Momma grizzly speaks out

Letter to the editor

Re: Grizzly bear mother who killed Calgary hunter in Kananaskis Country and cub will be left alone, Alberta Parks says

“As one of the few remaining grizzly bears in Alberta, it’s important that every one of us is protected, so I was so relieved to hear that I wouldn’t be shot and killed. With so little habitat available to us, I have become very protective of my food and my cub, especially with winter coming. The real issue here is that hunting should not be allowed in areas where grizzly bears live.

Hunter Richard Cross was killed by a Grizzly bear near Picklejar Lakes in the Elbow-Sheep Wildland Provincial Park

Hunter Richard Cross was killed by a Grizzly bear near Picklejar Lakes in the Elbow-Sheep Wildland Provincial Park

I am saddened by this family’s loss but my heart also aches for all the animals and their families who are killed for sport at the hands of a human. When a mother bear, wolf, or cougar is killed, it almost certainly means the deaths of her dependant offspring. This story could have had a much different ending. If I hadn’t been on guard, it’s very likely there would have been three deaths here. The hunter would probably have shot me(legally) in a defensive act, my helpless cub would have starved to death, and the hunter would have continued on to kill a bighorn sheep, his ultimate goal. All this destruction to enable a beautiful, living wild animal to be killed and displayed on someone’s living room wall. I kill to eat or to protect my cub. Can someone tell me why humans have a need to kill, simply for sport?

Grizzly bear and cubI hope the citizens of Alberta will contact their representatives and let them know that we’re at a great disadvantage when it comes to people with guns. Grizzly bears are  listed as a threatened species, so it seems very hypocritical that we can so easily be shot and killed by a hunter who feels at risk. Furthermore, I hope all hunters and recreationists will carry bear spray and have it easily accessible. It stings my eyes and hurts, but everyone survives to live another day.

I think it’s ridiculous and shortsighted of the provincial government to allow hunting in the areas where grizzly bears are still found. Albertans are stewards of a precious place where some wildness and a few wild animals still exist. Allow us to live in peace.”

Momma grizzly bear

A follow-up to this story has been posted here: Who owns Alberta’s wildlife

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  1. I am disappointed that this site would present a trite first person anthropization of a tragic encounter between a wild animal and a human. Particularly, using the event as a platform to argue anti-hunting views is offensive to me given the scope of this website.

    There have been numerous bears attacks upon recreationalists which have resulted in the bear being destroyed. As a solution perhaps we should, as Douglas Peacock author of “The Grizzly Years” espouses, stay out of grizzly country altogether. Not just hunters, all of us who tread where grizzlies live. Not just bear country but cougar country as well, as the fatal attack of a female xc skier in the winter of 2001 on the Lake Minawanka trail led to the destruction of the offending cat; the same logic should apply.

    As for the semantics of your argument, the stats do not support your imagined outcome of a dead bear at the hands of a hunter defending themselves. As you suggest, bear spay is far more effective.

    Moreover, as anyone who has had a significant encounter with a bear where a charge or worse took place can attest, you had better have your gun or bear spray ready at hand at ALL times because there is no time to get it ready.

    Wildlife encroachment issues do not belong to the domain of hunting as an isolated activity. All user groups play a role. You have used speculation and argued from a political anti-hunting view. You have taken a tragic and devastating incident and trivialized it with a Disney type storyline. You need not have. Conservation Officers already presented the bears’ side when they determined her behaviour to be defensive and ruled against destroying her.

  2. momma grizzly is laughing at starbucks idots in their suv’s that want to protect her and her cub ; she says stay the f*** out of her home and she won’t have to kill u

    Chuper, the screening committee has edited your comment to make it conform to community standards. -Bob

  3. Someone was asking “What makes you think that this person was hunting for sport?”

    The Calgary Sun had a story on the hunter, Rick Cross that stated “Cross still found time to bag trophy sheep in the backcountry”
    Trophy hunting is disgusting. Sure it’s legal in Kananaskis, but that doesn’t make it right.

  4. My sister was shot and killed seven years ago by a hunter.
    “Lucas was part of a hunting party in the Elbow-Sheep Wildland Provincial Park in southwestern Alberta’s Kananaskis Country when he shot the four- to five-year-old female grizzly on Oct. 21, 2007.”
    She wasn’t killed by a hiker, or a picnicker, but by someone who was allowed to have a gun.

    • And, as the story goes on to say, he was charged with several offences and was facing a fine of up to $500,000. He was later acquitted, after the presiding judge in the case agreed with Lucas’ claim of self-defence.

      For the record, I am by no means supporting or implying that anyone should have the right to carry a gun, head into the wild, and just start shooting at anything that just might happen to cross his or her path and then claim “self-defence”. This person was charged, taken to court for his actions, and later found not guilty. I’ll trust that the case presented was solid enough to justify the decision. Also, I have no respect for poaching in any way, shape, or form, and I hope that convicted poachers are punished as severely as possible, especially when poaching a threatened or endangered species. I would hope that most hunters practice their sport legally, wherever they chose to hunt.

      And with that, I sign off on this discussion. Hunting in the wilderness is such a hot-button topic that both sides could talk back and forth for years with no resolution, sort of like the “should dogs be allowed on ski trails” debate. I’ll see y’all on the trails, and regardless if you are for hunting or against hunting, I hope that all of you have a safe and injury free ski season. I for one look forward to checking out the new trails at WBC.

  5. I agree with “Momma grizzly bear”

  6. I feel compelled to comment, even though it is probably not in my best interests. However, I take strong issue with this editorial. For the record, I am not a hunter and have no interest in taking up hunting. Also, in the interests of full disclosure, I have friends and acquaintances that know Mr. Cross, and I know they are very shook up by his tragic death. (And,one of my hunter friends holds a graduate business degree and works for a major financial firm, so I assume his IQ is well above 100. Let’s keep ad homium attacks out of this.)

    First of all, the editorial starts with the claim that “The real issue here is that hunting should not be allowed in areas where grizzly bears live.” How that can be the real issue is beyond me. By all accounts this is simply a tragic accident, where Mr. Cross, through no fault of his own, got between a bear, her cub, and her kill. That Mr. Cross was hunting has no bearing in this. He could have been fishing, hiking, or having a picnic. To move from the facts of the case to a belief that the real issue is hunting where grizzly bears live is pushing the evidence in a direction it can’t go. By that line of logic ALL activity where grizzly bears live should be banned, including skiing.

    Secondly, paragraphs three and four show the author’s bias against hunting. That the author doesn’t enjoy hunting is fine: he’s entitled to his belief. However, big-game hunting is a legal activity, regulated by the province, and by all accounts Mr. Cross was legally hunting for game in an area he is legally allowed to hunt in. The editorial moves from the initial claim to one against hunting in general. Would the author feel the same sense of outrage if Mr. Cross was fishing and not hunting? Fish are wild creatures as well.

    Thirdly, the point of the editorial is questionable. The author states “I hope the citizens of Alberta will contact their representatives and let them know that we’re at a great disadvantage when it comes to people with guns. Grizzly bears are listed as a threatened species, so it seems very hypocritical that we can so easily be shot and killed by a hunter who feels at risk.” But, in this case we have a hunter who is dead, not a bear. The bear is allowed to live, so what is the author upset about? The end result, the bear being allowed to live, is exactly what the author wanted.

    • There’s a hole in your argument big enough to drive a bus through. Comparing hikers, picnickers and fisherman to hunters with guns is more than disingenuous. With hikers and fishermen, the bear lives. In most cases, the hunter with a gun will kill the bear and claim self-defence. That’s why we need to keep guns out of K country.

      • Not disingenuous at all, and there is no hole in my argument. Your claim, which is “With hikers and fishermen, the bear lives. In most cases, the hunter with a gun will kill the bear and claim self-defence” certainly doesn’t work in this case, otherwise we’d have a dead bear and a fully alive hunter. Mr. Cross, even if he wanted to fire at the bear in self-defence, obviously could not use his gun, for reasons we cannot know and will never know. Furthermore, you work from the assumption that the hunter would immediately have the gun loaded and ready, aim, shoot, and be able to hit with a kill shot on first shot, all with the bear coming down on him. Possible I guess, but obviously not true in this circumstance.

        I believe my main claim still holds: this is a tragic accident, nothing more, nothing less. Any debate on the validity of guns and hunting in K Country is another discussion. In this specific case, the fact that Mr. Cross was hunting is irrelevant to the end result.

  7. I can understand the joy of seeking out a chance to see a bighorn sheep, but putting a bullet in the animal and having your picture taken as a sign of your delight….sick. Hunting should not be allowed anywhere in K country.

  8. Thankful and relieved that Mama Grizzly will not be killed

  9. I am only going to say this once. So all of you anti-hunters and animal rights “people” can hopefully pay attention long enough to listen to what I have to say. What makes you think that this person was hunting for sport? Did it for one second creep into your minds that this person was hunting for food to feed his family? If you have a problem with that, you are obviously the same city folk who thinks their prime rib comes from the grocery store instead the farms of second, third, fourth generation and so on farmers and ranchers. While I have hunted all my life, I have hunted for food, not sport, I do not hunt for “inches of bone on head”, but mainly for the organic health benefits that wild meat provides, and not the loaded with hormones beef and chicken from the grocery store that is scientifically proven to be not healthy for humans in large quanties. Heck, you could say that about any vegetable you buy now too that isn’t organic. Back to hunting, people seem to forget their history. Long before we got this sad state of a society where money, technology, and greed drive everything people hunted , fished , and trapped to provide for their families. Not for fun, but out of neccessity. Although I have a bit of a problem with trapping especially non humane methods, I do understand its purpose. I can only speculate the circumstances leading up to this mans death. Bear, wolf and cougar encounters are inherent risks anyone using the outdoors for work, or recreation takes. That includes hikers , hunters, anglers, trappers, campers, and you are going to hate this… cross country skiers as well. Yes, the bears are in hibernation long before you stick your noses outside. That isn’t my point. Do any of you have even the slightest bit if intelligence what would happen if all hunting was stopped? Wildlife populations would skyrocket and more if you would be seeing deer eating your flowers, moose laying on your front lawns and bears up in your trees and scratching the paint off of your fancy BMW’s or worse yet, insurance rates would go through the roof as wildlife vehicle collisions would increase. Maybe those of you with high paying executive jobs can afford an increase or buy a new vehicle every year. But for us blue collar workers that have to work for our money and what we have instead of having it given to us, we can’t afford to go down that road. Hunting is the bolt tool to keep the populations in check. The only other method other than relocation to a climate where animals will not do well do they die anyways, is an all out cull by government officials at the taxpayers expense. Hunting brings millions of dollars into the provincial and local economies every year with license and tag purchases, new firearms, ammunition, gear, fuel, food, hotel rooms etc etc. some of the small towns in the country would not able to survive without it. Although I agree 100 percent that the offending animal (s) shouldn’t be euthanized for protecting their young or behaving naturally. It is either kill or be killed on the wild. Nature shows no mercy. I also agree with not re-opening a grizzly hunt because the population numbers aren’t there. The issue comes down to the amount of people using the backcountry and the amount of people moving to the province. Calgary is projected to hit 2.5 million people by 2050. That is just Calgary itself, without taking other communities into consideration. K country is a 45 minute drive away, we keep logging forests, drilling for oil and minerals , building houses and businesses, developing mega malls and golf courses , not to mention other habitat degredation. All of this acts have a far greater negative impact on our wildlife populations than hunting ever did or ever will. Keep that in mind.

    • There’s a difference between killing to survive and killing for fun. I doubt this hunter needed the meat to survive, seeing that diabolical grin on his face. As for skyrocketing wildlife populations, they seemed to control themselves just fine before men with guns came along. Hunters killed off the bears, cougars and wolves, and this allowed the deer and elk populations to soar. In your long and rambling rant defending killers, you didn’t even touch on the subject that Momma grizzly was concerned with: hunting in K-country. It definitely shouldn’t be allowed.

    • You make a lot of stupid arguments. But clearly the winner is: you are hunting in order to protect the paint on my BMW. I have met many hunters and there has always been one consistent factor – their IQ is usually well under 100.

    • You sound like a reasonable person, and you make some good points.
      I can’t disagree at all that the population boom around Calgary is having a large impact on wildlife.

      But you can’t have anyone really believe that hunters and pro-hunters are good ‘ole blue collar folk, while conservationists and environmentalists are the wicked white collar class.

      What about the guy who’ll pay tens of thousands of dollars to come up here for a chance to take that Big Horn skull home with him? Do you think that he drives a ’97 Mazda, and needs to kill in order to top up his belly full of cream puffs and corn chips?
      Or how about the guy who’s property has three swimming pools larger than my son’s schoolyard, who simply buys a made to order Big Horn rack for his new den, and pays cash?
      These are completely cruel and unnecessary losses of these beautiful creatures lives.

  10. Grizzly bears are struggling to survive in a world where we are forever encroaching upon it. I like to think that most of my readers have a healthy respect for nature and are interested in its preservation. The recent events at Picklejar lake created a lot of controversy among readers of the story in the Calgary Herald and the Calgary Sun. The Herald story is followed by 105 comments.

    In the Calgary Sun, with 90 comments, the most popular comment was “I sincerely hope they don’t euthanize the bear and cub. I’m sure Mr Cross understood the risks and the bear was just doing what mother bears do.”

    If you want to read a compelling page-turner, The Black Grizzly of Whiskey Creek by former Banff warden Sid Marty will give you some great insight. It’s a true story, most of which happened in the Banff townsite, and much of the action in the book unfolds from the perspective of a bear. I couldn’t put it down while reading it, yet I would be hard-pressed to ever pick it up and read it again because I know what’s in it. It’s a fascinating read for anyone who visits the Alberta mountain parks. A Globe reviewer said “Some chapters will have your adrenalin coursing and your heart pounding; one or two others may make you weep.”

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