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Grizzly still active in Whistler

COS asks public to give the bear space to avoid conflict
Whistler's Balsam Park and the adjacent soccer fields at Myrtle Philip Community School are closed due to a grizzly bear in the area.

Whistler's Balsam Park and the adjacent soccer fields at Myrtle Philip Community School are closed, as a grizzly bear is still active in the area.

Pique observed the grizzly grazing on the soccer fields from a distance at about 9 a.m. on Saturday morning (though by 11:30, the grizzly had moved on).

"Additionally, the lower section of the trail ‘Cut Yer Bars,’ which runs parallel to the lower Myrtle Philip fields connecting to Balsam Park, will be closed to reduce the risk of surprise encounters with the grizzly bear," the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) said in a Facebook comment on Oct. 11.

The BC Conservation Officer Service (COS) is requesting the public give the bear space and avoid the area to reduce potential conflict.

The closures will remain in place until further notice. If you encounter a bear, give it space, back away slowly from the area and speak in a calm, firm voice.

"We recognize bear activity in communities can cause concern for area residents. Conservation Officers will respond as necessary to ensure public safety," a Ministry of Environment spokesperson said in an email Saturday.

The bear has not exhibited any aggressive or conflict behaviour, they added.

"To help ensure bears do not linger, we are asking the public to ensure food attractants are securely stored," they said.

"People can help us by inspecting their yards and properties and ensuring any attractants, such as garbage, pet food, composts, or birdseed, are properly secured. Please ensure barbecues are clean and fruit is removed from trees and the ground."

Reports can be made to the Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) hotline at 1-877-952-7277.

The grizzly was first spotted last weekend at Nicklaus North Golf Course, prompting a closure.

Earlier this summer, a 300-pound female grizzly was tranquilized and relocated in early June near the Fairmont Chateau Whistler.

It's unclear if it is the same grizzly in both instances.

From Jan. 1 to July 5, the COS received 30 reports of grizzly encounters in the Whistler area, and encounters have doubled in recent years.

Report all sightings of grizzly bears to COS at: 1-877-952-7277.