Hungry bear being a nuisance in Port Renfrew

Freezers and fridges containing food attracting bears to homes

  • Nov. 9, 2011 6:00 p.m.

A smarter-than-your-average-bear has been a problem for dwellers of the Botanical RV resort in Port Renfrew over the past couple of weeks.

The animal forcefully found its way inside four storage sheds and also got into a couple of refrigerators, which is what resident Bertha Gravelle thinks attracted it to the area in the first place.

“A gentleman had a fridge on his porch, which is a no-no, and he tossed it off the deck,” said Gravelle, adding the man has had it happen to him before.

One of the sheds was storing apples that the bear helped itself to after breaking in.

“He literally ripped the boards right off the side, there was a two-foot square hole in it.”

After the owner repaired the damage, the bear went for a repeat performance and scored itself some Thai noodles. The other sheds were either empty or contained non-food items like camping equipment.

This wasn’t Gravelle’s first bear encounter — last year one tried to pry open one of the windows on her travel trailer when she wasn’t home. She suspects the recent culprit is the cub of the mother who used to wander through the area. There have also been bear sightings in the past on the nearby beach where there are two fish cleaning stations.

Conservation Officer Rick DeKelver made his way to the site after hearing about the incident to set a trap for the hungry visitor. Once caught, its fate is still to be determined.

“We’ll assess health, look at the totality of the circumstances, all the behaviour that’s been displayed up till now,” said DeKelver. The options are either relocation, or destruction if its behaviour is beyond reversible.

At the time of the interview, a baited five-foot tall culvert trap with cages welded to both sides had already been set up right inside the resort for a few days with no results. He said some bears are more intelligent than others, perhaps having a previous encounter with traps or witnessing a family member getting caught, and may continue their aggressive behaviour while avoiding capture.

“(We’ll leave it up) maybe a week or a little more. It’s dependent if people are seeing it.”

Bears are habitual creatures and may have a certain route they travel. While on that route, they may not be drawn to the bait, he said.

DeKelver added having freezers and fridges containing food out in the open is “not acceptable practice in what we consider bear country.” While it’s hard to make something completely bear proof, people should ensure at least basic precautions are taken.

Incidents have been lower lately due to the natural food source of fish in the streams returning to spawn. Sightings will likely continue into December until most bears hibernate for about three months.

“Some don’t hibernate if they are familiar with non-natural attractants like garbage. Some become aware they can access a food source year round.”

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