Grizzly Bear Family Returns to Nelson, B.C., Following Relocation

Grizzly Bear Family Returns to Nelson, B.C., Following Relocation
A grizzly bear with two yearlings has returned to Nelson, B.C. after an attempted relocation. The city is asking anyone who sees the bears to report it to the Conservation Officer Service. (City of Nelson/Facebook)

A family of grizzly bears, consisting of a mother bear and two yearlings, has made an unexpected return to Nelson in southeastern British Columbia just days after an attempted relocation. The family was first spotted around the town roughly two weeks ago, raising concerns among local residents and prompting a series of actions from both city officials and conservation specialists.

Bear Sightings Cause Stir in the Community

The presence of the grizzlies was indeed unusual. “Super unusual,” remarked Lisa Thomson, the regional coordinator with conservation charity WildSafeBC. Grizzlies typically prefer mountainous regions. However, an abundance of fruit left hanging on trees in Nelson may have attracted these wild guests.

Residents like Tobias Gray noticed the bears’ presence, especially when they ventured close to homes. “We had a good text chain going on with neighbours,” Gray said. “They were a little too close for comfort.” The bears, Gray observed, were primarily feeding on clover in his yard, but there were also ample apple fruits in nearby woods.

Cody Bilben was getting ready to hike at Elbow Lake in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park on Oct. 2 when he saw a grizzly barrel down the highway chasing bighorn sheep.

Relocation Efforts

Given the potential risks associated with the bears’ proximity to human habitats, a strategic relocation effort was launched. Lisa Thomson of WildSafeBC, in collaboration with a bear biologist from Cranbrook, B.C., and officials from B.C.’s Fish and Wildlife branch, spearheaded the operation.

The bears were trapped and transported to a new location abundant in shelter and natural resources. “Very pleased to announce that the Grizzly family of 3 have been successfully trapped and safely relocated out of town,” Thomson announced in a social media post. She extended her gratitude to those who reported sightings, followed safety protocols, and extended support.

In order to track the bears and gather vital data, a radio collar was placed on the mother, and the two male cubs were tagged. These cubs, nearly as tall as their mother, were estimated to be about two-and-a-half years old and appeared to be in “great shape.”

Return and Precautionary Measures

Despite these efforts, the trio was recently seen in the Nelson community again, particularly around the Nelson to Salmo Great Northern Trail, prompting its closure. The City of Nelson, on its social media channels, urged residents to pick any remaining fruit/nuts, secure their garbage, and leash dogs, especially during the late afternoons and night. “The fate of this family now relies on the people of the Nelson community,” they emphasized.

Those who spot the bears are encouraged to report sightings to the BC Conservation RAPP Hotline at 1-877-952-7277 or online.

Broader Context

Nelson isn’t the only community currently dealing with bear-related concerns. Several locations near the B.C.-Alberta border have experienced an increase in bear encounters. Alberta Parks recently issued warnings after bear sightings in Kananaskis Country. Furthermore, a tragic incident occurred last week in Banff National Park when two campers were fatally attacked by a grizzly bear.

Statistics from B.C.’s conservation officer service also indicate a rise in bear complaints this year. While most reports have been about black bears, the number of calls related to grizzly bears has also seen an uptick compared to previous years.

Residents and visitors are advised to exercise caution, make noise when traveling, stay in groups, and always leash their pets.