West Vancouver police and bear advocates are warning the public after a bear peeled open a luxury auto in the British Properties and tore apart the interior.
The bear had apparently been drawn to the Lexus parked on the 700 block of Westcot Place in the British Properties because of a stash of sandwiches left in the car overnight on Saturday, according to police. The food was destined for a potluck gathering on Sunday but the bear made short work of the door and availed itself of the picnic inside.
“This person had come out thinking initially that they had been broken into but as they looked closer, it was clear it was a bear that had gone into it and really made a mess of it – extensive damage, door panels pulled, quite a bit of the upholstery ripped and pulled apart,” said Const. Jeff Palmer, West Vancouver police spokesman.
Damage from the bear’s late-night appetite is estimated at $10,000.
Bears have been known to rip open car doors even for the faintest of smells. Another vehicle in the same area was broken into last summer for some leftover sushi and in previous years, cookies or spilled coffee have been bait. The car’s owner had lived in the area for some time but had never had a run-in with a bear before, Palmer said.
“It was something they just didn’t really think of. They haven’t had trouble with bears or wildlife coming onto the property,” he said. “In hindsight, they definitely will be thinking of a different plan for next time.”
So far, 2016 has seen relatively few bear conflicts, according to the North Shore Black Bear Network.
“(Things) have been really quiet – a lot fewer sightings than other years,” said Christine Miller, education co-ordinator for the network. “More people are asking about cougars than black bears.”
The low call volume could be due to a good crop of berries keeping the bears fed in the backcountry, a natural low phase in the bears’ cyclical population or improved habits among North Shore residents when it comes to keeping their yards (and cars) free of bear attractants, Miller said. And sometimes, residents may hesitate to report bears to the Conservation Officer Service if they worry the bear will be shot as a result.
In any case, Miller said she will ramp up education efforts in the area this week.
“We’ll make sure there are signs .We’ll probably go out door to door… and talk to people and check out any attractants I see around,” she said. “Try to help people be a part of the solution to this.”
“I feel badly for the person who owned the car but I don’t see it as a bear that’s dangerous to people,” she said, noting that bears are opportunistic feeders.
Bear conflicts that may present a risk to human life can be reported to conservation officers at 1-877-952-7277. The Black Bear Network can be reached at 604-990-BEAR(2327).