British Columbia

Grizzly bears' arrival prompts public warning in Alert Bay

Conservations officers are trying to trap two male grizzly bears on tiny Cormorant Island, near Port McNeill after sightings this weekend near beaches, trails and residential areas.

Residents told to stay away from beaches and trails, keep children and pets indoors

The two grizzly bears were spotted near residences in the Alert Bay area. (Esther and Tamara Alfred)

The Village of Alert Bay is trying to evict some unwelcome visitors: a pair of adult grizzly bears that appeared over the weekend on Cormorant Island, near Port McNeill.

The village has issued public warnings to residents to stay away from beaches and trails and keep pets inside. Schoolchildren will stay inside for lunch and recess. The local dump is closed to the public.

Justin Beadle, chief administrative officer of the Town of Alert Bay, says the grizzlies were first spotted on the island Friday evening.

2 young male grizzlies a concern

"A fellow on the southeast side of the island saw them walk up to his house from the beach," Beadle said. "They appeared dry, so it didn't look like they had just come out of the water."

Cormorant Island is about 4.5 square kilometres with a population of about 1,000.

"Once you throw two young male grizzlies into the mix, that's far too high a concentration of grizzlies to people," Beadle said

B.C. conservation officers set two live traps at the Alert Bay Campground to try to catch the bears, so they can be relocated off the island.

"Ideally, they would just decide to leave the island on their own in the direction of the mainland," Beadle said.

In British Columbia, grizzly bears are reported over four-fifths of the province but never colonized Vancouver Island or Haida Gwaii, according to a B.C. government report from 2002.

Beadle said grizzlies have not been seen on Cormorant Island in residents' living memory.