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Bear Update

Loss of dominant adult male



Whistler Black Bear Project

A large adult male black bear was struck and injured by a car on Highway 99 near Nesters at approximately 8 p.m. Sunday, June 6. RCMP responded and euthanized the bear, which lay immobile at the edge of the highway.

Conservation Officer Chris Doyle informed me Sunday night around 9 p.m. and questioned the identity of the bear. I inspected the bear at 8 a.m. on Monday, June 7 and found head, chest, and body characteristics to be similar to those of SLIM, a dominant (alpha) Whistler resident adult male black bear.

Chris Doyle released the bear (after weighing at Squamish landfill) to me for examination, gross necropsy, and preservation of hide, paws, skull, and skeletal system for scientific research and educational purposes. The bear’s body will be used to the fullest extent in support for proactive bear education. Gross examination was done by myself and Kristi Bane-Allen, DVM.

The bear weighed approximately 375 lbs. and was 187 cm from nose to tail. His head was triangular and massive, measuring 20 cm from ear to ear. Fore-paw width was 12 cm and hind-paw length 16 cm. Canine teeth were not chipped, as may be evident in garbage-feeding bears, but molar teeth were evenly worn.

The body’s exterior was in excellent condition. Only one visible scar revealed by a small, oval-shaped (7x7-cm) patch of new hair growth along his right side. The bear was skinned out, revealing a heavily muscled, massive body. There was no garbage found in the stomach. Approximately 15-20 litres of blood were contained in the abdomen, presumably from the lacerated liver and ruptured spleen. The left leg (hind) had a fractured femur. Considerable bruising was also noted within muscles of both hind legs.

RCMP acted humanely by destroying the bear as its wounds were consistent with that of massive trauma associated with being struck by a vehicle.

Hair samples were taken from the chest and belly of the bear and will be submitted to Wildlife Genetics International Ltd. in Nelson to confirm a possible identity-match with SLIM.

Fifty-nine bears in Whistler have been genetically tagged to continually track population trend, movements, and relatedness. A premolar tooth will be extracted to determine age.

It is an extreme loss that this magnificent animal is no longer present in the Whistler bear population. He was of obvious prime stature and will be missed.

Please use caution and slow down when bears are on any roadways. June and July is the breeding period for bears and sometimes males (and other bears) may be following a different set of instincts. Don’t expect them to stop, look, and listen. Any wildlife can suddenly bolt across roads. Bears can be found grazing Whistler’s roadsides during spring for the lush, easily digestible green-up.

I will provide confirmation of the bear’s identity when DNA is confirmed from the analysis.

Questions, information, or to report bear families (and other bears) during the May-June bear count please call 604-902-1660 or e-mail Thanks for the input and to Pique Newsmagazine for sponsorship of Bear Update columns.