Young 'pushy' black bear on the North Shore prompts warning
Published Friday, May 22, 2020 8:38PM PDT Last Updated Saturday, May 23, 2020 7:11PM PDT
VANCOUVER -- An adolescent black bear that's been exhibiting "pushy" behaviour on the North Shore mountains has prompted a warning to hikers.
North Shore Rescue said the young bear has started approaching people on trails near Grouse Mountain and Mount Fromme, and that hikers in the area should be prepared for an encounter.
Rescue volunteer Ellie Lamb, who is also a bear behaviour specialist and bear viewing guide, told CTV News that kind of boundary-pushing behaviour is sometimes seen in bears during their "teenager stage."
"He definitely is what I refer to as pushy, meaning he isn't respecting our request for space," she said. "And that's what we don't want to see in these young bears."
The animal has already come close enough to one group of hikers to make them "extremely uncomfortable," she added.
The adolescent will likely outgrow this behaviour after bigger bears push back, Lamb said, but in the meantime she recommended hikers have bear spray at the ready if heading out in those areas.
"It's a very effective tool," she said. "It won't damage them, but it will impact their sense of smell and that's very disturbing to a bear, and they will run away."
She stressed that black bears are relatively easy animals to coexist with, and generally prefer to avoid unnecessary confrontations. In all the years she's been a guide, Lamb said she's never had to use her bear spray.
"That said," she added, "you only ever miss bear spray if you need it."
For hikers encountering the young bear on the trails, Lamb suggested speaking in a calm but firm voice and, if the animal keeps moving closer, taking a step forward to let it know you mean business.
Turning and running is generally not an effective option with bears, she said, and "it's even less so when a bear is actually moving towards you."
"You need to stand your ground, you need to let the bear know you're uncomfortable," Lamb said. "If there's a group of you, one of you should step in front and be very dominant, strong … the bears will respect that."
That advice doesn't apply to bears that are acting defensively, such as a mother with cubs. Lamb stressed that people should read up on bear behaviour or even take a course to ensure they will be prepared to react properly during a confrontation.
While the adolescent is testing its limits on the North Shore trails, she said it's also critical that people keep their dogs on a leash.
"Over 50 per cent of the attacks from bears, there's a dog involved," Lamb said.
North Shore Rescue said anyone who spots the animal should report the sighting to the North Shore Black Bear Society at 604-317-4911.