• A grizzly and her cubs in Kananaskis Country (Photo: Traveler100/Wikimedia Commons)

The population of grizzly bears in the Foothills east of Jasper and Banff national parks grew by seven per cent per year between 2004 and 2014, an increase more than double the normal rate, according to a survey by the Foothills Research Institute.

“Normally a bear population in North America grows at a rate of three per cent a year,” Gord Stenhouse, the leader of the institute’s grizzly bear program, told the CBC.

It’s not known exactly why the population of bears in the region increased to an estimated 74 animals in 2014, up from 36 in 2004, but Stenhouse believes at least two factors could have played a role. "We know that we have moved a number of bears in Alberta into this population over the last 10 years, so the increase could be partly as a result of those relocated bears coming into this area,” he told the CBC. “And the other part could be that we've managed to keep human-caused mortality rates down so that the population is growing faster than one might expect.”

The survey said that the provincial moratorium on hunting grizzly bears has played a role in reducing overall human-caused mortalities since it was put into place in 2006. Alberta listed the grizzly as a threatened species in 2010.