A bear hit by a car in Maple Ridge on Wednesday has not been found, but is most likely recovering from the encounter.
The bruin darted in front of Susan Kirkconnell’s black BMW while crossing Lougheed Highway near Tamarack Lane around noon.
“All of a sudden there was a black bear. I hadn’t seen it climb over the median,” Kirkconnell said as she surveyed the damage while waiting for a tow truck near the Maple Ridge Hyundai dealership.
“It was a brief encounter with a bear. The fire trucks came and they are on the lookout for him because a bear that’s injured is dangerous.”
The bear damaged the front passenger side of the car and dented a back door, leaving it undrivable.
After it was hit, the bear limped into a green belt near the Albion Flats and headed past homes towards Planet Ice. It was spotted later near a cul-de-sac off Tamarack Lane.
The Maple Ridge fire department and Ridge Meadows RCMP locked down Kanaka Creek elementary temporarily and evacuated nearby Reiboldt Park as a precaution. Firefighters also knocked on doors of houses on Tamarack Lane to warn people about the injured bear.
Conservation officer James Kelly, however, says the bear is OK.
“It is a larger bear. We’ve seen bears walk away from much, much worse accidents,” Kelly added.
“He may have a few bruises, but he should be fine, so there is no intention to remove him or that he may be a public safety concern.”
Bear encounters down
A good berry crop high in the mountains is keeping bears away from urban areas this year.
The abundant supply of food means there has been less conflict between bears and humans since they woke up from a winter’s slumber in spring.
The District of Maple Ridge’s new Bear Aware program and B.C.’s Conservation Officer Service are working hard not to repeat last year’s record – 900 reported bear sightings and 16 bears killed here.
So far this year, only one bear has been euthanized and five relocated in Maple Ridge.
Chris Malfaire, however, is fed-up with a bear who’s been hanging out in his backyard.
Attracted by a cherry tree, the bear (picture to left) has been visiting daily since last week.
“Pretty soon we won’t have a tree,” said Malfaire, who called the conservation service, police and district because he’s concerned for the safety of his grandchildren.
“It’s real adorable, but not if your grandkids are three years old and want to take grandpa’s cell phone and take picture of it. It’s quite neat. I don’t know what to do with it. We tried scaring it with pots and pans, but it just looks at you.”
The conservation service won’t be removing the bear from Malfaire’s backyard, on 110B Avenue, near 240th Street, because the bear is doing what bears do.
“We will not be going in on this one to remove a bear that is just doing it’s natural thing, which is eating some cherries,” said Conservation Officer James Kelly.
“The bear has not shown aggression or is not getting into garbage. Relocation on a bear that is doing it’s natural thing is harsh.”
Kelly recommends people who have bears visiting their properties buy air horns to scare them away.
“It is a very effective tool. You can do it from the safety of your home,” he said.
Malfaire’s Albion neighbourhood, however, is a hot bed for bear activity, with garbage being the most common attractant. From May 30 to June 20, more than 40 bears were reported in an area between Lougheed Highway and 104 Avenue, 240th and 244th Street.
Maple Ridge’s Bear Aware coordinator Rosie Wijenberg has been knocking on doors to educate homeowners about storing their garbage properly.
Homeowners in Albion, however, are taking longer to heed her message. Most don’t have a place to store their garbage and leave bins in alleys, she said.
“We give them many chances,” said Wijenberg. She begins by educating residents at the door, then she does a garbage audit, which is followed by a warning letter and finally a fine, if the homeowner still remains non-compliant.
“Most people pay attention,” she says. “The areas where I meet the most resistance are the areas where people are the most scared of the bears.”
The COS received approximately 37,500 calls regarding human-wildlife conflicts in 2011. Of those calls, approximately 23,800 involved human-bear conflicts. Over the past five years in B.C., an average of 600 black bears have been destroyed each year, while 93 were relocated.
• To report bear sightings or conflicts with wildlife that threaten public safety, call the Conservation Officer Service at: 1-877-952-7277. To learn to be Bear Aware and track sightings, visit www.bearaware.bc.ca.