West Vancouver residents are being asked to keep an eye out for orphaned bear cubs after two sows were killed recently, one on Highway 1 and another by conservation officers after it pushed its way into a Westmount home.
On Thursday afternoon, BC Conservation Officer Service members were called to the Upper Levels Highway in the Caulfeild area after a driver struck and gravely injured a bear on the roadway. The sow had to be euthanized at the scene. On closer inspection, conservation officer Simon Gravel saw the sow was lactating, indicating there was likely a cub or yearling nearby.
“It's an unfortunate situation,” said Gravel.
If it was a cub born this year, it needs to be found ASAP and taken to the Critter Care Wildlife Society for rehabilitation, Gravel said. If it’s a yearling, it is likely old enough to survive on its own and was probably preparing to venture out away from its mother permanently,
“If they see a very small bear by itself, we’re inviting the public to report it to the RAPP line and that will trigger a response,” he said. “Don't approach the bear and don't try to capture it yourself. Don't feed the bear. We'll have a team respond to take care of the cub.”
It’s second time this year a bear was hit and killed in that same area.
The North Shore Black Bear Society, meanwhile, is sending volunteers to the Gisby Street area of the Westmount neighbourhood hoping to spot two very small “cat-sized” cubs.
Conservation officers trapped the mother bear on July 9 and destroyed it after it gained access to a family’s home and was chased out, but not before snagging some food from the kitchen. The COS has set up a trap and motion sensing cameras in hopes of catching the cubs and taking them to Critter Care.
North Shore Black Bear Society executive director Luci Cadman said she will be pushing the COS to be more transparent and timelier with disclosing when traps are set and when bears are killed.
“These cubs, who are incredibly vulnerable, have been out there on their own for a number of days now. … We could have found them earlier had we had the information,” she said. “I understand absolutely that the Conservation Officer Service are under-resourced and the pressure on them is very high. But certainly, that can't be the way moving forward. We can't be treating animals this way.”
It has been an especially bad year for bears making their way into people’s homes, Gravel said.
“I think we’ve had six or seven home invasions in the last week or two here. So there's been a lot of issues. We just had another one this afternoon, as well,” he said Thursday. “In one case, the bear entered the same house that he entered last year. We know it's the same bear.”
The COS and the Black Bear Society have a fundamental disagreement over the risk posed by bears that have entered homes. Gravel said that learned behaviour won’t be forgotten and the bear will most assuredly make other attempts in the future. Cadman said, based on the hundreds of bear reports the society receives every year, instances of bears entering a home a second time are extremely rare.
Meanwhile, Cadman said she is aware of an adult male bear with an injured paw making appearances in yards around the upper Lynn Valley and Braemar area.
“He’s going spend a bit more time in the community while he heals,” Cadman said. “The best thing that we can do is just give him lots space and make sure there's no food for him.”
As always, garbage tends to be the No. 1 attractant, Cadman said, and the lockable carts used by the by the District of North Vancouver are not bear-proof.
Gravel said he’s noticed a trend of North Shore residents becoming far too casual about letting bears hang out in their yards.
“We need to be very, very vigilant, and really try everything we can to keep those bear wild,” he said.
The BC Conservation Officer Service requests urban bear sightings be reported to 1-877-952-7277 (RAPP).
The North Shore Black Bear Society encourages people with sightings to reach them at 604-317-4911.