Black bear approaches, taps runner on popular Coquitlam trail
Conservation officers will try to trap the bear on the Coquitlam Crunch
Conservation officers say they will try to trap a black bear that was filmed on Saturday tapping a runner with its paw on a popular trail in Coquitlam, B.C.
The encounter, which happened just after 11 a.m. on Saturday, was filmed by Sam Abdullah, who climbs the popular Coquitlam Crunch up to four times a week. The trail is a steep 2.2-kilometre climb located in a green corridor of the city.
Abdullah said he was nearing the top on Saturday when a woman descending in front of him froze as a black bear emerged from the bushes.
He began filming the encounter on his cellphone, and the video shows the bear getting closer to the woman and eventually extending a paw to her leg before jumping back.
"I think she was in shock and she just froze there, you know," said Abdullah, who carries bear spray when he climbs the trail.
WATCH | Bear taps at woman on Coquitlam Crunch trail:
Eventually the woman was able to get past the bear, and she can be seen running past Abdullah and looking at the camera.
"If you see the video, we are doing the opposite [of what] we are supposed to do," he said in an interview. "We are coming closer to the bear.
"I was trying to distract the bear by yelling because we are not running away, because there was a girl there and we waited there until we knew that's she's safe."
Abdullah was not able to catch up with the woman to ask her if she was OK and share his video with her.
"She kept running all the way down," he said.
Abdullah said he is not afraid to go back to the trail, knowing the bear may be in the area. He reported the incident to the B.C. Conservation Officer Service, but hopes no harm will come to the animal.
Bear 'had little or no fear'
Conservation officer Murray Smith said officers will be sent to the site on Sunday to try to trap the bear.
Smith said it's possible that the bear will be euthanized if it's caught, but the service wants to learn more about the circumstances of what happened first.
In the past month, he said, there have been 20 reports to the service about a bear in the area getting into garbage.
Smith has watched the video and said it's worrying to see the bear touch the runner.
"It appears the bear had little or no fear of the runner," he said. "It wasn't like the bear was startled by the runner and reached out and contacted them. In this case, the runner stopped, and the bear approached the runner and then the bear hit the person's leg, so it's very concerning."
<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BCCOS?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#BCCOS</a> has closed the upper portion of the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Coquitlam?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Coquitlam</a> Crunch trail after a runner was swatted on the leg by a black bear. The public is urged to be vigilant, take safety precautions and asked to report any bear sightings in the area to the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RAPP?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#RAPP</a> line. For tips, visit <a href="https://twitter.com/wildsafebc?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@wildsafebc</a> <a href="https://t.co/4PHPqnVdX1">pic.twitter.com/4PHPqnVdX1</a>—@_BCCOS
Smith said he wants the woman in the video and anyone with information about the encounter to contact the B.C. Conservation Officer Service through its Report All Poachers and Polluters line so that the service can learn more about the encounter.
There are regular sightings of bears in and around the Coquitlam Crunch, he said, but this type of encounter with a bear is rare. His concern is that if the bear is losing its fear of humans, it could become more of a danger.
"And so that's why we think this bear's not a good bear to have in a community," he said.
Officer advises to back away slowly
Smith said he doesn't blame the woman for her reaction to the situation, but he advises anyone who encounters a bear to back away slowly, make yourself big by putting your arms over your head and talk to the animal to tell it calmly that you are a human.
"Once you back away and get out of the situation, then you can hurry away a little quicker," he said.
Smith said he doesn't want people to be afraid of being in areas where there are bears, but he recommends that people have bear spray and use things like bells to make noise.
Other resources for being safe around wildlife can be found on the online resource WildSafeBC.
- A previous version of this story referred to the bear's action as a "swipe." This has been changed to "tap."Aug 30, 2020 5:48 PM PT