In the wake of increasing 'bear activity' in the Municipality of Jasper in 2023, Parks Canada is calling for residents to remove bear-attracting fruit trees. Incidents involving bears in town have increased 200% in the last two years, from 90 incidents in 2021 to more than 300 in 2023. While Parks Canada relocated nine black bears from the Jasper townsite in 2022 and 2023, at least three returned and one cub died “during the arduous journey back.” The organization asserts its best not to relocate bears, but to deter them from coming into the townsite in the first place — and fruit seems to be the most common attraction for bears wandering into town. Bears “habituate” to fruit trees within the township, even at the risk of being hazed or encountering electric fences. Parks Canada said about a dozen of the bear incidents involved the pursuit of fruit and cited “approximately 900 non-native fruit trees” within the municipality, which lure the bears in — especially as winter approaches. “Keeping bears out of town is not possible while fruit remains accessible as a food source,” Jasper National Park/Parks Canada wrote in a press release, raising the safety concern of the “persistent presence of bears in town.”“This creates a strong attractant for bears stocking up on calories before winter,” Parks Canada said. “Removing fruit trees and attractants is the most effective approach to keeping bears out of town.”Specific incidents involving bears and fruit include “bears feeding in trees near schools, daycares and playgrounds; unexpectedly encountering residents; bluff-charging dogs and people,” and scavenging for food in people’s backyards. Parks Canada mapped out several ways to deter bears from entering the township and plan to “incorporate lessons learned” from other regions such as Canmore and Banff “where there are fewer incidents of bears in townsites.”To “adapt to the bears,” Parks Canada wildlife specialists are “leveraging an adaptive management approach,” the press release said and explained Jasper National Park aims to address the problem “by collaborating with residents and the municipality.”Parks Canada said earlier this fall, its staff went door to door in the Jasper township handing out “replacement-tree brochures,” which outlined “options for residents encouraged to remove non-native and ornamental fruit trees.”Parks Canada has already removed more than 200 fruit trees from residential and commercial properties since 2019, and “at least 10 trees were voluntarily removed by owners themselves” in 2023.