Grizzly bear activity prompts Whistler to shut down nearly a dozen trails

A grizzly bear roams near Beaver Lake in Yellowstone National Park on July 6, 2011. (Jim Urquhart/AP)

Those planning to head up to Whistler over the long weekend may have to rethink their recreational plans as nearly a dozen hiking trails in the region have been closed due to increased grizzly bear activity.

The municipality has shut down the Mount Sproatt and Rainbow Alpine Trail network, which includes the following trails:

  • Rainbow Lake hiking trail (above Flank Trail)
  • Hanging Lake camping area
  • Into the Mystic (above Less Trail)
  • On the Rocks
  • With A Twist
  • Pot of Gold
  • Ninja Loop Upper
  • Lord of the Squirrels
  • Happy Hour
  • Last Call
  • Rush Hour

The closure will remain in effect until Sept. 11.

In a news release issued Friday, the Resort Municipality of Whistler and the Conservation Officer Service say they will continue to monitor grizzly activity in the area and the trail closures could be extended as a result.

The resort municipality says the closure will also help minimize the impacts of recreational trail use on grizzly bear habitat.

"The alpine areas of Mount Sproatt and Rainbow Lake provide ideal foraging habitat for the grizzly bears, especially in late summer/early fall when the bears are entering the hyperphagia period."

It adds that this period is right before hibernation, when bears need to feed continuously in order to prepare for the winter.

"Human interactions during this time cause disruptions to their feeding which can lead to aggressive behaviour," the resort municipality says.