A young bear harassed by onlookers into climbing down a tree and running through traffic in downtown Port Coquitlam Tuesday is a cautionary tale for people who get too close to bears.
Conservation officer Austin Lord says people shouldn’t crowd bears, especially in an urban environment where any number of things could go wrong.
“It’s best to let them calm down and leave on their own,” said Lord.
The officer was called to the entrance of Gates Park late Tuesday afternoon to deal with a situation where people were photographing the bear and a man used his dog to try and harass the bear into climbing down the tree and leaving the area.
Lord said he didn’t witness the occurrence but said people should give bears their space and not deal with the situation on their own because it could be dangerous.
The situation unfolded at about 3 p.m. when a crowd of people surrounded a tree where a bear had taken refuge. Eventually, it was harassed out of the tree by a man with a dog and, in a bid to escape, the bruin ran into traffic on Wilson Avenue and cornered itself on condo property between a planter and a concrete wall.
“It was a terrible situation and a terrible example for the neighourhood,” said Laura Christine, who witnessed the incident and called police and conservation officers.
She said she tried to disperse the crowd and even attempted to discourage the man with the dog from following the bear, but was unsuccessful.
“I stood there for about 10 minutes and then told everyone to back off and let him have his space,” Christine said.
The man called her a “Karen,” referring to a meme about a complaining, entitled white woman, and proceeded to use his dog to chase the bear, she told the Tri-City News, adding that it angers and frustrates her when people leave attractants out that lure the bears into neighbourhoods then harass them by photographing and chasing them.
On the Tri-Cities Bear Aware Community Group Facebook page, Christine said that she is “beyond frustrated,” later telling the Tri-City News she got involved because “The bear doesn’t have a voice. Everyone just whips out a camera. Nobody cares about the bear.”