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Mother bear electrocuted on Whistler Mountain

Public reminded to manage attractants

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A mother bear was killed on Whistler Mountain on Aug. 31 after climbing a power pole and getting electrocuted.

"It's very unfortunate. It's very rare, I've seen that maybe twice in 10 years," said Sgt. Simon Gravel with the Conservation Officer Service, adding that he didn't want to speculate about why the bear climbed the power pole near Franz's Chair.

The mother bear had a small cub, which was tracked and transported to the Critter Care Wildlife Society in Langley.

"It's a sad story but the positive is we were able to rescue the cub and he will be released when he's ready to go," Gravel said.

The tower—the only of its kind on the mountain—is currently unused and scheduled to be removed, said Whistler Blackcomb's senior manager of communications Marc Riddell.

"We take wildlife very seriously. It's a huge component of everything that we do and how we manage our tenure," Riddell said.

"In the meantime we're going to probably have to put some wildlife fencing around it just to ensure it doesn't happen again."

It's been another busy summer for the COS, which received 44 calls in August about bears in Whistler, down from the 55 received in July (along with 27 in June and 24 in May).

Two bears were killed due to human conflict this summer.

"We're starting the busy season where they're going to be looking for a lot of food, so we want to remind everyone to pick up their food and be very, very diligent with attractants as usual, because we can expect definitely an increase of bear activity in the coming weeks," Gravel said, adding that the berries in the alpine are looking encouraging right now.

Bird feeders, barbecues and fruit trees all need to be managed, added Nicole Fitzgerald of the Get Bear Smart Society.

The bear advocacy group is launching a new "bike ambassador" program with a soft rollout planned for this fall, Fitzgerald said.

"We will be enlisting volunteers to ride their bikes through areas that are heavily trafficked by bears and people going to take photos or view them," she said.

"Basically this will be a trial session to sort of learn (and) adjust and we'll be creating road bike jerseys and expanding the program to the Callaghan Valley as well."

Anyone interested in volunteering for the program can contact Fitzgerald by email: nicole@bearsmart.com.

The public is urged to report any bear sightings throughout Whistler to the COS at 604-905-BEAR or 1-877-952-7277. Early reporting enables the COS to try to change these bears' behaviour with non-lethal methods, before that behaviour escalates in a manner that poses a risk to public safety, according to the COS.

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