A family of four bears has residents around Shawnigan Lake on alert after the wild animals’ repeat visits to backyards and porches in recent days.
The area is filled with children, pets and hobby farms and conservation officers say they need the public’s help to to get the animals to stop returning day after day.
Kelsea Hamilton walks out to the spot in her Shawnigan Lake backyard, where just minutes earlier this black bear stood watching her.
“I’ve never seen a bear that close so for me it was sort of an adrenaline rush and my heart was pounding,” recalls the mother of two. “He looked like he was going to come right onto my deck.”
One of the four in a family of bears is making the rounds of the Shawnigan Lake area.
“Big, big, big black bears. Very, very big black bears,” says Hamilton.
For her family their visits started Sunday night.
“My son, my eight-year-old son, said bear and we looked out here and right there and right there were these giant bears,” says Hamilton.
Since then they have been back three times and visiting neighbours homes too, in this neighbourhood near Shawnigan Lake School that is filled with kids, pets and hobby farms.
“We’re all letting each other know they’re in our yards and everybody’s letting everybody know because nobody wants anything to happen,” says Hamilton.
Conservation officers say it is likely a mother and her 2-year-old cubs. The same foursome they’ve been getting reports about from dozens of neighbours in recent weeks.
“It is definitely dry out there but there’s still a lot of available food,” says Sgt. Scott Norris. “The problem is they get drawn into the communities by the smell of garbage and other food attractants in people’s houses and that’s what we’re seeing is the increase right now.”
And officials say there is a small window right now before these bears have become completely habituated to garbage and will have to be destroyed. Since it has already been a few weeks and many kilometres of range, officials are asking all residents in the area to keep close watch on garbage sources to force the bears back into the hills they belong in to find food.
“If everybody does their part and puts their garbage away and the bears stop hanging around that community they’ll be able to survive,” says Norris.
An ending that Kelsea Hamilton would like to see to this Shawnigan Lake and the four bears story, that will take a community effort to make happen.