British Columbia

B.C. camper wakes up to find bear sniffing him inside tent

The man was able to chase the black bear away from his campsite at Peace Island Park on Sunday but the animal came back later the same night. Conservation officers euthanized the bear within 24 hours.

'That's about a close of a call as you can have,' conservation officer says

A black bear like this one was euthanized after it broke into a camper's tent north of Dawson Creek, B.C., over the weekend. (Yukon government)

A man camping in northern B.C. woke up to find a black bear sniffing him in the middle of Sunday night, after it tore through his tent's screened window.

The man was able to chase the black bear away from his campsite at Peace Island Park, but it had to be chased off a second time hours later.

It's the kind of call conservation officers dread, said Sgt. Shawn Brinsky.

"You don't ever want to hear those stories. That's about a close of a call as you can have," Brinsky said.

The bear was euthanized the next day. The conservation service said it was too "garbage conditioned" to be released.

The bear broke through the tent's mesh window, similar to this one. (Shutterstock)

Brinsky said the bear woke the man up around 1 a.m. PT.

"The bear had ripped through the screen and was halfway into the tent," the officer said.

"He, of course, then yelled and scared the bear off."

The animal came back around 4 a.m. PT. Again, it was chased away.

Later that morning, conservation officers set snares around the campsite, which is about 20 kilometres southeast of Fort St. John. The bear was trapped and euthanized around dusk.

Brinsky said officers used paw prints to be sure they had the right animal.

The B.C. Conservation Service said bears are often roaming around in the province, but it's rare for one to break into a confined space like a tent. (Simon Charland-Faucher/CBC)

He said the bear was killed because it was dangerously comfortable with humans.

"Up here, it's not uncommon to see bears," the officer said.

"What's uncommon is for a bear to be willing to go into a confined space. That's a bear that's become very bold.

"There's zero doubt in my mind: that's a garbage-conditioned bear."

Officers looking for food source

Brinsky said there wasn't any food in the man's tent that night. Investigators will be looking through the area to see what might have attracted the animal.

"If we can find the sources of those problems, like garbage or food or stuff that's going around in that area ... we want to deal with that," he said.

"For the bear's sake and the human's sake, we don't want that to happen again."

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Previous attacks in B.C.

In 2015, a 27-year-old man died after a black bear dragged him from his campsite. Daniel Ward Folland O'Connor, known as Ward, had been camping with his fiancée near Mackenzie.

In 2009, a grizzly bear attacked two Nelson, B.C., men as they slept in their tent near Canal Flats. Both men were left with minor injuries.

People who see a bear getting into garbage are asked to report the animal to B.C.'s RAPP line.

With files from Chad Pawson.