Famously Curious Wild Grizzly Bear Was Just Shot Dead By Trophy Hunter
She had just become old enough to have cubs.
A grizzly bear who became famous for being curious was just killed by a trophy hunter who knew she was wearing a tracking collar.
Bear 148 was shot dead on Sunday by a hunter who was with a guide, after she wandered from Alberta, Canada, where she was protected from hunters, to British Columbia, where it will be illegal to hunt grizzly bears starting November 30. She was 6 years old.
"The guide and hunter knew that the bear was collared prior to harvest," the British Columbia Conservation Officer Service told CBC News. Biologists had been tracking Bear 148 to learn more about the species. The hunt was technically legal. Hunters are supposed to report shooting and killing animals who are tagged or collared. No information has been revealed about the hunter. "This was a legal hunt and no investigation is underway," the service said.
Many people in Canada felt attached to Bear 148 because of her interest in people and what she represented for grizzly bear recovery — grizzly bears are considered vulnerable in the region.
One of her most noteworthy visits occurred when she wandered onto a field where a rugby team was practicing. Earlier this year, over 27,000 people signed a petition urging the government not to euthanize or relocate Bear 148. Officials from Alberta Fish & Wildlife [AFW] did end up relocating her north to keep the curious bear a little farther from the people she was so curious about.
Many people saw this move as unfair for the bear, whose family had lived in the region for decades. Her mother, Bear 64, lived in Banff National Park for 25 years without any incident that put people in danger. The petition also said that a possible mate, Bear 126, came down from Lake Louise to visit Bear 148 and that there was a possibility she could be pregnant.
"Despite our best efforts Alberta Fish & Wildlife [AFW] has decided to translocate our beloved 148 to Northern Alberta,” Bree Todd wrote in an update on the petition in August. "She has now become a poster child that highlights the need for a change in wildlife management … Thanks to all who have signed, this has been integral in keeping AFW from killing her. Our fight continues to ensure 148 is the last animal wrongfully removed from their habitat because of human encroachment."
A ban on trophy hunting in British Columbia, which is set to begin after this hunting season, came too late for the bear, who was just getting old enough to have cubs, which would have bolstered the population of the vulnerable species. It is not known if the bear was pregnant when she was killed.
"Bear 148 was not in a protected area when she was killed but she was in grizzly bear habitat," Candace Batycki, of the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative, said. "Her death highlights the need for collaborative cross-border conversation.”
Bear 148 will now never be able to carry on the legacy of her famous grizzly family. She will be sorely missed by all who loved her.
Correction: A previous version of this article said that hunters are supposed to avoid killing collared animals in British Columbia. They are only required to report such a killing.