Undercurrent is an investigative series from the award-winning journalists at The Narwhal. In Season 1: Bear 148, host Molly Segal investigates the life and death of a beloved grizzly bear in Alberta's Bow Valley. Was Bear 148 in the wrong? Or were we? Either way, it was the bear that ended up dead.
Episode 6: Bear scare
It’s the final straw for Bear 148. In July 2017, after an encounter with a jogger on a park trail, Bear 148 is tracked, sedated and taken by helicopter to a place far, far away. Not long after, she wanders across the border into British Columbia, where she’s killed by a hunter.
But how was that final decision made? There are rumours about who made the final call that led to Bear 148’s death. In the midst of tracking down the answer to that question, comes another: how do we undo a half-century of bear scare?
Episode 5: Why did the grizzly cross the road?
Grizzly bears are expected to navigate around all sorts of human obstacles: train tracks, roads, fences, even towns. When they don’t, they’re considered a nuisance — to some, at least.
Actively trying to understand how grizzlies move from one place to another can help minimize conflict between people and bears.
Episode 4: Invisible borders
People have been mauled and killed by grizzly bears in the Bow Valley. It’s something most of us don’t have to think about. But for wildlife managers in parks with bears, the worst-case-scenario is never far from mind.
At what point does a bear that's used to people become dangerous? Do we wait until human-wildlife interactions become deadly before we intervene? Or is it reasonable to remove a peaceful bear from their habitat when the faintest warning bells begin to sound?
Episode 3: Human footprint
The death of Bear 148 raises fresh questions about an old problem: why can’t bears and people peacefully exist in large national parks? Amid the news and disappointment and anger about Bear 148’s death, rumours and suspicion have taken root. Conspiracy theories abound about who made the final call to relocate the grizzly and why. But in reality, the choices of individuals to walk their dogs off-leash in bear territory, or to ignore park closures also played a role in the events that led up to her death.
Episode 2: Outcry
Millions of people visit Banff National Park every year. It was a part of Bear 148’s reality that during her six years of life she’d need to become accustomed to humans and their cars and cameras.
In the summer of 2017, Bear 148 followed the valley’s ripe buffalo berries right into the town of Canmore, about 20 kilometres outside of the park. When she crossed that park boundary, it changed everything.
Episode 1: A perfect neighbour
Bear 148 lived most of her life in and near Banff, Canada's busiest national park. She wasn't afraid of people and she became a local celebrity. By the summer of 2017, wildlife managers around the Bow Valley were just about fed up with Bear 148. The mild-mannered grizzly had had too many encounters with people.
Officials moved Bear 148 far from her home, where she found herself in a new world. There, she would make the fatal mistake of crossing the border into British Columbia.