Grizzlies with taste for trash make mess in Rocky Mountain House

Two young garbage-hungry grizzlies are causing a ruckus in Rocky Mountain House after they went through town overturning garbage cans last weekend. 

Officers began searching the Alberta town after receiving several reports Friday night about bears rummaging about in trash and compost bins.

“They were starting going through garbage cans, knocking over garbage cans and knocking over compost bins and that kind of thing,” said Alberta Fish and Wildlife officer Paul Sywanyk.

“They followed their noses to all these garbage cans.” 

The bears, siblings between two and half and three years old, are learning to fend for themselves and aren’t wary of humans, Sywanyk said.  

“They’ve been kicked away from mom,” he said. “They’re kind of like teenagers leaving home for the first time. 

“They’re trying to figure out their way in life and they’re looking for the easiest food source they can so they’re investigating smells.”  

The bears moved into Rocky Mountain House on Friday, toppling garbage bins in search of an easy meal. (Alberta Fish and Wildlife)

Officers have closed off some walking trails along the North Saskatchewan River and are trying to trap the bears. 

It’s hoped they can be relocated, but that will depend on how habituated they are to human food, Sywanyk said. 

‘We live in bear country’ 

Improperly-stored trash is the most common cause of human-bear conflicts and garbage, compost and other attractants need to be stored in bear-proof containers, he said.

“I think we can do a little bit better with our attractants. We just got a little complacent in Rocky Mountain House.

“Having them in town isn’t a normal occurrence and it shouldn’t be. We live in bear country. We’ve been lucky we haven’t had occurrences like this more often.” 

Residents need to store their waste better or the problem will grow, Sywanyk said.

“When we do remove these bears, other bears will fill that void.”

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