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Reports of Whistler grizzly turn out to be 'brown-phased black bear'

Sea to Sky zone saw 125 grizzly calls in 2023
A large, brown, black bear (that admittedly looks a lot like a grizzly) was relocated from Cheakamus on May 8.

Some Whistler residents reported seeing a grizzly in the Cheakamus neighbourhood this week, but according to the Ministry of Environment, it was actually a very large black bear (of the brown variety).

"COS attended a report of a grizzly bear sighting today, in Cheakamus area of Whistler," a ministry spokesperson said in an email May 8. 

"COS met with the person reporting the sighting on site and identified the bear as a brown-phased black bear.* Bear was moved off into a nearby wooded area due to its proximity to a dog park."

This report may have been a false alarm, but stats show Whistler saw a drastic increase in grizzly calls in 2023.

According to stats provided by the ministry, there were 125 grizzly calls in the Sea to Sky zone in 2023, with most coming in October (43), followed by June (24), September (14), and December (13). May and November both saw 11 calls related to grizzlies in 2023, while July had six, April had two and August just one one.

Compare that to 2022, when 28 conflicts were reported.

According to the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW), officials are working on updating the RMOW's conflict mitigation strategy, with more details reportedly to come—sooner rather than later, one would hope.

*The ministry spokesperson reached out after this story was published to clarify they meant "brown-phased" rather than "brown fazed." So the bear was not upset, just sort of brown.