Black bear breaks into lunch boxes, picnic baskets on B.C. beach

Conservation officers say the animal is unusually aggressive and goes right up to people

A hungry black bear has been kicking up a fuss on a Metro Vancouver beach, leaving conservation officers concerned about what the animal might do next.

Conservation officer Eric Tyukodi said the bear has been hanging around White Pine Beach in Port Moody’s Belcarra Park since Thursday.

“It’s been eating right out of people’s lunch boxes and picnic baskets with people right beside them,” said Tyukodi. “A woman was sunbathing on the beach and the bear came right up behind her and started eating her food.”

Half a dozen parks staff and conservation officers tried to chase it away, but it was “very nonplussed about us yelling at it.

“I was physically pushing coolers and barbecues away from it.”

Tyukodi said the animal finally moved once he ran and yelled at it.

Black bears don’t typically attack people, and bears aren’t uncommon in the region’s wilder areas, but this particular one is much more aggressive and food-habituated than most.

“Literally thousands of people use this beach. Everyone was sitting there, making noise and it was still coming towards us looking for food,” Tyukodi said.

He’s worried someone will get too close or try to scare the bear off, angering it or backing it into a corner. “Bears are just like people: they want their personal space.

Conservation officers have a trap set for the bear on White Pine Beach, which has been closed to vehicles.

The focus is on getting the bear away from the beach and then they’ll see if it can be relocated safely.

Although pedestrians are still allowed in, they can’t bring in food.

The bear was spotted near a pier recently, and another one, although perhaps it was the same one, was seen wandering around Port Moody.

Tyukodi, who’s headed there again Monday afternoon to see check in on the animal, hopes people stay away it.

If you see a bear, “the number one thing is do not run. Don’t turn your back on it,” he said. “Definitely make sure the bear sees you. Wave your arms and back away slowly. No sudden movements.”

It’s important to not leave food unattended, to throw away trash in bear-safe bins, and to keep small kids and dogs close, and on-leash, anywhere in the wilderness, he said.

Sometimes, a dog can go chasing after a bear, “and then it comes back angry.”

If you see a bear where it shouldn’t be going, call the B.C. Conservation Officers Service at 1-877-952-7277.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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