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Bow hunter got bear

Two bears feed on blueberry bushes. - PHILIP WARBURTON PHOTO
Two bears feed on blueberry bushes.
— image credit: PHILIP WARBURTON PHOTO

Conservation officers tracked and shot a bear in woodlands near Minnekhada Regional Park Friday after a bow-hunting incident on a neighbouring blueberry farm went awry.

Two men reportedly bow hunting with legal permits and with the permission of the farmer shot the bear with an arrow Thursday evening but didn’t kill it and the animal ran into nearby Addington Marsh Wildlife Management Area, where it was tracked and killed 18 hours later.

Coquitlam RCMP attended and the Mounties’ Air One helicopter was brought in to help find the injured bear but the file has been handed over to the B.C. Conservation Officer service, according to police spokesperson Kristina Biro.

Members of the Conservation Officer Service were not available to comment but a spokesperson for Metro Vancouver Regional Parks said the bear was not killed in Minnekhada Regional Park and the park was not closed to visitors.

Freda Schade said the terrain likely prevented the bear from entering park boundaries and visitors were never in danger. But Schade said if the injured bruin had run into the park, “that would have been a clear situation where there’s an injured, wounded bear and the authorities would have insisted and we would [have closed the park].”

But a visitor who arrived at the park about an hour after the bear was shot by the bow hunters and running loose in neighbouring woodlands would have liked a warning or at least more information about what was gong on. Karri Page said she saw police and men in camouflage dress outside the park gates at about 8 p.m. Thursday on her way to a meeting about renting the Minnekhada Lodge. She was allowed to proceed without incident, her toddler in tow, to visit the grounds and only learned about that an injured bear was being tracked when she flagged down a police officer on her way out.

“If the pubic is going into parks and things and there’s an incident, maybe they should let them know,” Page said.

Coquitlam’s Bear Aware co-ordinator, Drake Stephens, said was he was informed about the incident by conservation officers and said he was surprised to find out that bow hunting is legal even in a semi-rural area popular with walkers, runners and cyclists.

“I do consider it to be hazardous to be walking along the dikes and the slough and Oliver Road and having projectiles whizzing around,” said Stephens, who could not confirm details about the bear, such as whether it was male or female or known to conservation officers. Stephens said he is looking into the incident.

The owner of the blueberry farm at 4400 Oliver Rd., who requested their name not be published, said the bow hunters arrived on the farm with legal tags and were granted permission because bear hunting season is legal until June 15 and bears have been causing problems on the farm. Although it’s too early for blueberry season, bears are attracted to beehives rented for the pollination of the blueberry crop and have been tearing them apart looking for bee larva, she said.

“On farms, you’re allowed to [hunt] at the right times,” the property owner noted, adding that bears are getting through fencing put up last year to prevent bears from congregating on the large property. Shooting bears isn’t the typical way of dealing with the problem and the farm’s electric fence wasn’t turned on because it’s early for bear season but bears have become increasingly desperate to get on to the property, the woman said.

“People don’t realize how bad it is,” she said. “I’ve had them right in the driveway trying to climb over the gate.”

Bow hunting is legal in B.C., as is bear hunting until June 15 with appropriate permits. And while Coquitlam bylaws restrict the use of firearms within city limits, they can be used on farms with the permission of property owners.

Police report the hunters were fined for violations but the Tri-City News was unable to confirm the details from the Conservation Officer Service.

This is the second bear shooting in Coquitlam in recent weeks. Another bear was shot a few weeks ago in the agricultural area not far away near DeBoville Slough after it killed some chickens

dstrandberg@tricitynews.com

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