A young black bear with a penchant for amusing himself with children’s playground equipment has become North Vancouver’s first bear relocated by conservation officers this season.
The abrupt change of ursine address happened Monday in Bridgman Park next to Lynn Creek.
Conservation officers were called out after receiving several calls from the public about a bear that appeared to be hanging around a children’s playground area. Videos posted to social media showed the bear appearing to bat playfully at swings.
After the bear climbed a tree, conservation officers shot it with a tranquilizer dart, said Sgt. Simon Gravel of the conservation officer service.
The bear was then tagged and driven a short distance away to a location further up the Lynn Creek drainage before being released.
Gravel said relocating bears to more remote locations has not been successful in the past because bears either end up competing for territory with other bears or returning to the original trouble spot. Conservation officers hope that moving bears without a history of problem behaviour just a short distance will result in a better outcome. “We’ll monitor his behaviour,” said Gravel. If the bear shows up in the same area again, however, “our response will be different,” he said. “We’ll have run out of options at that point.”
The decision to tranquilize the bear sparked social media chatter among North Vancouver residents who walk in the area or witnessed the incident.
Ying Yan Zhu, a North Vancouver resident who keeps tabs on local bear activities, said she doesn’t see why the bear couldn’t have just been left alone. She said she worries that bears are often injured when they fall out of trees after being tranquilized.
Gravel said conservation officers won’t tranquilize a bear if they know a fall would seriously injure or kill the animal. In this case, the bear was assessed while it was still tranquilized.
“The bear was perfectly healthy,” he said.
He said the bear’s behaviour in coming back to the playground is “not typical” for bears and raised concerns that the animal was becoming habituated to humans or human food sources.
The bear appeared to have been attracted to the playground by garbage in a park garbage can nearby, said Gravel. He said conservation officers are talking to District of North Vancouver staff about areas where bear-proof garbage containers should be a priority.
District spokeswoman Stephanie Smiley said there is only one garbage can in the park that isn’t bear-proof, which is emptied twice daily. “They don’t typically have issues with bears in Bridgman Park,” she said, adding staff will be reviewing the situation.
Conservation officers aren’t sure whether it was the same bear that prompted Lynnmour Elementary to move its sports day inside on Friday after a bear was spotted on the trails behind the school.
Residents also reported seeing a bear in a playground area of Digger Park the evening before.
Gravel said there have been a number of recent bear sightings in residential areas around the North Shore although the bear in Bridgman Park is the first to be relocated.
Bears attracted to residential areas by garbage that hasn’t been secured remains the “No. 1 reason” for conflicts, he said.