Female grizzly bear struck and killed by train in Banff National Park

CALGARY — Parks Canada officials say a female grizzly bear, known only as bear 143, was killed when she was hit by a CP train Thursday evening.

The incident took place on the CP Rail line between Castle Junction and Lake Louise at 7:15 p.m. on Sept. 3.

Officials say the bear was known to them, but was rarely seen in the front country.

Bear 143 is the first grizzly to have been killed by a train in Banff National Park since 2012.

Since then, authorities have conducted research to understand the root causes of bear-train collisions. That work has resulted in a number of management actions that include alternate travel routes for bears that help them avoid crossing rail lines and different methods to improve bear habitat.

“Human and wildlife safety is of the utmost importance to Parks Canada. Our pioneering innovations in food-waste management, highway mitigations and habitat restoration with prescribed fire and forest thinning have been replicated around the world. Parks Canada’s toolkit includes a wide range of additional management actions to promote coexistence between people and wildlife,” Parks Canada said in a release.

It adds efforts to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions along the Trans-Canada Highway, such as crossings and fencing, have resulted in an 80 per cent drop in incidents.

“Parks Canada is committed to managing the coexistence between people and wildlife in our national parks and sites. Research has shown that there is no single solution to the complex issue of bear mortalities on railways. Various targeted management actions will be required on and off the tracks to continue to reduce the risk of grizzly bear mortality on the railway in Banff and Yoho national parks.”

As of this year, Parks Canada estimates there is a stable population of between 60 and 80 grizzly bears that have made Banff National Park part of their home range.

More details into the circumstances of the death of bear 143 will be provided once the investigation is complete.

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