A yearling bear was destroyed by conservation officers Sunday (Sept. 29) after entering a Whistler Cay home for the second time in several months.
The male bear entered the home undetected just after 4 p.m. while a female resident was loading her vehicle. Once inside, the woman closed the door before discovering the bear. He knocked her over as he tried unsuccessfully to exit the front door. The woman then ran into a nearby bedroom, closing the door behind her. With no way to exit the home, the bear made its way up the stairs, encountering a male resident of the house, who yelled and threw something at the animal.
“The bear made its way back towards the door where it originally got in,” said local conservation officer Tim Schumacher. “(The male occupant) made his way down the stairs, and thought he could chase the bear outside but realized the door was closed. The bear started to rip away at the bottom of the door and eventually broke the glass beside the entrance and was able to escape that way.”
Schumacher and RCMP officers responded to the incident shortly after, and followed the bear to a neighbour’s yard where it was trapped in a tree and ultimately destroyed. Schumacher indicated the bear had entered the Whistler Cay residence earlier this summer through an unlocked door, and was relocated at that time.
“It’s a prime example of a bear remembering where it got food from the last time,” he said. “This time, it just got caught inside.”
If occupants happen to encounter a bear in their home, Schumacher recommended providing a clear escape path for the bear to exit.
The yearling was also relocated last summer in a group with his mother and siblings, after they accessed an unoccupied residence.
With bears now entering an increased period of feeding ahead of winter hibernation, Schumacher asked the public to be on the lookout for potential conflicts, and urged occupants to close all ground-level windows, and to deadbolt or replace lever-style door handles.
Sunday marked the second time a bear was destroyed by conservation officers this year, compared to six last year, and 17 in 2011. Schumacher pointed to a strong berry crop in the alpine this year as one possible reason bear conflicts have been down. He said there was a period of about six weeks at the end of summer where the local conservation office didn’t receive a single bear report, which he called “extremely unusual for any bear year in Whistler.”
As the snow accumulates at higher elevations, however, Schumacher said the public could expect more bears in residential areas looking for potential food sources.
“The bears are moving down lower where the food sources are still readily available, and that’s when they come in conflict with people,” he said. “We want to be super diligent at this time of year.”
The public is asked to call in any wildlife encounter to the Conservation Officer Service’s reporting line at 877-952-7277 or dial #7277 on a mobile phone.