Death of iconic white grizzly bear sparks calls for wildlife conservation

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The decease of a uncommon achromatic grizzly carnivore successful Yoho National Park, conscionable 2 days aft her cubs died, has sent a rippling sadness crossed nan wildlife community.

“An affectional reaction,” said wildlife photographer John E Marriott, who called Nakoda a typical bear. “Photographers, tourists, everybody flocked to get retired to spot her. I deliberation a batch of group developed a very deep, affectional relationship pinch her. For a batch of people, she was nan first grizzly carnivore they saw.”

Marriott is besides nan co-founder of nan Exposed Wildlife Conservancy.

“To person this benignant of each unfold successful nan past mates weeks — first her cubs get deed and past wrong 24 hours, she gets deed and past wrong different 24 hours, she succumbs to those injuries — erstwhile I heard nan news, it was devastating.”

A celebrated achromatic grizzly bear, known locally arsenic Nakoda, is Bear 178. Courtesy: John E Marriott

Nakoda, officially Bear 178, was recovered deceased connected June 8, and is believed to person died from soul injuries sustained successful a collision in Yoho National Park successful B.C. connected nan Trans-Canada Highway adjacent nan Lake O’Hara turnoff connected Thursday, June 6.

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Nakoda’s 2 cubs were killed successful a separate conveyance incident on nan road earlier that day.

Parks Canada says a uncommon achromatic grizzly carnivore and her cubs person died aft abstracted car crashes successful Yoho National Park, B.C., connected June 6, 2024. The bear, designated GB178 and known arsenic Nakoda, is seen pinch her cubs successful an undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Government of Canada, *MANDATORY CREDIT*

Wildlife guidance unit witnessed Nakoda tally onto nan roadworthy successful beforehand of 2 vehicles, aft being startled by a passing train.

“One of those vehicles was successful truth capable to swerve and debar a collision, but nan conveyance travelling correct down it, that 2nd vehicle, was incapable to respond successful clip and that conveyance struck nan bear,” Saundi Stevens, a Parks Canada wildlife guidance specialist, said connected Monday.

After nan incident, Bear 178 climbed complete a obstruction and was moving pinch a flimsy limp. Wildlife officials said they were hopeful she would retrieve from her injuries, but Nakoda was recovered dormant 2 days later aft her GPS collar sent a mortality signal.

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1:59 Parks Canada officials punctual visitors of carnivore information aft decease of celebrated achromatic grizzly

“Not only has this taken a existent affectional toll connected wildlife lovers, but I can’t ideate what nan Parks Canada unit is going through,” Marriott said. “For 2 years, they’ve been monitoring her from dawn to dusk, and they’ve been doing a awesome occupation keeping her alive, but there’s conscionable truthful overmuch going connected that pinch each nan mitigation measures and nan levers that they’re pulling, they still weren’t capable to support her connected nan scenery and that’s a existent shame.

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“I consciousness terribly for them conscionable arsenic I consciousness terribly for Nakoda and her cubs.”

Breaking news from Canada and astir nan world sent to your email, arsenic it happens.

Parks Canada had been monitoring nan achromatic grizzly carnivore since 2022, erstwhile she was fitted pinch a GPS collar.

This was her first group of cubs, Marriott said.

A celebrated achromatic grizzly bear, known locally arsenic Nakoda, was recovered dormant connected June 10, 2024, 2 days aft being injured successful a conveyance collision successful Yoho National Park successful B.C. Courtesy: Jason Leo Bantle

“Nakoda came retired six aliases 7 years ago. She was spotted successful nan backcountry a mates of times. People benignant of knew location was a achromatic cub that existed.”

Two years later, erstwhile she was weaned, Nakoda started appearing roadside pinch her sister, Marriott said, “and conscionable caused a sensation.”

“It’s beautiful unsocial to person a grizzly carnivore that shows up by nan Trans Canada Highway — it’s Canada’s busiest road … and then, 1 that has achromatic fur, a achromatic coat.”

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1:59 Rare achromatic grizzly carnivore spotted successful B.C.’s Yoho National Park

He says arsenic group flock to parks and different areas wherever wildlife live, those areas go much populated and improvement increases, which puts expanding unit connected nan animals.

“We’ve conscionable sewage excessively overmuch improvement going on,” Marriott said. “We person to make a decision. I unrecorded successful Canmore and we’re doubling, tripling successful size successful nan adjacent decade. What’s going to hap pinch nan wildlife? What are nan semipermanent broadside effects going to be?

“We already cognize from scientists and biologists who person studied this area that our wildlife corridors are being choked off.

“Fifty years from now, location mightiness beryllium nary grizzly bears near successful this full Bow Valley Corridor. Are we consenting to unrecorded pinch that? I personally americium not.

“It’s OK to emotion nan wildlife. We now person to push backmost connected nan different broadside and make judge we’re not loving them to death.”

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A celebrated achromatic grizzly bear, known locally arsenic Nakoda, is Bear 178. Courtesy: John E Marriott

Marriott encourages group to support conservation groups, get involved, raise awareness, unpaid and constitute to their authorities officials.

“We request to do much to protect animals for illustration Nakoda and her cubs,” he said. “This is nan sixth breeding female now killed successful nan past 4 years successful that Lake Louise halfway sub-population of grizzly bears and that’s not sustainable.”

Parks Canada information shows 13 bears – achromatic and grizzly – person been killed truthful acold this twelvemonth by centrifugal vehicles aliases trains successful nan Yoho, Kootenay, Lake Louise region. More than 60 bears person died that measurement complete nan past 5 years.

Four grizzly bears person been killed by roadworthy aliases obstruction postulation truthful acold successful 2024. Last year, location was one.

A celebrated achromatic grizzly bear, known locally arsenic Nakoda, is Bear 178. Courtesy: John E Marriott

“I deliberation there’s a existent consciousness of mourning and of devastation wrong nan wildlife lovers organization and I don’t want to conscionable brushwood that aside,” Marriott said. “We tin usage that emotion to impact change.

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“We request to put unit connected Parks Canada to commencement dealing pinch immoderate of their partners — Canadian Pacific Railway, Transport Canada — to commencement making judge that if we person different grizzly carnivore that shows up for illustration this, that it’s not going to beryllium a mates of years and boom, they’re deed by something,” he said.

“We person specified an insatiable request to get from A to B quickly. There is simply a measurement this could person been prevented. We could person said: ‘You cognize what? There’s grizzly bears on nan road, everybody has to thrust slowly.’ We put successful velocity bumps, we person mandatory 24-hour velocity enforcement, we person 24-hour monitoring. But it each requires money and it’s going to require a alteration to really nine operates and truthful far, we haven’t shown a willingness to do that to support typical bears for illustration Nakoda connected nan landscape.”

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Grizzly bears are a threatened type successful Alberta.

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“Are location immoderate bears that are going to beryllium capable to fig retired really to unrecorded successful this vale pinch 5 cardinal people, a nationalist highway, a nationalist railway, play courses, skis hills, everything? Or are we conscionable going to person an area that grizzly bears go extirpated from?” Marriott asked.

Nicholas Scapillati, executive head of nan Grizzly Bear Foundation, said grizzly carnivore deaths are going down acknowledgment to nan efforts of wildlife officers and conservation groups.

“But we request to do much for nature.”

He says humans proceed to infringe connected animals’ residence and there’s a biodiversity crisis.

“The parks are doing a awesome occupation of trying to protect (bears) but it’s benignant of a Band-Aid situation. What we really request to beryllium looking astatine is really we attack our narration pinch nature, pinch these chaotic spaces, and these chaotic animals and springiness them nan abstraction and nan opportunity to unrecorded nan lives they request successful nan wild.

“We request to do a batch much guidance of ourselves,” Scapillati said.

A celebrated achromatic grizzly bear, known locally arsenic Nakoda, is Bear 178. Courtesy: John E Marriott

He says much needs to beryllium done to curtail nan effect humans have.

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“What we’re seeing pinch grizzly carnivore deaths is nan unit of development, nan effect of climate change connected their nutrient sources and habitat. So, successful areas that are nether improvement pressure, wherever humanity is reaching further into these places — whether it’s successful our nationalist parks aliases assets exploration — it’s putting these bears into situations wherever it makes it really difficult to survive.”

Scapillati said group astir nan world are grieving nan nonaccomplishment of Nakoda and her cubs.

“Bears animate a consciousness of wonder. They seizure our hearts and our imaginations.

“The guidance we’re seeing from nan decease of this charismatic animal Nakoda is sad but it reminds america really connected we are to quality and … group are paying much attention.”

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