By Laura Keil
After a visit to Valemount last week, the BC Conservation Office is monitoring the situation with regards to a juvenile grizzly that has been making forays into town.
Warren Chayer, a Conservation Officer based in Clearwater, said they came up on Fri. Oct. 13th and again on the 14th, but they were unsuccessful in locating the bear. If spotted, their plan was to “haze” the bear into leaving the area using non-lethal means.
He says they haven’t had any reports of it in the last five days, and hopes this means it is moving on.
He says it will take everyone pulling together, by removing deterrents including such things as barbecues, garbage and fruit trees.
“These animals are trying to fatten up before winter … hopefully this bear which has shown some signs of habituation will follow its stomach and be led out of town and end up somewhere like Camp Creek with the spawning kokanee. But it’s going to take everyone in town to buckle down and make sure there’s no foodstuffs in the area,” he says. “It’s up to us as humans to manage our attractants to manage that bear and any other bears and give it the best chance to avoid conflict with humans and the bear being removed.”
If they receive more reports of the bear, they would return to haze it.
“We’re monitoring it,” he said.
A couple biking along the Beaver Brush Traverse bike trail said they encountered the grizzly close to the end of Main Street on Sunday. The bear appeared unphased by their presence.
Chayer says his office’s actions are determined by the bear and the behaviour it’s displaying.
“If we got more calls we’d try to make it uncomfortable and haze it out of town with less-than-lethal deterrents.”
He says they have guidelines as to when they introduce different methods and techniques in dealing with it.
“We’d like to give it the best chance at getting out on its own without putting human safety at too much risk either. It’s a balancing act. And it’s totally determined by what the bear shows us. If the bear escalates what it’s doing to us, then we up our response level.”
He says the quicker residents can deal with garbage and attractants the better off everyone’s going to be.
“They’re governed by their stomachs especially at this time of year. They’re trying to fatten up before hibernation.”
He says people should even remove dog foods and animal feed like grain. He says if he can’t get to the dump right away he double bags his garbage and stores it downstairs.