Parks Canada is still trying to determine which bear is responsible for a close encounter with campers that has resulted in a full closure at Lake Minnewanka.

Since the campers didn’t see the bear, they couldn’t say if it was a black bear or grizzly.

“Very few of our bears are collared right now so it’s an unknown animal. We do have cameras in the area and we’ll be checking those in the next few days,” Bill Hunt, Parks Canada resource conservation manager in Banff, said Wednesday.

The incident took place Monday evening, after two campers returned to their tent to find it had been trampled and had scratch marks, evidence that a bear had gotten a little too comfortable in the pursuit of food.

The campers didn’t stay the night, but left the site, at campground Lm11, in their canoe and reported the incident to Parks Canada the next morning.

According to Hunt, two or three other campers were evacuated from the campgrounds and those who had booked campsites in the area were told to make alternate plans. He said the backcountry campgrounds aren’t always full of campers and he isn’t sure how the closure will affect occupancy in the coming weeks.

“We had some rain . . . With these sites, people either hike or paddle by boat into the site and so sometimes when it’s windy or the weather’s not good people will change their plans,” said Hunt.

The day before the bear trampled the tent, Parks Canada had posted restricted access on the area, which requires people to hike in larger groups, carry bear spray and leave their bikes and dogs at home.

According to Hunt, the recent closures and restrictions are not out of the ordinary at this time of year. Parks Canada typically tries to give bears easier access to berry-rich areas during berry season, in late-July and August, by restricting access. The berries are a crucial food source for bears preparing for hibernation.

“Most of the closed sites are small campgrounds and aren’t heavily utilized. Lm8 (one of the campgrounds) is probably the most popular one . . . but it gets closed this time of year every year because there’s a big berry crop in there. So it had already been closed for the season,” said Hunt.

Hunt added it’s important to “know before you go” by looking into any possible closures or warnings in the area on Parks Canada’s website.

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Parks Canada looking for bear that trampled tent at Lake Minnewanka

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