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Mountain View BearSmart asks for meeting with MLA

Following the May 25 Water Valley bear attack that killed a woman, the society hosted two days of training workshops
MVT bear spray lesson
Paul Fraser, longtime chairman of Mountain View BearSmart Society demonstrates the use of bear spray on a bear-track machine outside the Water Valley Community Hall on June 3. File photo/MVP Staff

MOUNTAIN VIEW COUNTY - Mountain View BearSmart Society officials are asking for a meeting with area MLA Jason Nixon following a bear attack that killed a woman in Water Valley in May.

BearSmart promotes awareness of bear dangers through its website and in-person events and workshops. Nixon is the MLA for Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre and minister of Environment and Parks.

In a letter to Nixon, dated June 30 and accepted by county council on July 14, Mountain View County deputy reeve and BearSmart board member Greg Harris asked Nixon for a meeting.

Following the May 25 Water Valley bear attack, the society hosted two days of training workshops for residents and visitors on bear safety, including the use of bear spray.

Following that workshop at the Water Valley Community Hall, the society was contacted by a Fish and Wildlife officer, Harris said in the June 30 letter.

“Mountain View County and BearSmart have recently been contacted by an officer in Canmore wanting to set up another session in Water Valley, indicating that your office and you personally were not pleased with our response to the bear encounter,” he said.

“We are a little confused since this officer is not our normal contact, although he has attended and assisted with other presentations in past years.”

BearSmart and county officials would like to meet with Nixon to discuss ongoing efforts to promote public safety, he said in the June 30 letter.

“I feel it would be beneficial if we could arrange a meeting with yourself and staff to discuss the issues surrounding the delivery of bear behaviour and safety education for the future as well as response to bear incidents for communities in general,” he said.

“I am seeking to clarify on your office’s wishes for further bear awareness and safety training for your and our residents. We highly value our working relationship with (Alberta Environment and Parks) and the ongoing assistance provided by our liaison officer as well as area F&W officers.”

Mountain View County council passed a motion accepting the June 30 letter as information.

Contacted by The Albertan, Nixon provided the following statement:

“My office has received the letter from Mountain View County and we look forward to meeting with county officials in the near future to further discuss efforts to mitigate encounters between humans and bears in our communities.”

He also provided a second statement, which reads: “My office has not had any conversations with officers based in Canmore regarding bear safety.”

A 68-year-old woman was walking near her Water Valley residence when she was attacked and killed by a female grizzly bear. The bear responsible was later tracked down and destroyed.