British Columbia

Bear alarm on B.C.'s Bowen Island

Residents of Bowen Island are on the lookout for a black bear that has been marauding near the Snug Cove ferry terminal in an apparent search for food.

'We don't have bears here generally'

Residents of Bowen Island are on the lookout for a black bear that has been marauding in a neighbourhood near the Snug Cove ferry terminal in an apparent search for food.

"I didn't think it would get this close," said Tara Meal, a resident of the island just off West Vancouver's Horseshoe Bay. "We're just minutes from the ferry [terminal]."

A bear broke down two fences trying to get to Meal's backyard chicken coop, but didn't manage to get through to the small building. 

Other chicken owners have not been so lucky, as a bear has eaten a number of fowl on Bowen Island properties in the past several days.

"People are concerned for safety. There's a lot of livestock, a lot of dogs," said Meal. "People are worried because we don't have bears here generally."

It's not known how many bears occupy the 72-square-kilometre island, which has large tracts of forest on its steep hills. Bowen is home to about 3,500 permanent human residents.

School on alert

The sightings and attacks have the island's elementary school on alert, and a warning has been issued to students.

"Remain vigilant," principal Jennifer Pardee said she has told them. "If they're walking, to walk in pairs. We also sent an email to all our parents."

Authorities have set up a live trap, but believe the bear is not likely a danger to humans.

"Bears don't represent a high level of threat to public safety," said conservation officer Simon Gravel. "As long as they don't get habituated to people.… We always tell people to try and scare the bear away and avoid letting it get into garbage."

Gravel said if the bear is caught, it will be relocated to a wild area on the mainland.

A 24-hour alert line has been set up at 877-952-7227 to receive reports of any sightings of the Bowen Island bear.

With files from the CBC's Navjot Heir

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