The B.C. Conservation Officer Service (BCCOS) is searching for a potentially dangerous bear that killed a llama in Saanich Monday afternoon.
“The bear is showing signs of habituation to human food sources,” said Sgt. Scott Norris with the BCCOS.
“It’s attacked livestock, it’s losing its fear of humans. So when you put all that together, it points in the direction of euthanization based on our policy and our matrix. And that’s the worst part of the job, is having to euthanize a bear.”
The search initially began Monday afternoon, when Saanich police received a call around 4 p.m. about a fatal encounter on a property in the 4700 block of West Saanich Road.
“This bear, believed to be a black bear, had mauled a llama,” said Const. Markus Anastasiades, media relations officer with Saanich police. “The homeowner was concerned because the bear was not leaving the property and showed no signs of being afraid of the owner.”
When police arrived on scene, the black bear had disappeared. The BCCOS was called in for help but were unable to locate the bear. This morning, there were several new sightings, beginning at 8 a.m.
The bear was first spotted around Elk Lake Drive near the “Welcome to Victoria” sign on Pat Bay Highway.
“We searched the area, we then got a sighting a little further north in Elk Lake park,” said Norris.
Norris and his team went in that direction, when they got another report of a sighting a few blocks away from that. They didn’t have much luck there and began to search the surrounding area, when Norris came across the bear himself near Jennings Lane, by the Victoria Rowing Club.
But the bear got away.
It was last seen going through someone’s garbage Tuesday afternoon, on the east side of the Pat Bay Highway, by Santa Clara Avenue.
The bear was last seen wandering eastbound across Hwy 17 from Elk Lake around lunchtime today. We have not had any reports since. For public awareness at this time. #Saanich #bear pic.twitter.com/AjcJ1jAiCa
— Saanich Police (@SaanichPolice) October 20, 2020
Sightings like these aren’t unusual, especially in Saanich. In May alone, there were at least two separate bear sightings in the Elk Lake area.
“In the last five years, our bear calls from Saanich have increased,” said Norris. “People who live in Saanich along West Saanich Road or anywhere up around Elk Lake can expect the bears are going to be in their neighbourhood all summer long and all year long, even all winter. They don’t always den on southern Vancouver Island.”
The best way to prevent situations like these, he added, is to lock up your garbage and any other food attractants all year long. Installing electric fences to protect livestock wherever possible is also helpful.
Any bear exhibiting concerning behaviour should be reported to local police, Anastasiades said.
“If you’re walking and you come across a bear and it starts to follow you, that’s concerning behaviour,” explained Anastasiades. “If it’s lunging at your pets that you have with you on a leash, that’s concerning behaviour. Anything more than just rummaging through garbage or wandering around, certainly give us a call.”
If you come across the Saanich bear, Norris recommends backing away slowly, getting to safety and calling BCCOS at 1 877 952-7277 (RAPP) or Saanich PD at 250-475-4321.