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Bear rides aerial lift out of village tree

Mother, three cubs relocated after taking over home



Whistler pedestrians got a rare, up-close look at young male adult bear on Saturday (Nov. 17) in Village Square.

It had managed to climb nearly to the top of a village tree.

Conservation Officer (CO) Simon Gravel said he worked with the RCMP to make sure the treed bruin had an escape corridor if it decided to climb down, but the bear didn't appear to want to leave its leafy perch. Too high up to tranquilize Gravel looked around for a Plan B and spied some municipal workers nearby with an elevator lift.

"We had the muni employees on site installing some Christmas lights with an elevator," said Gravel.

He said he put on a fall protection harness and with help from the municipal employees used the lift to position himself close to the bear.

"I drugged the bear and was just waiting for him to show some signs that he was falling asleep. When he was just sleepy enough not to be a safety concern for me we approached with the basket and asked him to jump in," said Gravel.

According to the CO, the bear sensed that it was receiving help and worked with Gravel and the municipal employee to get loaded into the basket. The trio was lowered to the ground and another round of drugs administered to induce a deeper sleep.

"People were able to approach and give him a quick look," said Gravel.

The unconscious bear was on display for about 15 to 20 minutes, giving Gravel time to educate the gathered crowd about bears before it was taken to the relocation point.

Conservation Officer Tim Schumacher said this particular bear has been relocated six times in the past two years. It has never been aggressive but it has spent too much time in high traffic areas. The age of the bear was estimated at between three and five years.

Schumacher dealt with three problem bears the next day — A mama and three cubs reportedly broke into a home repeatedly.

According to Schumacher, the occupants of the home were away for five weeks and they returned to find their home ransacked. A back door was open and scat on the floor of the home clearly indicated what had happened.

"They were able to use the place to get all the food," Schumacher said. "Cupboard doors were open. The bears had accessed all the food in the home."

Schumacher said the family called for help when the sow and her cubs tried to enter the home through the back door Sunday evening. The bears were in a tree by the time Schumacher arrived. He tranquilized them then relocated the trio.

"It's been reported to us three other times where the sow and three cubs had entered a building to get food," said Schumacher.

"One other kitchen this summer was completely trashed and there was a trailer door left open recently where there was food left inside. The sow and three cubs were able to enter and access food in that trailer."

He added that this bear and her cubs have been relocated at least once previously. Like the bear captured in the village the family was taken to good bear habitat where it is hoped they will find a den for the winter.

The COs asked that bear concerns or other wildlife incidents be reported to the RAPP (Report All Poachers and Polluters) line at 1-877-952-7277.