Officials at Banff National Park say the first bear of spring could be a sign that Alberta's long, cold winter may finally be on its way out.
Banff resource officer Mike Grande says the 225-kilogram male grizzly was slowly making its way through deep snow when it was spotted by a rail crew a couple of days ago about 15 kilometres west of the Banff town site.
He says the animal still had plenty of winter fat, and, despite the heavy snow, was probably lured out of hibernation by warmer weather after months of below-average temperatures.
"We had that warmer weather. If it had been a little bit cooler when he first poked his head out, then maybe he would have stayed in a little bit longer," said Grande.
"In terms of an emergence, this is about as early as it normally happens. That's not a bad sign for sure."
Grande said most people don't realize that grizzlies are omnivores, meaning they'll eat both plants and animals, and only about 15 per cent of their diet comes from meat.
The grizzly sighting is a reminder to the public that it's once again bear season in the park and care must be taken, he said.