Whistler pedestrians got a rare up-close look at young male adult bear on Saturday (Nov. 17) in Village Square.
Conservation Officer (CO) Simon Gravel said he was alerted to a bear in a tree in the square, so he immediately made his way up from Squamish to deal with the potentially dangerous situation. While he was in transit, the RCMP made sure people were kept back from the area and there was an escape corridor for the bruin if it decided to climb down.
By the time Gravel arrived in the late morning, he said the bear was very high up in the tree - too high to be tranquilized from the ground.
"We had the muni employees on site installing some Christmas lights with an elevator," said Gravel.
With help from the municipal employees, Gravel put on a fall protection harness and went up in the man-lift to get close to the bear.
"I drugged the bear and was just waiting for him to show some signs that he was falling asleep, so when he was just sleepy enough to not 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 didn't resist. The bear worked with Gravel and the municipal employee to get loaded into the basket. The trio was lowered to the ground for another round of drugs to put the animal into 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 before Gravel took the healthy and well-known bear to Chance Creek for release at 3 p.m. This particular bear has been relocated a number of times, according to Gravel. He said the bear 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.
The hope is that the healthy male will den somewhere instead of returning to the village.