Park officials tracked down and euthanized a black bear in Canada’s Jasper National Park over the weekend after it killed a hiker’s off-leash dog. According to a press release issued on Sunday, April 23, the bear was behaving in a predatory manner when it mauled the dog along a stretch of the 4.8-mile Wabasso Lake Trail. The hiker deployed bear spray at close range, spraying the animal in the face, and struck it multiple times in the head with the spray canister, before it carried the dog off into the woods and cached its carcass.
“This behavior is considered a threat to public safety and a risk to park visitors,” park personnel wrote in the prepared statement. “Parks Canada human-wildlife conflict specialists located the bear and destroyed it on Sunday, April 23, 2023.”
The hikers were approaching the trailhead with two dogs running between them when they encountered the 200-plus-pound male black bear. One dog chased the animal off of the trail, but the bear ended up back on the trail near the hikers. That’s when the bear attacked a second dog that was standing and barking within a few feet of its owner.
“In this unusual and concerning encounter, the large 92 kg male bear, which had no identifying tags indicating previous interactions with Parks Canada personnel, displayed no fear or reaction to bear spray or punches,” officials said. “This … indicates a highly habituated bear and increased the likelihood of further negative interactions.”
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Officials closed the Wabasso Lake Trail, and multiple other trails in the area in the wake of the attack, but the area has since been re-opened to visitors. “Our condolences go out to the pet owners involved in this incident,” park officials stated in a separate release announcing the trail closure. “This is a sad reminder that all pets should be kept under control and on-leash at all times within a national park.”
Jasper National Park is located in the Canadian Rockies about three hours west of Edmonton, Alberta. It’s home to both black and grizzly bears—both of which are particularly active this time of year as they emerge from winter dens. Last August, Canadian authorities arrested a hiker after the man shot a black bear with a 20-gauge shotgun as it charged him along the park’s popular Overland Trail.