Bearing the consequences

Bears are causing accidents and people are causing bear deaths
When you are driving this year, do be aware of what is safe in regards to bears. Each year people will pull over to take a photograph, or even attempt to feed a bear that has wandered too close to the road.

These traffic jams can cause several problems, including the risk of a collision. You can be distracted and hit another vehicle, or you may hit a bear.

It is recommended that you do not stop in the middle of the road to photograph or view the bears. Do not feed the bears. You can be subject to a fine of up to $50,000 in B.C. for feeding roadside bears. Once bears get used to the idea of handouts, they will go back to a location. This results in accidents with people and bears being injured and sometimes killed.

Keep an eye open for bears, as they may suddenly come onto the road and possibly have cubs with them.

The B.C. Environment Safety Guide to Bears in the Wild, states that bears have a personal space. This varies from a few metres to hundreds of metres. You step into that space, and you can be attacked. Since a bear can move at about 55 km/hr you need to give a bear lots of room, about the length of a football field.

The insurance answer is that if you do have a vehicle impact with an animal, it is usually covered under the Comprehensive portion of your automobile insurance. It is usually not regarded as a fault accident.

The statistics that have been compiled for the time period between 1990 and 2009 show bear deaths caused by humans in the mountain national parks are:

  • Highways - 238
  • Railways - 125
  • Wildlife official because the bear was attracted to garbage - 57
  • Wildlife official because the bear was a threat to public safety - 17
  • Capture/Handling - 5
  • Other - 7
  • Total - 449.

The National Parks where these bears died are:

  • Jasper - 193
  • Banff - 84
  • Glacier - 55
  • Yoho - 45
  • Kootenay -36
  • Waterton Lakes - 29
  • Mount Revelstoke - 7

Though the black bear still appears to have good population numbers as the black bear has higher reproduction rates then other types of bears, such as grizzlies. Even so, there should be steps taken to reduce the highway deaths which might include reducing speed limits.