Trap set for bear seen searching for food on busy B.C. beach
July 12 update: White Pine Beach has reopened, but restrictions are in place as the bear may still be around. Barbecuing is prohibited, food cannot be left unattended and all garbage must be placed in the bearproof bins on site.
A popular Metro Vancouver beach was closed Monday as conservation officers searched for signs of a bear seen snooping through beachgoers' belongings last week.
Video posted on Facebook Thursday showed the black bear pushing its snout into bags of food and picnic baskets at White Pine Beach in Port Moody, B.C.
The stretch of sand on Sasamat Lake in Belcarra Regional Park is a popular destination on hot days, and officials called the bear's presence concerning.
"We're doing everything we can to prevent a conflict situation from occurring," said Eric Tyukodi with the B.C. Conservation Officer Service.
The curious and likely hungry bear hasn't attacked anyone, but based on accounts from those who visit the beach and hike in the area, it appears to be comfortable around humans.
"All wild animals have the potential to be dangerous, especially the very large ones like black bears," Tyukodi said.
So the typically busy swimming spot sat empty on Monday as members of the COS tried to track it down. Park patrol blocked the road and turned around anyone who tried to reach the beach area.
Extra warning signs were also installed throughout the park. A bear trap has been set, and the beach will remain closed until it's removed from the area.
Hikers who were in the area during the beach closure told CTV News they understood the decision, and that they felt it was the safest thing to do.
Heidi Griffey said she's had a close encounter with a bear once before.
"It wasn't aggressive, it just noticed me. I noticed it, I walked away and made some loud noises," she said.
She advised those visiting bear-prone areas to put their food away, and "don't be taking selfies with the bear."
Amy Hallman, who was also hiking at the time, offered similar advice.
"People have to know to lock their food up, pack it in, bring in whatever you take out," she said.
With a report from CTV Vancouver's Scott Hurst