Poacher Line at 1-800-642-3800.

Although efforts are made to relocate animals in most instances, some behaviour or conditioning of these bears results in these animals having to be euthanized for public safety.