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'Distressed' Port Coquitlam black bear gorged himself on apples

PORT COQUITLAM — Multiple reports were made earlier in September about a "distressed" bear dubbed "Romeo."
A bear was recently tranquilized and relocated out of Port Coquitlam.| Getty Images/MLorenz photography

Bears spotted in Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody this fall are going through a phase of extreme eating to store up fat in preparation for winter denning.

They are in a state, called "hyperphagia," as they try to eat as much as 20,000 calories per day, according to WildSafe BC.

So it's no surprise to see bruins in and around the Tri-Cities as they look for easy sources of food.

But one bear, dubbed Romeo by some PoCo residents and living in the rural Devon Road neighbourhood, may have gone too far in a bid to put on some pounds.

According to information from the Ministry of Environment, the large black bear was tranquilized by BC Conservation Officers (COS) due to concern about his well-being.

Bear appeared 'distressed'

Reports that the bear was "distressed" prompted conservation officers to attend the bruin.

Provincial wildlife veterinarians believed the bruin had "gorged" on apples and other fruits, the Tri-City News was told via email.

It was tranquilized and taken to a COS office to be monitored until the following morning.

The next day the bear "appeared to be in good health" and, with no previous conflict history, was approved for relocation, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Environment confirmed to the Tri-City News.

That will be good news to those who have followed the bruin's exploits in the neighbourhood.

Apparently, "Romeo" obtained the reputation as a "gentle giant" because of his size and lack of conflict behaviour

"He eats grass and is most often seen at the end of summer when the wild blackberries are ripe near the PoCo trail," wrote Amanda Vinette-Christensen in an email to the Tri-City News.

"I saw him under an apple tree on Prairie Ave a few days ago filling up on apples," she wrote on Sept. 13.

"He is not sick, just eating a lot of fruit as he is in hyperphagia."

Vinette-Christensen added that she hoped conservation officers would treat "Romeo" with kindness.

Coquitlam bear hit by car

However, another black bear spotted in the Tri-Cities was not so lucky.

A bear was struck by a vehicle on Sept. 8 near Coast Meridian Road and David Avenue.

Unfortunately, the bear did not survive, the Tri-City News was told in a Ministry of Environment email.

According to a reader, the bruin was a young bear and officers from COS and the RCMP attended.

"It's incredibly distressing to me that people are unable to coexist with bears and other wildlife in our community.  A sad way to start the day," Carolyn (no last name provided) wrote in an email to the Tri-City News.

With bears seeking food, residents are encouraged to remove all attractants including food waste, rotting fruit, bird seed and pet food.

While most bear encounters result in the bear leaving an area, they can become more assertive or destructive when they have learned to associate humans and their activities with food.

For tips on living with bears, you can visit the B.C. government website.

Contact the Conservation Officer Service at 1-877-952-7277 (RAPP) if a bear poses an immediate threat or danger to public safety.