Future of Botanical Beach bear uncertain after being taunted by visitors

WatchA trap was set for the Botanical Beach black bear after people tried to lure it to get photos. Tess van Straaten reports.

With crashing waves and incredible tidal pools, Botanical Beach is a popular spot on the wild west coast.

But the area in Juan de Fuca Provincial Park has become a little too popular lately and that’s bad news for the black bear that lives in the area.

“I’m absolutely devastated, this is a bear in its natural environment,” says concerned hiker Leila Johnston. “This bear shouldn’t die because of us! This is not right, this is really not right.”

Botanical Beach’s resident black bear has been a familiar sight for years — foraging for food in the tidal pools and leaving people alone.

Until recently, people left the bear alone, too — capturing its movements from a safe distance.

But with an influx of visitors to Botanical Beach since the COVID-19 pandemic, some people have been baiting the bear to try and get a better photo.

“They’re surrounding it and baiting it so they can get in closer and get the bear to put his head up,” says Pat Creswell, who visited the area from Nanaimo on Sunday. “Due to all these people, they basically signed his death warrant!”

Botanical Beach and Botany Bay have been closed and a trap was set up to catch the bear.

“I said to them, are you going to relocate it and she said, ‘no, he’s going to be euthanized’,” Creswell says.

Reaction from avid hikers has been fast and furious — some are even calling the premier John Horgan’s office, who’s the MLA for the area, to ask him to intervene.

“It’s completely ridiculous, this is an animal where it’s supposed to be!” Johnston says. “This isn’t a bear that’s habituated and rifling through garbage in Langford. This is a bear that’s in his home and we’re invading it and this bear shouldn’t die because humans can’t be responsible.”

B.C. conversation officers tell CHEK News the trap will be removed.

But a spokesperson for BC Parks says it’s not because of all the complaints, it’s because the trap is failing to catch the animal.

For now, it’s not clear what will happen to the bear.

BC Parks says “Botanical Beach and Botany Bay will remain closed and staff will be monitoring the area” and putting up “extensive signage” warning of a bear in the area.

Hikers returning from the Juan de Fuca trail will be re-directed away from the area.

Tess van StraatenTess van Straaten

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