Grizzly bear photographed roaming near downtown Quesnel, B.C.
Lots of black bears in town this year, but a grizzly is unusual
When Julie Dorge heard rumours of a grizzly bear in her neighbourhood on Saturday morning, just minutes from the centre of the city of Quesnel in central B.C., she didn't believe them at first.
There have been an unusual number of black bears downtown this year, in part because of drought and wildfires. But never, to Dorge's memory, has there been a grizzly bear.
So when a neighbour hurried by with her dogs, warning of a grizzly roughly 10 houses away from Dorge's, the family photographer grabbed her camera and drove there immediately.
"It was a bit of shock at first," said Dorge, owner of Julie Dorge Photography, in an interview Sunday. "It was actually quite unsettling because we're so used to seeing all these black bears everywhere.
"But the grizzly had a very different vibe. It actually felt quite scary to see — it was more skittish ... you could tell it wasn't used to like being in town like the black bears are."
From the safety of her car, she took advantage of ideal photography conditions: smokey wildfire haze and the morning sun back-lighting the animal as it ate crabapples from a tree in a local resident's front yard. She said it looked skinny and nervous.
Other residents of the city snapped photos as well, and Dorge and other residents believe there may have been two grizzlies in two separate locations based on their different looks.
CBC News has reached out to B.C.'s conservation officer service for information about the status of the bears.
Quesnel is a community of 23,000 residents, roughly 100 kilometres south of Prince George, B.C. The bear Dorge photographed was just across a bridge from the downtown core, near the corner of Moffat Avenue and Johnston Avenue — a residential neighbourhood with businesses and a school.
This year's provincewide drought and wildfires have resulted in a marked increase in bears visiting cities and towns across the province's north. But those are mostly black bears, not their much larger grizzly counterparts.
"Being a photographer, it's what I've worked for for a long time, to be able to really quickly capture great photos," she told CBC News. "In the window of the house there was three boys looking out ... watching the bear. Probably one of my favourite photos, which I didn't share because they're not my children.
"I guess being a family photographer, that photo really stuck out."