Simar Kharbanda had never seen anything like it.
The Chilliwack resident was driving along Chaplain Road near Seabird Island when he spotted something in the water – a sow black bear and her two cubs, swimming to land.
“I tried to take pictures, but they disappeared in the bushes,” Kharbanda said. He continued driving, and on his way back, he spotted the mama bear a second time, crossing the road and running into a nearby field, alone.
“She ran about 50 metres and stopped and stood on her legs to look for her cubs,” he said. “Seconds later, I saw both cubs cross the road and follow the mom.”
At that point, Kharbanda climbed to his sunroof and started recording video.
“This is the first time I’ve encountered something like this,” Kharbanda said. “I am from India and came to Canada six years ago. I always heard stories about bears but never encountered one so close. It was so cool. I had goosebumps!”
From July 1 to July 29, according to the Wildlife Alert Reporting Program (WARP), there were five wildlife reports this month – three black bears, a grizzly bear and a bobcat. A black bear encounter on July 19 was listed as aggressive. One black bear call was classified as “dead wildlife” while the lone bobcat encounter was “injured/distressed.”
Black bears are much more common in the Agassiz-Harrison area than grizzly bears (though grizzly spotting isn’t unheard of). It’s estimated the population across the province numbers between 120,000 and 150,000 black bears. They typically account for between 14,000 and 25,000 wildlife calls per year and they are most active April through November.
Black bears are omnivorous and eat roughly 80 per cent vegetation, according to WildSafeBC. They may gravitate toward human habitats if food is readily available. Taking preventative measures such as securing garbage, keeping bird seed in a spot that is difficult for them to reach and keeping grills clean and free of drippings would help prevent human-wildlife conflicts.
WildSafe in the Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD) received approximately 1,100 wildlife calls from January to November. Of these calls, more than 830 were related to black bears.
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