A young black bear participated in Thanksgiving festivities on Monday, in his own way.
At around lunchtime, he ambled down to Maclure Rd. and Immel St. in Abbotsford, settled in a townhouse complex, and started munching on birdfeed in hanging feeders.
Local residents complained to police. When cops arrived, several officers tried to chase the bear back to the greenbelt directly north, but the non-aggressive bear had no interest in leaving.
Instead, he climbed a cedar tree, where he remained until conservation officer Don Stahl arrived with his tranquilizer gun.
“It was about two or three storeys up a very heavily branched cedar tree, and the first dart hit a branch right in front of the bear and just fell back to the ground,” said Stahl.
Stahl fired a few bear bangers so the bear would reposition himself to give Stahl a better shot. The CO saw the bear’s bottom, and the second shot landed on target.
“Three minutes later, he fell asleep and fell to the ground,” said Stahl. “Thanks to the Abbotsford police. They did a really good job containing it and getting it up the tree.”
The bear was unharmed, hanging on to the tree as he slid down.
Stahl loaded the 100-pound teenage black bear into the back of his patrol pick up truck and drove him to the north end of Sumas Mountain Forest Service Road.
“I stayed with him until he woke up, and he wandered off. He was good,” said Stahl.
There are 30-40 bears that reside on the popular recreational mountain, according to Stahl. This bear was likely raised there.
This is the first bear relocation in Abbotsford this year. In 2012, two Abbotsford bears were moved to Harrison Lake. Although that’s the usual destination, none of the steel bear traps were available on Monday. That left Stahl with only the duration of the tranquilizer, 30-60 minutes, to get the bear away from the city.
Stahl is optimistic that the bear will keep away from people.
“Hopefully he’ll walk down the river there, and go fishing for salmon down there, and not come back to the town,” he said.
As of Aug. 31, COs had received 148 calls about bears in Abbotsford this year, with East Abbotsford being particularly prone to sightings. The District of Mission is another high risk zone. The area receives three times more bear calls than Abbotsford.
Bears will remain present until December, when they go into hibernation.
Until then, Stahl wants to remind residents to follow four simple rules:
1. Take birdfeeders down until Dec. 15. By then, bear calls to conservation officers drop off as most bears are hibernating.
2. Always keep garbage cans, including empty ones, inside a garage or shed.
3. Do not leave out garbage cans the night before collection. Bring them to the curb in the morning.
4. Pick all fallen fruit, such as apples, and shake the trees to get as much fruit off as possible.
Bear sightings can be reported to the conservation officer service at 1-877-952-7277. The line is monitored at all hours.
For other tips, see www.bearaware.bc.ca/