Though a rare sight for many years, for the second time this month a grizzly bear was seen wandering through a Squamish neighbourhood. This time, an older, but highly motivated bear was seen on Sunday, in Brackendale.
It too was captured and relocated.
Conservation officer Sgt. Simon Gravel told The Chief the most recent bear captured in the Eagle Run area of Brackendale on Sept. 27 was around 30 years old and approximately 700 pounds.
It was spotted on Sept. 24 closer to downtown Squamish, and was being tracked by the conservation service.
Several residents reported sightings over the week before it was captured for public safety reasons.
Previously, on Sept. 10, the Conservation Officer Service captured and relocated a young grizzly in the area of the former Shady Tree Pub.
Sometimes residents mistake large black bears for grizzlies, but this time, it was pretty obvious.
"It was a very, very large bear with a very pronounced hump and a very big face and extremely large claws so anyone who saw the bear in the neighbourhood, they were pretty adamant that it was a grizzly bear," he said.
Greg McAuley lives in the Brackendale neighbourhood and saw the bear at his neighbour’s tree when he woke up Sunday, but then it was gone.
After dinner time though, he was leaving the house and saw the bear again in his neighbour’s yard. And then it was walking back and forth across the street.
That is when things got interesting.
“I think the bear could smell [the neighbours] making dinner because… I could hear it sniffing at his door and sniffing so loud I could hear it from 15 metres away, and then it got aggressive,” he said. “It started growling… and huffing and then it slammed its body, its paws, against the door and part of the side window.”
The bear didn’t break through but it made a “huge bang,” McAuley, recalled. He jumped in a vehicle and started beeping the horn, which distracted the bear.
It wandered across the road and went to another neighbour’s yard. Neighbours were warning each other of its approach.
Next, the bear moved from yard to yard toward fruit trees. It pulled one neighbour’s fence down in the process.
Then conservation officers and the RCMP showed up.
“I am an avalanche specialist for a living and a mountain person my whole life, so I have had tons of grizzly bear encounters, but I was surprised to see him in a populated area,” McAuley, said.
This bear is at the end of his life, but still has a few good years left, Gravel said, adding that a wildlife biologist checked the bear on Monday morning and he is in "good condition."
"Grizzlies are in recovery here and individuals are very important for the species. So, this big alpha male still has a few good years to contribute to the grizzly population so it was decided the best thing was to release him, obviously away from town."
This grizzly was formerly in Paradise Valley, Gravel said. There are multiple possible factors as to why these bears are coming to town this year.
"One thing for sure is that we do have a growing grizzly bear population. This is a good thing, but it does imply that grizzlies will visit Squamish," Gravel said.
People have to be even more bear aware, given the grizzlies.
"Make sure when grizzlies are passing by that they don't find anything interesting here. That puts more importance on the control of attractants," he said.
For this grizzly to be hanging around, it must have found a source of food.
"We don't want that," Gravel stressed. "So fruit trees need to be picked and if you do have livestock or chickens, it is imperative that people get electric fencing."