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Updated: 6th January 2019 17:07

Grizzly train deaths examined in Banff park

Parks Canada has paired with a railway to take a closer look at how to reduce the number of bears killed on the tracks in Banff National Park.

Bear 71 and her two cubs, photographed by a remote camera at Harvie Heights. The sow and one of the cubs were killed by a train in June, 2009. Parks Canada has paired with a railway to take a closer look at how to reduce the number of bears killed on the tracks in Banff National Park.

Dozens of trains run through the popular Rocky Mountain park every day and grain spilled from cars onto the tracks is a magnet for hungry grizzlies. One or two bears are killed by a train every year, mostly females.

While Parks Canada and the Canadian Pacific Railway have tried to reduce those deaths by pulling up buffaloberry plants along the tracks and running grain vacuum vehicles along the tracks – among other tactics – it hasn't worked.

"Bears are very motivated creatures and even a fine sprinkling will be enough to get them out there and looking for it," said Parks Canada's mountain parks executive director Tracy Thiessen. "Every time we lose a female it is a huge loss to the grizzly population of Banff National Park."

On Tuesday, Parks Canada and the railway announced a five-year research plan that will test different mitigation methods along the tracks, including fencing and warning sirens and lights. A research symposium on the topic is also planned in Banff for the fall.

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