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Jeanie's story



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People and businesses leave garbage outside, they grow plants bears love to eat and they put bird feeders outside, forgetting that bears are excellent climbers. Some people leave groceries in cars, forgetting that bears are strong enough to push in windows and pry open doors. A local has even been charged with hand feeding bears as if they were his pets.

Allen isn't sure when Jeanie realized that human food and humans themselves posed little risk.

He believes, in fact, that this realization for her was a key strategy in her early success in becoming the dominant female on the mountains.

"She made choices at that younger age to be very tolerant of people and we left the garbage out and she found it, so she is part of the equation, and we are part of the equation and the outcome has not been good," said Allen.

Jeanie's first recorded run-in with human food was in 1998 at Beaver Tails on Whistler Mountain, where she enjoyed delicious grease drippings and buns from the freezers.

In 2000 she made the front page of the papers after climbing a tree with her cub Jake following a food forage at the Blackcomb Daylodge and Merlin's.

That episode brought out the police. When Allen got to the scene he moved in and cleaned up all the food such as old French fries and onion rings, and moved everyone away so she would come down. Then he forced her back up Blackcomb Mountain with the help of the police.

The 2004 season, a drought year for berries, was one of Jeanie's biggest problem years. With her two cubs in tow she came into the village every night for over three weeks trying to find human food. The pattern was set after she found the mother lode of garbage packed with pasta and seafood outside a village eatery one night.

That year Allen, hired by the Get Bear Smart Society to try and keep her out of trouble, would walk her route and bear proof it every night. Then he would follow her and force her out of the village. But even with no food reward she kept coming down until early December.

"She would look but she never got a reward other than licking an empty Starbucks cup," said Allen.

"The cubs were fat and healthy so she did not need to be doing this. It is what she is used to, it is what she discovered she could do."

It is not clear how Jeanie became so habituated. In 1998, in one of Allen's first encounters with Jeanie, she came right up and picked up a book he had lying beside him in her mouth.