Recent Confrontations with Wildlife in Alberta make the requirement for Training more imperative
By Arliss T.E. Levine, CRSP, CHSC,BA, NEBOSH IOGC Allstar Enviro Safety
Canadian wilderness is famous for its beautiful scenery, open spaces and breathtaking wildlife.
While visiting outside of Urban areas, it is essential to incorporate safety measures, so that
your enjoyment is not interrupted by a wildlife encounter.
Recent sightings and confrontations with Wildlife in Alberta have pinpointed the problem of
WHY ARE WE CONFRONTING WILDLIFE MORE FREQUENTLY?
More development is occurring for recreation, golf courses, housing and work. This is
encroaching on wildlife habitats and shrinking the area that provide food and cover for
animals. Humans and wildlife, as a result, are encountering situations that were very
rare in previous decades. Whenever we are out of the city, we are in Bear Country and must
be prepared for a sighting with wildlife.
Besides the interest in hiking, camping and using ATV’s, many employees are required to
be in remote areas to conduct work activities. Worker Alone and Journey Management programs
are helpful in tracking their whereabouts, but training in Wildlife Awareness and being manned
with deterrents need to be part of a defensive program.
What is very disconcerting is that more sightings have been made within populated areas this
summer. Recognizing that there are bears present in the Kananaskis, and in Banff and
surrounding environments is the first step to preventing a confrontation or predatory attack.
July, 2019 – A mother grizzly bear, protecting her cubs near Ghost River, Alberta attacked
A couple who were unlucky enough to stumble in her path. The casualty was sent to the
hospital after experiencing multiple puncture wounds and a fractured arm. The conclusion
for this attack is to beware of the season where cubs are being born and the young are
out with their mothers,
July, 2019 – The next day, in Canmore, Alberta in the Low Line area. a bear attack to a cyclist
to hospital. The cyclist could not bike as fast as a bear can run, which can be upwards of 40 miles
per hour. The result was serious, soft tissue injuries to her upper body and internal injury. The
woman told paramedics she and a friend came across the bear, which struck the woman as
the pair attempted to leave. Her friend used bear spray and the bear left, EMS said.
Summer, 2019 -A couple in the Waiparous area, in the NW area outside Calgary, were
attacked by a grizzly bear protecting her cubs. This left a woman with a broken arm and
- home range in search of food and a safer environment
- Forest fires, such as in Ft McMurray and High Level, Alberta have removed cover for animals and destroyed their food sources.
- Rotting food from evacuated living areas has attracted wildlife to easy nutrition sources
- 2019 has provided a healthy berry crop in the mountains.
- Large amounts of tourists have left uncontained food to attract wildlife.
- Off leash dogs will spot wildlife and start a chase, which can result in deadly consequences for our pets
- Record numbers of visitors on omultiple puncture wounds. After an investigation, Park officials decided not to put downthe bear, as it was acting defensively to shield its cubs.
Summer, 2019 – In Canmore, Alberta entered the Gaucho Brazilian Barbecue
causing the diners to leap up off their chairs in surprise. The bear ran out of the
restaurant, with no resultant damage to anyone.
REASONS WHY BEAR ATTACKS and WILDLIFE CONFRONTATIONS ARE OCCURRING:
- The habitat of many animals has been reduced in size and quality , forcing animals to leave their natural
Those hiking by trails, by our rivers and in our day use areas are coming into contact with wildlife by berry patches and fishing sights.
FOREST RANGERS WILDLIFE ACTIONS:
- Bear Aversion Team – It’s the first year the province has hired two full-time wildlife
technicians in K-Country. These Forest Rangers are collaring some of the bears are
and tracking their movements which are monitored with GPS and with mapping
technology. Alberta Environment and Parks in Kananaskis Country Rangers are using Radio Telemetry
- Collaring bears with bad behaviours and tracking their movements
- Use of Rubber slugs and deterrents to negatively condition bears who are habituated
- Other Rules and Educations for Tourists;
- Penalties for off -leash pets. Their yapping and chasing behaviours can cause wildlife to charge
- .Warning signs about bears roaming areas near tourists
- Pamphlets to provide tourists with warning signs of nearby wildlife
Understanding when Wildlife may come into contact with Humans:
- Mating Season – Males are aggressive and Territorial
- Birthing Season – Moms are defensive of their cubs
- Hibernation – When animals come out of hibernation, they are hungry, dazed and will attack if confronted.
- Encountering the cache where the animal stores its food. Wildlife will defend their food source.
- Entering what animals consider to be their territory
- Predatory and Confrontational behaviours of animals
.New requirements to complete a course on Wilderness Awareness Level 2 are the result of
attacks in the Wood Buffalo region of Alberta. One lady on an Oil Sands site was killed by
a Predatory bear in front of other workers, while entering an outhouse.
Education will be focused on safety for personnel as well as the animal’s rights to be in wilderness areas which is their habitat.
- Appreciation for our many unique wildlife species from a distance, so that avoidance and awareness does not result in a confrontation.
- How to set up camps and worksites to protect animals from entering and causing damage.
Occupational Health and Safety has required Employers to conduct a hazard assessment of the worksite. (Alberta labour Part 2 of Code) This helps to determine if a danger of a confrontation exists and inform affected workers.
Students will learn to understand animal awareness, how to identify different species of bears, and be prepared in case of a real-life encounter. Level one and part of level two is classroom based.
Allstar Enviro Safety offers several types of courses to train your staff:
A|) Online – Bear Awareness Training online
- B) Classroom – Bear Awareness and Avoidance Level 1 – Theory
Bear Awareness and Avoidance Level 2 – Theory and use of Inert Bear Spray
Wildlife Awareness Level 1 – Theory
Wildlife Awareness Level 2- Theory and use of Inert Bear Spray
Group training can be done at your facility or ours.
Please contact us to ensure the practical components will meet the course requirements since deterrents may be used.
Bear Awareness and Avoidance topics include:
- Black Bears and Grizzly Bears and differences in appearance and home ranges
- Information about bear behaviour and ecology
- How to identify bears signs, species and prevent encounters from occurring
- How to predict defensive, non-defensive, and predatory behaviours and deal with bear encounters.
- Responses to bear encounters and the warning signs.
- The use of bear spray and other non-lethal deterrents in a safe manner.
- Deterrent storage and. Safe work procedures, use of a holster, SDS sheets and location, transport of aerosols, and practice.
Wildlife Awareness topics include:
Ungulates (moose, deer, caribou, elk), Cougars, Wolves, Black and Grizzly Bears and other wildlife impacting the work area.
- The information from the Bear Awareness course, including predatory and
- Confrontational behaviours, home ranges, and physical differences
- . Learn avoidance procedures as well as proper reactions to a series of different wildlife and survival techniques.
- The importance to our society of the existence of the Canadian wilderness
- Use of a hierarchy of controls such as proactive ones, audio, contact and behavioural controls. for wildlife encounters.
- Information on common wildlife and possible encounters such as Cougars, wolves, and deer.
Level one is theory and classroom- based.
Level two has practical components, including introduction to non- lethal deterrents and practice with inert bear spray
In conclusion, we can admire our natural habitat and wildlife in Canada without a confrontation. To avoid the dangers of an attack, enroll in a safety course today.