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Mountain News: Ski towns and valleys step up energy changes

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Evidence of Jackson Hole's less frantic economy can be found in the newspaper's classified advertisements. The rooms-to-rent listing has twice as many ads, and the other rentals are up three-fold.

Why less trouble in a down economy? The newspaper reported several theories, none of them compelling.

Huge grizzly killed in Banff, provoking angst

BANFF, Alberta - A train hit and killed a 600-pound male grizzly bear that last year had withstood an attack for four days by the nine wolves of the Bow Valley.

"The bear was 599 pounds, and was a pretty big, dominant part of the grizzly bear population here, if not all of the ecosystem, and this is a real blow to everyone and to the bear population," said  Steve Michel, a human-wildlife conflict specialist for Banff National Park.

Trains have been identified as a major threat to the grizzly bears, which are believed to be at minimum levels of sustainability in Banff National park. Since 2000, reports the Rocky Mountain Outlook, eight grizzly bears - three of them reproducing females - have been killed along the railway that slices through the park. In addition, those bears had five cubs, who were believed to have also died.

As well, the trains have struck and killed 11 black bears in Banff and another 11 in Yoho National Park.

The Canadian-Pacific Railway has been heavily criticized for allowing grain to fall off passing hopper cars, which in turn attract the bears. A necropsy found no evidence the latest dead grizzly had been eating grain, but Jim Pissot of Defenders of Wildlife Canada speculated that the bear may have been habituated to visit the tracks in search of grain.

The railway and Parks Canada, the manager of Banff, a decade ago came up with ways to reduce wildlife deaths. Pissot said it's now time to take those additional steps, such as fencing and wildlife crossings.

Peter Dettling, also writing in the Outlook, related that he had witnessed the bear withstand an attack by the nine wolves in the Bow Valley wolf pack last year for four days. 'I still feel admiration for him, mixed with deep regret, sadness, frustration and anger," he writes.

While Banff has been called the "crown jewel" of national parks, he says, the truth is very much the opposite. And he further contends that a report made by a park warden in1955 that "the railroad and highways are the greatest wildlife hazard in the park" remains true today.

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