Note: all the originals of these pictures are 1600x1200 pixels and about 800 - 900 Kb in size; these pictures below have been shrunk and quality slightly reduced so you won't have to wait until next Christmas to download the page. In total, I took 86 pictures; here are my favorites.
On Thursday, October 30, 2003, John found a granary ripped open and bear tracks (there was about one inch of fresh snow) all around the yard. He suspected that they were Grizzly Bear tracks so he called Fish & Wildlife. Shirley came and set a "Culvert" type of trap for him. On Friday, Norm and Shirley returned and confirmed that it was, in fact, a Grizzly. Late that day, I (Ken) stopped in on my way to my cabin and stopped to tell John that I would be up there. He and Beno were inspecting these bear tracks all over their yard. There was, fortunately, an inch or so of fresh snow, so the tracks were clear.
On Friday, October 31, 2003, I went to my cabin and stopped to tell John that I would be up there. He and his son Beno were inspecting these bear tracks all over their yard. They had tracked the bear and found that it had come from my land and was now in John's bush across the road. On Saturday the officers set a snare for him and on Sunday morning they found the bear in the snare. Here he is, before being tranquilized.
On Saturday, Norm Bakker, Shirley Klatt came from the Spirit River wildlife as well as Dave Robertson from the Grande Prairie office and Dave set a leg-hold snare; he has plenty of experience with that sort of work. They found the bed of the bear about 150 yards from John's house. I went hunting and looking for Grizzly bear tracks. The tracks showed he had walked north along the east end of my bush headed for John's place. From left to right, officers Shirley, Norm and Brian keeping an eye on the bear while officer Dave was getting his darts ready.
This is about the only time I saw him act very aggressively; Dave mentioned that this bear was rather docile compared to others he has captured.
We admired the magnificent creature; struggling and making "let me go" type noises. Once I noted him clack his jaws in the sign of anger. He spent most of his time rolling around on his back.
The 3 other officers kept their rifles ready while Dave Robertson got his tranquilizer ready. There was always that chance that the bear might, somehow, break loose.
Not only did they have rifles, but handguns as well; they were "Loaded for Bear." The Grizzly kept rolling around mostly on his back, and making pathetic rather than threatening noises.
A critical moment; Dave prepares to fire the first dart into the bear; this could make him so furious that, somehow, he might break loose; the other 3 officers are ready just in case. I was praying that if he should break loose, they would kill him before he got to me.
After Dave fired the first dart, we waited but nothing happened. Then a second and still nothing happened. They explained that in the fall, like this, the extra fat on a bear could result in poor penetration of the drug. A third shot finally put him to sleep. As soon as the 3rd dart got him, the bear grabbed it in his teeth and pulled it out. That did not matter the drug goes in the moment the dart goes it. It is probably rather painful.
We had noted he had an ear tag and a radio collar. As soon as he was asleep the officers began to hobble his front legs and also his back legs. They pulled out the 3 darts and cut off the radio collar.
Here you can see the heavy duty steel cable which is the snare, attached to the right-front leg.
Here are Beno, my nephew and Bruin, posing.
Ken, admiring the huge claws while the officers continue to put the hobbles on tightly; the snare is still attached and guns are still trained on the bear.
Dave Robertson attaching the hobbles to the back legs.
While the hobbling process continues, Norm keeps his rifle ready just in case. This is standard procedure.
The hobbles in place on the grizzly's back legs.
Only when the front hobbles are secure is the snare removed. Still, guns are kept ready.
Once the hobbles are in place, a cable is run through the culvert trap and hooked to the hobble on the back legs and the process begins to winch the bear into the culvert trap, tail end first.
As the bear is being dragged, the drug is starting to wear off.
He is now able to lift his head and look at us but can't do much about it. Rifles are ready.
As he is almost into the trap, he seems wide awake but is not.
As Norm runs the winch skidding the bear in, Dave guides the bear into the opening while Shirley and Brian keep their rifles ready and Diana looks on.
This is something you never want to see when you are in the bush: a grizzly within 1 meter!! This picture, in the size of 1024x768, makes my computer's desktop look very nice!
Almost into the trap now. John picked this picture to be published in the local newspaper, the Spirit River Signal.
Finally, the door is partly closed, the hobble removed from the front legs, and the rear hobble removed via a hole in the other end of the trap, the door is locked, the bait recovered (a dead beaver) and the trap is winched onto the back of the pickup.
And the participants looking quite pleased with their "Job Well Done."
This bear had earlier been dubbed "Simon." Simon had been caught 3 times now and the "3 strikes and you're out" policy would indicate that he would be euthanized and made into a rug. A meeting was held and it was decided that the first capture would not be held against him because it was an accident; the trap had been set for a different bear. Also, there is some public pressure to save these magnificent creatures. The fact that game officers are paid "overtime" as well may have had some bearing on the decision to release him southwest of Grande Prairie. He had never hurt anyone nor killed any cattle. In July, Simon had been released in the Chinchaga River area, some 100 km north of us and he was, apparently, going back home to southern Alberta, some 650 km south.
This time he was released far south-west of Grande Prairie. We hope he stays far away from humans.
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