Conservation officer Chris Doyle has a message for campers and that's to properly secure their food and not to leave bear attractants around a campsite. They were forced to close the Forest Service campground at Strawberry Point on Lillooet Lake after a bear threatened campers.
"The bear had obtained a food reward at the campsite and kept returning," said Doyle. "It showed no fear whatsoever of people, and was approaching people and pushing them out of their sites to obtain food. It was serious enough that we recommended that the site be closed."
As of Tuesday evening the campsite was still closed as conservation officers attempted to capture the bear. It's not known if the bear will be destroyed as a result of its aggressive behaviour.
"After we capture it we'll make an assessment of what to do at that point, but its behaviour was such that it will likely be destroyed."
Bear attractants include food that has been left out, and even items like toothpaste or shampoo that smells like food. Keeping your food in a cooler in a locked vehicle is one way to keep bears from smelling it, and many campgrounds have secure storage areas.
That wasn't the only bear call last week. Bears were reported breaking into two homes in Whistler this past weekend, prompting the conservation officers to set up traps. One bear was caught and then tagged and released when it became clear that the bear likely wasn't the one sought by conservation officers. Another bear was darted while trying to break into a home in Whistler, then ran into the woods. That bear was found dead in a pond two days later with no explanation for what happened - and whether it was the result of the drug.
"There is always a risk when we're immobilizing a bear that it will have time to take off," said Doyle. "In rare situations when we do immobilize bears we make sure it's safe as possible. This bear had to be dealt with because it attempted to enter a residence."
For the long weekend, the Conservation Officer Service will be out patrolling recreation campsites and recreation areas, as well as conducting boat safety inspections. Doyle said they recently fined a boater on Lillooet Lake for a number of boating violations and ordered the boat off the water.
Violations include licencing, consuming alcohol, not having life jackets or required safety equipment like sounding devices, a buoyant heaving line, paddles and other gear.
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