The Whistler RCMP and a Conservation Officer spent four hours on Saturday morning trying to convince a treed bear at the corner of Village Gate and Blackcomb Way to make a run for it, using bear bangers and other deterrents to convince the tagged bear to leave.
But with a huge crowd looking on and taking photographs, the bear kept returning to the tree and at last the RCMP and Conservation Officer decided there were no options remaining but to tranquilize the bear. The tagged bear dropped about 10 feet to the ground after being hit by the dart, but was not injured.
Described as a mid-size bear, it took four people to carry the adult male to the Conservation Officer's truck, who took the bear to the Callaghan area south of Whistler and observed it until it woke up.
Sergeant Shawn LeMay of the Whistler RCMP wasn't on duty Saturday, but got into uniform when he was made aware of the situation and was prepared to block traffic on Blackcomb Way to keep the bear safe until it could reach the nearest forest.
The RCMP got the call just after 9 a.m.
It was the second week that crowds complicated a situation with a bear. The previous Friday the RCMP had to shoot a bear just south of Function Junction after a dog got loose from a truck parked on the side of the highway and was attacked by the bear. The bear did not respond to warning shots, but continued to attack the dog with the owner nearby.
The dog's owner was approaching the bear to take photographs, as were other onlookers who had parked on both sides of the road. The owner of the dog is facing charges for not having his dog on a leash, and other charges are being considered.
According to Sergeant Chris Doyle of the Conservation Office, the bears are concentrated at village level because of the low snowpack and weather. Many are grazing on grass and other foliage at lower elevations, and people are not giving them space.
"The Village is crowded with pedestrians," he said. "We ask that people not approach bears, obviously for the safety of the bear and themselves. It's not a good mix when you have a bear in the Village with a lot of people around."
Sgt. LeMay thanked the Pan Pacific for blocking off an outdoor area that was above where the bear was located after reports that hotel guests were "egging on the bear."
Other bear watchers were even worse.
"One of our senior investigators was concerned that when he arrived at the scene people were throwing carrots and snacks on the ground to lure the bear down," said Sgt. LeMay.
That was only one of many bear calls received over the weekend. That afternoon the RCMP received a report that a bear was hit by a car near the new Rainbow subdivision at roughly 3 p.m. and is believed to have been killed.
On Sunday the RCMP responded to two calls for the same bear cub. The first report was at the corner of Lorimer and Day Lot 5, and the RCMP controlled traffic around the area until the bear could be coached out of the area. Later that day the RCMP dealt with the same bear in the same area.
That afternoon the RCMP dealt with a larger bear near the Wizard Chair in the Upper Village, which they coached back up the mountain.
-With files from Jesse Ferreras
Impaired reports continue
Over the past week the RCMP charged three drivers with impaired driving and driving over 0.08 per cent blood alcohol content, plus handed down another seven 24 hour suspensions.
The RCMP has stopped and charged dozens of drivers with impaired driving over the past year and handed down more suspensions. This fall the Province is enacting new drinking and driving legislation that would impose heavier fines and penalties for impaired drivers, while lowering the threshold from 0.08 to 0.05 per cent.