Canmore teen 'didn't even believe' grizzly No. 148's death

 Grizzly bear No. 148 in June 2014 on the day before she was tagged and collared on the Banff Springs golf course. Photo: Leah Hennel/Calgary Herald.

Grizzly bear No. 148 in June 2014 on the day before she was tagged and collared on the Banff Springs golf course. Photo: Leah Hennel/Calgary Herald.

 

A local teenager who had a run-in with grizzly No. 148 in the days before she was moved out of the Bow Valley says she’s saddened by the bear's death.

Grizzly No. 148, a six-and-a-half year old female, was shot and killed by a hunter in British Columbia on Sept. 24 — about a month before she would have denned for the winter and two months before the end of the controversial trophy hunt in B.C.

“When I first heard, I didn’t even believe it,” said Lea McCroy, 17, who came eye-to-eye with the well-known No. 148 during a run at the Canmore Nordic Centre in July.

McCroy wasn’t injured, but she was one of several close calls with the well-known bear in the Bow Valley before she was moved to Kakwa Wildland Provincial Park, north of Jasper National Park.

No. 148 initially stayed close to the spot where she was dropped off, but it's believed that a snowfall in the area likely forced her to move in search of food before denning up for the winter.

She was shot and killed by a hunter near McBride, B.C.

McCroy, whose mom was killed by a grizzly bear in 2005, said she got a call about the bear’s death right before it came out publicly.

“I was just trying to hold back tears on the phone, because I was super upset that someone was hunting a bear,” she said in an interview on Saturday. “For the past few days, I have been super upset.

“I am just trying to wrap my head around this whole concept of why someone would hunt a grizzly bear.”

McCroy said she understands why people hunt deer and elk, because they can use the meat to feed their families, but she doesn’t get trophy hunting.

“It just the worst way to go and I just don’t understand why someone would do that,” she said. “We just had to get her through the winter.”

Starting on Nov. 30, the B.C. government will end the grizzly bear trophy hunt in B.C. with the exception of hunting bears for meat.

Some have suggested B.C. needs to go further and end the hunt entirely, while others have tried to use the case of No. 148 as an example of why a limited hunt should be restored in Alberta.

Grizzly bears are a threatened species in Alberta, which led to the end of this province's hunt and a recovery strategy aimed at reducing conflicts between bears and people.

McCroy said she wonders why the Alberta government would place the bear in an area where it was close enough to wander into B.C. during the legal hunt.

“All of the odds were stacked against her,” said McCroy. “She was there, they knew she was in this area where she could be hunted. They could have put her somewhere else.”

Before No. 148 was killed, provincial officials said that most hunters don't typically shoot collared grizzlies and that the 200-pound bear likely wasn't big enough for a trophy hunt.

McCroy, who graduated from high school in June, said she wants to make sure No. 148’s death isn’t in vain.

“I want to see if I can get involved with Y2Y (Yellowstone to Yukon) or Parks and see if I can do something — even if it’s just going out and educating people at schools or doing something,” she said. “It would feel meaningful to me if this bear was remembered in a good way and we didn’t think about her as a terrible, terrible creature, but a good creature that was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

She’s also hoping the community could do a ceremony to honour No. 148 — something that's expected as part of an Oct. 7 event called For the Love of the Bow Valley.