Laura Rodgers, Mission City Record
A bear cub has slept the past 10 nights in James Klassen’s pear tree, just 20 feet from his front door in Hatzic. He wants to send it back to the wild, but conservation officers say they aren’t able to help.
“If we do come, we would shoot it and kill it,” he said a conservation officer told him.
Carlene La Hay, who lives in Dewdney, heard the same when she called about the cub frequenting her yard.
“[It’s] been in our yard [for] over 10 days…I was given the exact same info from the conservation officer I spoke with,” said La Hay.
Klassen told The Record the small black bear cub hasn’t caused him any harm, so he told the officer not to come. Now he isn’t sure what to do.
“It’s a little baby black bear, probably born in the spring. It can’t be more than 60 pounds,” he said “And there’s no mother around … he’s scared. As soon as you get close, he just runs away.”
The cub began scavenging the last few over-ripe pears from the yard’s 18-tree grove two Sundays ago.
La Hay’s cub is about the same size — she compares it to a large racoon, and her cat’s been chasing after it. She said it’s been seeking out acorns from her yard’s oak trees.
“He just sat there in the tree, eating his pears in front of us,” said Klassen said. “I thought he was going to leave when the food ran out.”
Now, he sees the cub confusedly wandering through the two cleared acres in his yard. Once, he caught the bear trying to eat its own waste. “I think he’s starving now,” said Klassen.
The cub in Klassen’s pear tree
A family with small children lives on the other side of Farms Road, so he doesn’t want the cub to take up permanent residence there. Last Saturday, he asked a conservation officer what they could do.
He said he was told they don’t relocate bears, because of worries about them returning to populated areas.
Steve Jacobi, a conservation officer who supervises the Fraser Valley area, said moving a bear this late in the year would likely be a death sentence. When dropped off in an unfamiliar area, bears face stiff competition for feeding territory. They need to save up fat for winter hibernation, but they often try to make the long journey back where they came from instead.
Klassen’s cub, wandering his yard
Black bears are common around Mission, and the Conservation Officer Service wouldn’t consider a small cub in a yard to be a threat, Jacobi said. If Klassen doesn’t want the bear to return, he could try making a loud commotion in the yard, putting an electric fence around the tree or chopping the tree down, the officer added.
Klassen hopes there is some way to move the cub out of his yard but keep it alive.
“I don’t want (them) to kill it…I don’t know what do to with this little guy,” he said.
According to Bear Awareness safety information from the District of Mission, seven bears were shot in Mission in 2014.
Jacobi reminds locals not to approach or feed bears, and not to leave out food in the open or in unsecured containers. If a black bear gets too close, you should try to appear as large as possible, make loud noise and back away slowly.
For more information, call WildSafe BC at 604-702-5005.