Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Canadian Faces Charges for Defensive Shooting of Black Bear in Jasper Park


Image by Troy Nemitz, with permission.

On August 6, 2022, at about 1 p.m., a hiker In Jasper National Park was approached to within about 100 feet by a black bear. The hiker was carrying a 20 gauge shotgun. He fired a warning shot, which did not dissuade the bear.  He continued down the trail a short way, only to discover the bear had stalked closer to him. He fired a slug at the bear. The bear was hit and rolled down a creek bank toward a stream. From CBC.ca:

A person called Jasper Dispatch to report their friend had shot a black bear with a 20-gauge shotgun on the Overlander Trail, about seven kilometres east of the trailhead, according to an email from Parks Canada.

The pair saw the bear about 30 metres away when one hiker
fired a warning shot toward it. The animal reacted but did not run away, so the hiker shot again, according to Parks Canada. The bear then rolled down a short creek bank and the pair left the scene immediately. The extent of the bear's injuries are unknown, but blood was found at the scene.

David Argument is Jasper Park's Resource Conservation Officer. His opinion is that no one except officers such as himself, should be armed in the park, because they pose a danger to wildlife. From Argument:

Carrying a firearm in a national park is illegal.

“It poses obviously a threat to wildlife here and other park users,” Argument said.

In another source, Argument reveals the bear continued to move closer to the hiker, but attributes it to "topography". This is blatantly dishonest. Black bears have excellent hearing and smell. It is not credible the bear did not know it was closing in on the hiker. From Jasperlocal.com:

 The bear was approximately 30-40 metres away from the individual. The man fired a “warning shot,” according to Argument, at which point the bear began moving down the creek. 

Unfortunately, the drainage intersected the footpath further down.

 “The way the topography is there, it brought the bear closer to the man,” Argument said.  

Upon his second encounter the man discharged his firearm directly at the bear. The rifle slug from his 20-gauge shot gun hit the bear, Argument said, at which point the bear “rolled down the embankment of this creek and out of the man’s site.”

It was later revealed, the individual did not know it was illegal to carry a firearm in the park.

The individual, who is a resident of Alberta, is facing charges under the Canada National Parks Act. Argument could not be more specific about what charges are being laid.

“As far as we know this individual was not aware of the regulations that it’s illegal to carry a firearm in a national park.”

Firearms not permitted to be carried in Canada's National Parks. This was the case in National Parks in the United States until 2009, when the Congress removed the ban on carrying firearms, which had been installed during the Progressive era.

Firearms and hunting are not permitted in national parks. If you are transporting a firearm through the park in your vehicle to another destination it must be unloaded and securely encased. Firearms include slingshots, bows, BB guns, crossbows and paintball guns.

Unlike the general population of Canada, park wardens in Canada are armed as of 2009.

The new weapons and role are the results of a complaint brought by a Banff park warden back in 2001 who was concerned with his/her safety and believed he/she was not properly equipped from a personal safety standpoint. After a lengthy process, Parks Canada was given a “direction” that “individuals who do law enforcement in National Parks must be equipped with a handgun for their personal safety, their personal protection. So that’s what set the requirement for us,” said Stewart.

Park Rangers have killed several bears in Jasper National Park. One was killed in 2016. From Fitzhugh.com:

Parks Canada was forced to kill a male black bear, May 21, after an aggressive encounter with a group of people near the Valley of the Five Lakes.

This is the first time Parks has had to kill a bear in Jasper National Park since 2014—when two bears were killed under similar circumstances.

Was it prudent for the hiker to carry a shotgun for protection?  The actions of the bear make it seem likely. Black bears usually retreat from people. Those which do not pose a much higher danger. Most black bear attacks are predatory, where they stalk individuals and attempt to see if they are suitable prey before they attack.

Canada has an abundance of black bears. They are not threatened. Their population has to be kept in balance each year by hunting, to reduce the surplus.

 ©2022 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I seriously do not believe I would care what the law prohibits if I am being attacked by a bear of any kind. Laws are supposed to protect citizens not dangerous animals. The dumb shit that made the arrest should be chained to a tree for a few days in the same area