Wednesday, August 10, 2011

BAD NEWS FOR BEARS

I've just learned that my cousin Flossie died recently in the ongoing misadventure called "Trains vs Bears."  She's the 13th Grizzley Bear to have been run over by a train during the last 12 years in Canada's Banff National Park. Two more Bears have been killed on the Banff highways this year.

Not a good year for us Bears.

Flossie's two kids are apparently doing fairly well since her death, so that is one piece of good news. Lots of cubs have died of starvation when their moms were killed.

The other piece of Bad News is that the Bear population in the Park is down to about 60. Even worse, the Alberta Government (Alberta's the province in which the park is located) says there are only 691 Bears left in the whole province. That's down from 1,000 a decade ago.

Yeah, the family is hitting hard times. Worse than a stock market crash.

The naturalists who keep track of these things say the loss of even one female Bear of reproductive age is a huge blow to the overall health of the ecosystem in that part of the Rocky Mountains.

Parks Canada (the Federal government agency) is teaming up with the Canadian Pacific Railway (the other side in "Trains vs Bears") in an effort to reduce the number of deaths. Last year the Federal government and the railway committed $1 million each over five years, to find a solution. In "Trains vs Bears," the Bears always lose. Always.

Some 50 Bear "specialists" and transportation scientists from all across North America are now committed to the project. They'll be meeting in Banff next month to work on the situation. As far as I know, no Bears were invited to participate.

As far as I'm concerned, fixing the problem cannot come a day too soon. There aren't many of us left.


24 comments:

Beau's Mom said...

Besides the "cruelty to animals" situation that tears me up, bears and elephants are on my list also. Polar bears...don't forget them either! Humans are dead set on trampling every species to death and saving their own. In the process, humans are really killing themselves.

And that's the only way to save nature to begin with.

Rob-bear said...

Love those Polar Bears! Did you know that some Grizzlies are moving into Polar Bear areas. The Grizzlies are getting pushed out of their terrain by Humans, and so are moving north.

Teacher's Pet said...

So sorry to hear about Flossie...and am relieved that her cubs are doing well. Sad to lose one's Mama...and I hope they are well taken care of. Always sad to hear about the clash between man and nature. You are right when you say that when bear meets train, the train always wins.
I researched the grizzly population in the lower 48 states...and was glad to see that because of protection of the grizzly, their numbers have grown incredibly. I do hope that your cousins in Canada will be protected and their numbers will rebound. I love all creatures great and small.

The Bipolar Diva said...

That's so sad...

Tattie Weasle said...

Such a difficult time for bears. I hope the authorities get a move on, keep up the pressure so that they do!

potsoc said...

Too bad for Flossie, but how do you keep bears or moose off train tracks? Can you build fences all along the right of way? Or dig tunnels under the railway bed and put up signs "Bear crossing"?
The English have made toad tunnels under some highways, but a toad is much smaller than grizzlie.

Diana said...

How sad to hear Bear. And I'm so sorry. You would think in these technological times we live in, someone could come up with a good solution. Hopefully there is some brilliant person out there working on this right now! Love Di ♥

Sylvia Ney said...

So very sad. Bears are such beautiful creatures. I hadn't heard of one being hit by a train before. What a shame. I hope conservationists are able to come up with viable solutions.

cheshire wife said...

Bear had better find himself a lady friend and start enjoying himself. No need to worry about a population explosion.

Rob-bear said...

Thank you, friends, for all your kind thoughts.

® Teacher's Pet: Thanks for the comment. The Grizzly Bear is listed as "threatened" in the United States and "endangered" in parts of Canada. So the Bears are getting some protection from Humans, particularly hunters. Protecting Grizzlies from trains is the next big challenge.

® Bipolar Diva: Yeah, it is sad. Hope we can improve on the record, soon. Thanks

® TW: Thanks for your concern. I hope we can get truly prompt action.

Rob-bear said...

® potsoc: Indeed, Paul, you are raising a good point. There are fences alongside the roadways, but not along the railways. I've discovered there are things called “bear boards,” which may be helpful; they're flat structure with pegs sticking up that bears can’t walk on. Workers have also been cutting down berry bushes alongside the railway tracks. Work is being done; Bears are still being killed.

Rob-bear said...

® Diana: Thanks for the suggestion. There are about 50 bright people working on plans. Maybe something exciting will come up at the September meeting. (By then you should be up and about, I hope.)

® Sylvia Ney: Thanks for adding your notes. I've always thought we Bears were pretty cute; glad you agree.

® Cheshire Wife: Thanks for the thought, but I found my lady friend about 43 years ago. We've done our bit for the population, though no explosion on our account.

Gutsy Living said...

What attracts bears to the railroad tracks? Food thrown out by passengers? This is very sad and Flossie will be missed.

Rob-bear said...

® Gutsy Living: Thanks for asking about this, Sonia. There are several problems.
There are good things (like berries) throughout the forest, including along the railway. So a Bear could be crossing simply to get to more berries the other side (like the proverbial chicken), or right alongside the track.
Also, trains going through these mountains are carrying grain to export terminals, and the grain cars leak a bit — inviting the Bears to come right on to the tracks to find the grain that has fallen out.
For the Bears, it's the dangers of good eating.

Brenda Susan said...

That is so sad and unnecessary. Have never understood why humans and beautiful animals cannot co-exist peacefully.

Rob-bear said...

® Brenda Susan: Thanks for your concern.
It is great when Humans and Animals can share living space. It's a relationship where they get along by respecting each other.
I guess there are two problems, though.
One has to do with garbage, and how animals got accustomed to this easy sort of food. At that point the animals lose their respect for Humans, and start getting a little too close for their own good.
The other problem is that sometimes Humans build big and powerful things and run them at high speed through an animals territory. It's a lack of respect for the animals.
Sadly, the animals pay the price. Bears who get into garbage get shot; Bears lose to trains every time.

Just Two Chicks said...

That's terrible! I'm happy to hear her babies are doing well, and I really hope the bear "specialists" can come up with something.

WIldlife in Texas is really suffering right now due to the drought. It's terrible. I don't know statistics like you do, but we need rain badly.

Rob-bear said...

® Just Two Chicks: Thanks for your concern.
The weather is Texas is designed to help those with a "dry" sense of honour. Sadly, it's getting way too dry. But we wouldn't want another Katrina to "balance things out."
Hope your travels have gone well.

The Golden Eagle said...

I'm sorry to hear about Flossie. I hadn't heard about bears being hit by trains before--though I suppose it makes sense, since tracks do cut through their habitat.

I hope some kind of solution is found soon.

About Last Weekend said...

I really did not know that bears die this way and so sad they leave little cubs. I really must go to Yellowstone and see a bear in the wild, they are such cool creatures...

Rob-bear said...

® Golden Eagle & About Last Weekend: I realize this isn't something everyone thinks about. That's why I raised the issue. Thanks for reading and thinking.

Lydia said...

How heartbreaking about Flossie. What a horrid and totally senseless death. I am shocked by the numbers you shared, the numbers of decline. I will hope for a briefing from Bear once the Banff conference convenes. It is good they are doing this; now let's hope that their recommendations are 1) Insightful, science-based, proactive, even retroactive if possible.
2) Acted upon by important agencies/the government immediately, and not one of those "such and such will be mandated, beginning in 2033" or some ridiculous date in the future.
3) Enforced fully once established.
4) Revisited on a set schedule to assess for needed changes.
5) Considered to be of vital importance to Canadians, who will be watchful and weary of weakening commitment by anyone in power.

One more thing, we must seriously face overpopulation on our planet and move beyond our egos that want to create mini-selves, and rewrite all the religious texts --ALL-- that keep people blind to the fact of overpopulation, its causes and its consequences.

Helen said...

Greetings Bear!
Felt like popping in to say hello. Stay safe out there .....

Rob-bear said...

® Jody: P.S.: yes, we Bears are cute. I'm glad you realized that.

® Lydia: Wow! Amazing comments. Thank you so much.
Somehow I get an uneasy feeling about this whole event. If I learn something (don't know whether I will), I'll give you the run down. (Perhaps not the best wording there.) One major problem I've noted already; no Bears who have been invited to the event. Bad sign!

® Helen: Thanks for dropping by. Great to hear from you. Seems like a lot of Bloggers are going AWL or AWOL this year. I'm wondering if people are wearing out. Bloging getting too strenuous? Perhaps.