People exploring Banff National Park will not be allowed to access a stretch of it along Lake Minnewanka until next month after a bear ended up in a backcountry campground.
According to Parks Canada’s website, the closure was put into effect on Tuesday afternoon.
“A bear damaged an unoccupied tent at a backcountry campground,” reads an explanation from the government agency, which did not specify what type of bear.
Bill Hunt, a Parks Canada resource conservation manager, explained that the incident happened to a group of hikers who were cooking food away from their site and returned to find “their tent had been squashed down.”
“An animal had clawed and pawed at their therm-a-rests and some of the stuff they had in their tent,” Hunt said in an interview Wednesday.
“They had left a wine glass and there was some other things in the tent that may have smelled attractive to a bear.”
Watch below: Some videos from Global News stories on bears
The closure impacts the Minnewanka Lakeshore trail “and vicinity” from Stewart Canyon to the Banff National Park’s east boundary. It includes the Aylmer Pass trail. Meanwhile, all campgrounds along Lake Minnewanka are closed.
There are already certain bear-related restrictions in the area during this time of year because of a buffaloberry shrubs that grow near the shoreline of Lake Minnewanka. Hunt said the berries are a key part of a bear’s diet.
“Because we know we have a general attractant with berry crop this time of year and then a bear that’s shown interest in a tent, that’s the reason for the closure,” Hunt said.
“Until we get a better handle on which bear this is and whether there’s any subsequent behaviour, the appropriate thing is to close the area.”
Anyone caught venturing into a closed are can be charged under the Canada National Parks Act and fined up to $25,000.
An area closure notice indicates the closures will be lifted on Aug. 2. However, Hunt said that parks officials will reopen the area earlier if they are able to.
Watch below: Dale and Jessica Boshoff captured this footage of a grizzly while hiking in Kananaskis Country in June 2018.
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