Predators expand back into old range

Recent stories from the southwest corner of Alberta might foreshadow of what more ranchers will be facing in the near future.

Recent stories from the southwest corner of Alberta might foreshadow of what more ranchers will be facing in the near future.

Stories report that grizzly bears had scavenged and looted two foothill ranches. Owners had stated that this was the first time they had seen grizzlies in such numbers do so much destruction.

Bears had broken into grain bins and in one case had broken into a small abattoir on a ranch and feasted on a hanging beef carcass.

Owners had personally witnessed some of the damage done by the bears. One witness stated that he had seen a group of nine grizzlies, including males, sows and cubs, on his property foraging.

It would seem that this isn’t a case of a lone bear acting on its own, but a concerted move out of traditional grizzly bear territory. But therein lies the reality — those grizzlies were actually moving back into their original traditional range.

Past historical anecdotes reported that grizzlies were sighted as far as Manitoba in the late 1700s and were regularly killed on the western prairies as recently as the late 1800s.

Their range extended well into the American prairie west. But settlement, ranching, loss of habitat and food sources saw the grizzly disappear into high mountain refuges.

But as recent reports show, grizzlies given the opportunity have the adaptability to return to their former prairie haunts. But any extensive re-population just won’t happen.

City and town folks, for all their empathy for wildlife and the great outdoors, draw a line when it comes to having certain wild animals in their back yard.

If grizzlies confine their marauding to a few isolated ranches, I expect most folks won’t care.

But grizzlies are smart and always looking for easy pickings and it’s just a matter of time before they move into local town dumps and suburban fringes away from the foothills.

That’s when the panic will set in, being grizzlies just aren’t any old predator.

A lot of towns and citizens are familiar with black bears making a nuisance of themselves at dumps and outlying areas, but for some reason, black bears don’t strike the same amount fear in the hearts of humans as grizzlies do.

Granted, black bears appear more cuddly, less fearsome and more prone to run away than grizzlies. To us, mere humans, grizzlies are life-menacing and strike genuine fear deep into our souls, reminding us that human beings are really just another prey species.

That perspective would see a lethal response to any real advance of grizzlies moving out of their present mountain ranges into the prairies and urban areas.

Other predators have seen some expansion. Cougars regularly try to expand their range, but it’s a slow process.

The most successful of all has been the coyote, which has expanded its range far and above its original range in the southwest U.S.

Its success is the result of the removal of its traditional enemy, the prairie wolf, its adaptability to many food sources and, yes, the coyote is damn smart.

Humans have contributed to the spread of coyotes by killing the dumb ones. Plus, coyotes seem harmless, being they look like cute dogs — that hardly strikes fear into human hearts. City folks only get annoyed at coyotes in their midst when they start eating their pet cats and lap dogs.

That other well-known predator, the wolf, has a reputation for being more of a noble animal that has survived the odds. Their pack behaviour has made them easier to control and they too are confined to remote areas where they are mostly protected. There are still occasional wolf cull programs in the central and northern interior areas of B.C., when they begin to have an impact on cattle and wildlife prey numbers.

But I expect those cull programs will become fewer in number as the urban mentality of preserving that noble animal continues to grow.

There is hypocrisy in the average citizen’s mind when it comes to large predators.

As long as they are seen at a distance and are not threatening, then they need to be preserved.

That attitude doesn’t help ranchers or livestock who are more likely to be confronted with the deadly and economic impact of predation of any kind by any predator.

Just Posted

Stettler students have fun with humour

Christ-King Catholic School holds variety show

RCMP investigate break-in and theft from Coronation tow yard

Towing supplies, bolt cutters and a red Honda generator were stolen sometime between May 10 and 13

Trial for man accused of 2006 Eckville murder “unreasonably delayed”

Lacombe’s Shayne Gulka is awaiting trial for the 2006 murder of Bradley Webber

Clearview Public Schools approves Gus Wetter trip to Dominican Republic

Trustees also approved a draft calendar for the 2019-2020 school year during the May 10 meeting

UPDATE: Puppies rescued at structure fire in Lacombe

The Bentley Fire Department assisted Lacombe in a structure fire where crews saved some puppies

VIDEO: Canadians rise for early-morning Royal wedding celebrations

Canadians gathered for early-morning broadcast of marriage between Meghan Markle, Prince Harry

No suitors emerge for pipeline project stake as Kinder Morgan deadline looms

Analysts and observers remain perplexed by Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s comment last week that “plenty of investors would be interested in taking on this project”.

Energy wells plugged as Hawaii’s volcano sends lava nearby

A spike in gas levels could prompt a mass evacuation in Hawaii

Trump seethes over Russia probe, calls for end to ‘SPYGATE’

“SPYGATE could be one of the biggest political scandals in history!” Trump said on Twitter

Philip Roth, fearless and celebrated author, dies at 85

Literary agent Andrew Wylie said Roth died Tuesday night of congestive heart failure.

Red Deer County rejects Pine Lake housing project expansion

Developers had hoped to boost number of units at Aspen Shores Estates to 87 from 44.

Pipeline more important than premiers meeting: Notley

“Canada has to work for all Canadians, that’s why we’re fighting for the pipeline”

Canadian government spending tens of millions on Facebook ads

From January 2016 to March 2018, feds spent more than $24.4 million on Facebook and Instagram ads

B.C. sues Alberta over bill that could ‘turn oil taps off’

Lawsuit is the latest move in the two provinces’ ongoing feud over the Kinder Morgan pipeline

Most Read

Weekly delivery plus unlimited digital access for $50.40 for 52 issues (must live within 95 kilometers of Stettler) Unlimited Digital Access for one year for $50.40 Prefer to have us call you? Click here and we’ll get back to you within one business day.