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Reporter featured in charming new book about a bear visiting downtown Port Coquitlam

Do you love bears? Hey, Mister Bear!, written by Jim Peacock and featuring illustrations by Dawn Mattson, recalls how a community came together to save a black bear. It also features reporter Diane Strandberg in a starring role — as herself!

I've been writing about black bears visiting the Tri-Cities for over a decade, but I never thought my interest in the topic would get more than a passing notice.

But journalist and writer Jim Peacock has done the honour of including me in a scene in a charming book about his recent bear sighting in downtown Port Coquitlam.

The book Hey, Mister Bear! is lovingly written by someone who knows his craft and it's geared to youngsters interested in local wildlife.

It tells the story of how a bear found its way from the forest to a public space between Port Coquitlam City Hall and the building known as the Gathering Place.

Featuring Peacock, who first spotted the bear in downtown Port Coquitlam while out riding his mobility scooter to have breakfast at Jimmy's Lunch Box, the book describes how seniors are staying active and contributing to society.

It's also an important addition to the conversation about getting rid of attractants, such as garbage, that could lure bears from the forest into the city, creating the possibility of bear/human conflict.

I was featured in the book because I interviewed Peacock about the experience, which resulted in a news story.

This is the third book for Peacock, a 90-year-old former journalist and communications specialist, who currently resides at The Astoria Retirement Residence in Port Coquitlam.

Peacock told the Tri-City News he thought the community might be interested in hearing about the bear that visited the city, climbed a tree and was eventually tranquilized by conservation officers.

The bruin, about three years old, was moved to a safe location in the forest.

Peacock said he got a lot of questions about the bear from fellow Astoria residents and many people are curious about the fact that bears live so close to human habitation.

The Tri-Cities is known for its large bear population, being so closed to the mountains, and some bruins are already awake and foraging for grasses, dandelions and clover. In the summer months, they'll search for higher-calorie foods.

Peacock said he thought people might enjoy learning about a bear in the downtown core. On the day the bruin happened to visit the city, Port Coquitlam was preparing for a grand opening celebration of its new Port Coquitlam Community Centre.

"It just occurred to me that people might get a kick out of it, the bear showing up, and, with more bears seeming to visit human digs, it might make an interesting read," said Peacock.

"There might be enough people wanting to know what happened to that bear that it might sell a book or two," he added.

Critical to the book coming together are the illustrations by Dawn Mattson.

Mattson, who has published a children's book of her own, Stinking Fuzzy Skink, was formerly the concierge at Astoria, which is where Peacock learned of her artistic talents.

The drawings have a vintage look to them, as if Yogi Bear was visiting downtown PoCo.

I particularly like the image of me, holding a microphone, with a sign behind me that says "On Air" as if I was a big-time television or radio reporter.

Peacock has also published a memoir, Remember the Good Times, and a children's word book called Fun with Words.

Hey, Mister Bear! is now available on Amazon, or by email to Peacock.