One of the three orphaned black bears found in a washroom in Banff National Park three years ago was spotted on a wildlife camera Aug. 2.
“We captured a picture of this black bear, 1803, one of our rehab cubs from 2017,” said Blair Fyten, a human wildlife co-existence specialist with Parks Canada. “That was our first sighting of this particular bear.”
The bear’s identification number comes from the year on her ear tag (2018), and the three represents that she was the third black bear Parks Canada worked with that year.
The female black bear, who’s now three-and-a-half years old, was photographed just three kilometres from where the cubs were released back into the wild in July 2018.
“Our staff was very happy to see that one of these bears has survived,” Fyten told Global News.
“She looked in pretty good shape — a bit on the lanky side, but that’s what you’d expect for a teenager. It’s kind of typical for bears that age… scraggly hair,” he said.
After two years in the Banff National Park backcountry on her own, “she’s doing quite well.”
Bear cubs found in bathroom in Banff explore their enclosure at Ontario rehab facility
The three bear cubs were found in a roadside bathroom on the Trans-Canada Highway west of Banff on April 1, 2017.
After searching for three days and checking wildlife cameras, workers could not find the mother bear.
Due to provincial rules regarding rescue and rehab of bears in Alberta, Parks Canada sent the three female cubs to Ontario for rehabilitation. More than a year later, on July 17, 2018, the trio was released back into Banff’s backcountry.
Orphaned bear cubs heading back to Banff National Park in July
Parks Canada confirmed one cub didn’t make it. Staff tracked her GPS collar to a location and found her carcass and evidence that she likely died from a grizzly bear attack.
Fyten said it was encouraging to see footage proving at least one of the three cubs was alive and well. The status of the third one is unknown. The GPS collars on the surviving two bears slipped off that first spring in the wild, but there was no evidence they died or were attacked, Fyten said.
“There’s still one we don’t know about,” he said. “It could be out there. It might not be.”