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Recent Metro Vancouver bear encounters prompt warning from awareness group

Last Updated Jul 27, 2020 at 7:09 am PDT

A bear is seen at Elk Falls Provincial Park on Vancouver Island. (Dean Recksiedler, NEWS 1130 Photo)

Recent encounters in Metro Vancouver are raising concerns about the aggressive nature of bears

Warning comes after 10-year-old girl was attacked in North Vancouver last week

Another bear was shot and killed over the weekend in Coquitlam

NORTH VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – There are concerns that bears are becoming more aggressive after a little girl was attacked in North Vancouver last week and another bruin was culled in Coquitlam over the weekend.

A local group says humans are mostly to blame. Luci Cadman with the North Shore Brown Bear Society says a few factors may be at play this year.

With more and more people heading into the backcountry to shake off the COVID-19 lockdown, Cadman says we’re tramping into the bear’s home turf.

“And lots of bad behaviour by people. People going into these parks, and the forests, and the trails, and leaving food unattended, and approaching bears for photographs with their cellphones,” she tells NEWS 1130.

Cadman says while it’s fine to escape into nature, she notes people need to know that mothers and cubs tend to come down the hills this time of year.

“And they will occupy areas a little bit closer to people. And that’s, in fact, to seek safety from dominant male bears who prefer to be active at night in areas away from people,” she explains.

Misconceptions around what to do when we encounter bears can also result in a bad situation.

“The messaging used to be ‘if you see a bear, be big and be loud.’ Now we know we don’t do that. All you do when you’re big and loud during a close encounter is you pressure the bear to respond,” she says, adding it’s best to just keep your cameras and phones in your pocket or bag, and walk away.

Of course, the other big thing is to not keep any food around for bears to sniff out.

The bear attack on the 10-year-old girl happened when the child was walking with her family in North Vancouver Friday afternoon. It prompted the closure of Rice Lake Park, with the B.C. Conservation Officer Service saying there had been multiple sightings of the bear.

The girl was apparently bit when her family members tried to chase the bear away. She’s since been taken to the hospital and is doing well.

Conservation officers were forced to shoot and kill a bear with a history of chasing people off of a Coquitlam golf course before rifling through their bags in search of food a day later, on Saturday.

The B.C. Conservation Officers Service said the bear was “food-habituated” and that relocating the animal wasn’t an option.