Hiker Shoots and Leaves Black Bear Injured in Jasper National Park

by Jon D. B.

The visitor brought a loaded 20-gauge shotgun onto their Jasper National Park hike, which was used to shoot the black bear.

“For a hiker to be hiking on one of our various hiking trails with a loaded firearm and use that as a tool of self-protection, that’s unprecedented,” says Dave Argument, resource conservation manager for Jasper National Park in the wake of the event.

Over the weekend, Jasper Dispatch received a call from another hiker. The report? Their friend had shot a black bear with a 20-gauge shotgun while hiking Jasper’s Overlander Trail. The perpetrator shot the bear about seven kilometers east of the trailhead, Parks Canada cites for CBC.

According to the park, the hiking pair spotted the bear about 30 meters (30 yards) away. The armed visitor then fired a warning shot in the bear’s direction. This spurred a reaction in the bear, but it didn’t retreat, so the visitor fired directly at the bear, hitting it. It then rolled down the creekbank, with the hikers leaving the area immediately.

Jasper officials aren’t aware of the black bear’s state, but did find blood at the scene. The armed individual was charged with “several counts” under the Canada National Parks Act as a result, Parks Canada continues. 

It’s an ongoing investigation, but one thing is for certain: there’s a wounded black bear on the loose in Jasper National Park.

Black Bear

When injured, bears can enter a heightened fight or flight state that makes them highly aggressive. Overlander Trail was still closed earlier this week as Parks Canada swept the area. For now, Jasper staff’s main concern is to confirm the bear is not still in the area and not severely injured. If it is, officials may need to humanely euthanize the bear. If found dead, then the body will require relocation away from the public trail.

North American black bear stares into the camera. (Photo credit: M Lorenz Photography via Getty Images)

So far, “the search for the bear was very challenging due to due dense forest conditions and topography,” Parks Canada’s statement continues.

Regardless, “The statistics on bear encounter incident rates really support the fact that the tool of choice to improve your safety in bear country is making sure you carry bear spray [and] that you know how to use it,” PC adds.

Studies show firearms are less effective against an aggressive black or brown bear than bear spray. But the best defense is to always hike in a group in bear country, and make plenty of noise as you do.

For more on black bear safety, see Outsider’s: