The fall season is always a tough one for local bears with berry crops disappearing but no snow yet to force hibernation. Human/bear conflicts are common and sometimes result in the death of bears that have turned to human food and present a danger to the public.
Yet that wasn't the case Thursday, Oct. 14. The RCMP got a call in the early afternoon that a bear had been treed between the Marketplace and Whistler Health Care Centre. Someone had chased the bear after it attempted to enter the underground parking area at the clinic.
A crowd of 50 people converged on the site and the RCMP did crowd control until a conservation officer could arrive. With the bear not coming down and no room to try and coax it out, a decision was made to shoot the bear with a tranquilizer dart.
That raised concerns over what would happen to the bear, roughly 20 feet off the ground, when it fell asleep.
"The Whistler Fire Rescue Service attended, but it was decided that the bear was too heavy for their drop nets," said Sergeant Shawn LeMay of the Whistler RCMP. "What we did have was a liquor store nearby, and firefighters went in and acquired some liquor boxes... to absorb the fall."
While the RCMP did their best to disperse the crowd, there was still a large crowd on hand as the bear was tranquilized and fell from the tree. The crowd was moved further back afterwards as the bear - apparently uninjured in the fall - was carried to the conservation officer's truck and taken to another site in the village near the Sundial Hotel where a trap had been set up. The bear was loaded into the trap, transported and released back into the wild later that day.
This was the second time that a bear had been tranquilized in a tree this year, and Sgt. LeMay noted, "that we won't always have a liquor store around." He said the RCMP are looking at acquiring some air mattresses to use in the future to protect bears in similar situations.
That was one of four bear calls this week. The number of calls generally increases as Whistler transitions into the winter season. People are reminded to lock their houses, to keep bear attractants out of their yards and vehicles, and to dispose of their garbage promptly to avoid conflicts with bears. More information is online at www.bearsmart.com.
As well, when police are dealing with bears in public they request that people don't stop, but allow the RCMP and conservation officers to handle the situation. For example, if there was no crowd the RCMP would have given the bear space to climb down from the tree and then attempted to herd it away from populated areas.
RCMP seeking to identify vending machine thieves
Last week the RCMP received four reports of break-ins to vending machines. They are using the video from at least one of those locations to attempt to identify the suspects.
The RCMP got their first call on Oct. 12 and two additional calls the following day - all three involving local hotels. The suspects use tools to break the lock and rob the machines of change and to take soda. In one machine they likely stole over $100.
On Oct. 18 the RCMP received a call from Meadow Park, which had just discovered the break-in. They went over their security footage and discovered that the theft had occurred a week earlier on Oct. 11.
Using all the videotape footage, the RCMP have determined they are looking for two Caucasian males. One is described as six feet and thin, with long blonde hair. The second is five-foot-eight with black hair and a medium build.
When one of the hotels noticed the theft, they also discovered evidence that someone had been trying to break into units during roughly the same timeframe.
The RCMP would like to hear from anyone who may have information on the case, and will be sharing video stills when they become available.
Burnaby woman arrested for impaired driving
On Monday, Oct. 18 at 6:20 p.m. the RCMP received a report that an intoxicated woman was getting in her car and leaving Pemberton, driving south on Highway 99. The RCMP were able to intercept the vehicle, but not until it had reached the Nordic area in Whistler.
The RCMP determined that the woman was intoxicated and brought her back to the detachment to provide a breathalyzer sample. A 69-year-old resident of Burnaby is being charged with impaired driving and driving over 0.08. She has been handed a 90-day driving prohibition, 30-day impoundment and other penalties under the new law that came into effect on Sept. 20.