The B.C. Conservation Officer Service was forced to destroy a bear that entered an Alta Vista home last week, raided the kitchen, and then returned later to try again.
According to Sergeant Chris Doyle, the large male gained entry through an open front door on Tuesday, June 21 and proceeded to the kitchen area. The owners were home and upstairs at the time.
The bear left after eating, but returned shortly afterward to circle the house and find another way in.
"The concern is that once they get into a house and get that kind of food, the incident will repeat itself," said Doyle.
On Wednesday, the conservation officer located and destroyed the bear as it returned to the area.
The dead bear was not tagged, which meant that it hadn't been caught or relocated in the past. It was also a large bear in the neighbourhood of 130 kg or 300 pounds.
This was the first time that a conservation officer has had to destroy an animal this year, although it was far from the first bear death. One bear was killed on the highway last week just north of Squamish, and a sow and a cub were killed on the highway near Lions Bay in early June. On Sunday, June 26 a yearling cub was killed on Highway 99 near Alta Vista.
As for break-ins, another home had been broken into in Alta Visa several weeks before, but it's not known if it was the same bear as the one that was destroyed. Several weeks ago it happened in another neighbourhood. In that case a bear poked its head into the open doorway of a home and quickly left. Most recently, on June 25 a bear came into a house on Panorama Ridge in Brio after a door had been left open. The bear moved back and forth between the kitchen and patio, and when the police attended they were able to scare it out of the house using non-lethal bear bangers. They then used two additional bangers to scare the bear back into the woods.
Bears aren't the only animals drawing the conservation office's attention these days. On Thursday afternoon, June 23, a cougar was reported in the Bear Ridge housing complex in Spring Creek after a dog chased it from the playground area. The police received a call at 3:40 p.m. from residents, but the cougar was gone when the police attended, and kids and dogs were playing in the neighbourhood. Another report, possibly regarding the same animal, came in from Bayshores a little later that day.
Cougars have also been spotted this year at a local golf course and in Lost Lake Park, but there have been no incidents.
As for the cougar that pounced on a mountain biker in the Crumpit Woods area of Squamish two weeks ago, knocking him from his bike, the conservation office has received word of additional sightings in the nearby Valleycliffe area and are continuing to monitor the area.
There haven't been any other reports of aggressive activity, although the presence of cougars is an especial concern to families with young children. Parents should not leave children unattended or let them get too far away, and if a cougar is spotted then an adult should pick up the child.
The B.C. Ministry of the Environment has published guides for encounters with bears and cougars online at www.env.gov.bc.ca, under the Wildlife/Human Interaction link.