A campground west of Sooke on Vancouver Island has reopened to the public after a food-conditioned bear ripped four tents and broke into vehicles, forcing the site to close.
French Beach Provincial Park, located between Sooke and Jordan River, reopened Monday following a multi-day closure, the BC Conservation Officer Service (COS) tells CHEK News.
The tent and vehicle incidents happened on Wednesday, July 26, the same day BC Parks closed the park due to bear activity. It said the park would stay closed until at least July 30, and it would be reassessed on July 31 for the possibility of reopening.
The COS says it deployed two bear traps on Wednesday evening in hopes of capturing the bear, while officers also patrolled the park and monitored bear activity through to Sunday night.
“During this time, no bears were observed in the park or entered the traps,” the COS said in a statement. “Wildlife cameras set up in key locations in the campground confirmed there was no presence of bears.”
According to the COS, the bear is no longer in the park, and it’s expected to have moved on. The service adds that its officers and BC Parks will continue to actively monitor the area.
“During BC Park’s enhanced monitoring program, Park Rangers will be providing public education, and ensuring all campers and park users appropriately manage their wildlife attractants,” it said.
Also last Wednesday, a driver in Saanich pulled over after spotting a black bear attacking an elderly female sheep on a farm along Prospect Lake Road. The bear fled the scene, and the property owner said the ewe would not likely recover.
According to BC Parks, British Columbia is “bear country,” meaning encounters can happen almost anywhere, and some bears may be heavily habituated.
“Bears that receive food from hikers or eat garbage or food at campsites start to associate people with food. When bears become ‘food conditioned’ this way, they may start to approach campers or hikers and behave aggressively,” it adds.
On its website BC Parks shares bear safety tips, including stopping where you are, staying calm and never running away when seeing one. Having bear spray is also recommended.