A close encounter between a young boy and a black bear in a residential Port Coquitlam neighbourhood was captured on surveillance video earlier this month.
A resident’s outdoor security camera shows the boy frozen in place on his scooter as a black bear lumbers across the street toward him, stopping just a few feet away. Before anything else can happen, a man jumps out of his truck and scares the bear off.
The encounter is one of an increasing number of residential run-ins being reported in B.C. this year, according to WildSafeBC Community Coordinator Kathy Murray. She said record-breaking wildfires and drought conditions over the summer dried up the province’s berry crop and have been pushing bears to find food elsewhere.
The B.C. Conservation Officer Service hasn’t released September figures yet, but says it received 5,963 black bear calls in August, up from 3,147 last year.
Murray said as bears prepare for hibernation they need around 30,000 calories a day. If they can’t find it in the wild, they’ll go searching for it in urban areas. It’s up to humans to make sure they aren’t tempting bears to enter their backyards and neighbourhoods, according to Murray. She said it’s only when bears know they have an easy source of food from people that they stick around in communities, which is when conflict can occur.
Unsecured garbage is the number one attractant, according to Murray, but she said even something like a pumpkin can draw a bear to a person’s home. She said such edible Halloween decorations should be brought in at night.
If someone does run into a bear, Murray said the most important thing is that the person remains calm and gives the bear the opportunity to escape.
“Identify yourself as a human and back away slowly. Never scream, never run because that will trigger the chasing instinct.”
She also recommended people walking or biking around a blind corner make noise to make sure they aren’t surprising any wildlife that may be just out of sight.
She said the reality is that all of B.C. is bear country. “So it is our responsibility to ensure our wildlife stays wild and people stay safe at home and in the backcountry.”