Part 3 of our series saluting B.C.’s best animals of 2019 focuses on the province’s most infamous invasive species: bears. And we break from tradition for this one, saluting not the best bears in B.C. but the worst, since bears mostly make the news for their misdeeds — they are truly bad news bears — and one of the bears on this list bit off a kid’s fingertip. The child survived, as did the bear, which is remarkable since most bears that venture into the human world are destroyed.
All five of the bears on this list survived, which is award-worthy in its own right, as the number of bears put down by B.C. conservation officers this year alone surpassed 500 — a 40 per cent spike from 2018. It’s a remarkable statistic, since bears have killed just 17 British Columbians in the last 20 years, leaving one to wonder who really threatens whom here.
But don’t you go siding with the bears. In June, three Coquitlam residents were arrested for obstruction of justice after allegedly trying to help a trio of bears escape conservation officers. One can only hope the residents were actually the bears in clever disguises. You laugh, but bears are capable of more than you think. One of the bears on this list broke into a car.
And the nominees for worst bear are:
X-BEAR, THE NORTH SEYMOUR BEAR THAT JUST WANTS TO RIDE
A trio of mountain bikers saw the extremeness of their extreme sport spike in early October when a black bear tried to join their crew. He didn’t have a bike, so he simply may have been trying to borrow one of theirs, but from the cyclists’ perspective, they were actually just chased by a black bear for more than a kilometre on the North Seymour trail.
Brad Martyn, one of the three, caught the whole thing on his helmet-mounted video camera, and now we know: the most dangerous thing about mountain biking isn’t a potential spill — it’s a potential spill into a hungry bear’s mouth.
After riding down the challenging trail for about a kilometre, Martyn and his friends eventually scared the bear off by huddling together, lifting their bikes over their heads, shouting and throwing rocks.
Put off by this totally not extreme response, the bear wandered off in search of some mountain dew.
DRIVER, THE PORT MOODY BEAR THAT CALLED SHOTGUN
Postmedia’s Tiffany Crawford gave us her best headline of the year when she told the story of a black bear in Port Moody that got himself locked inside a vehicle: Port Moody car thief breaks into vehicle with bear hands. I see what you did there, Tiffany, and I salute you.
Port Moody police were called to a house on Ioco Road one September morning to deal with a bear that was trying to escape from — rather than gain entry to — a vehicle. Like most residents of the microbrewery hotspot, the bear was likely on the hunt for a growler refill. Unfortunately, there was little in the car that appealed to him. Even worse, the bear, like a bad contract, had no exit claws.
The resident was kind enough to share video of the incident, in which you can see the bear hanging out in the vehicle’s passenger seat like his partner is inside the store getting some snacks. He even gazes impatiently through the window — a move I like to call the car bear stare.
Pity the poor bear, who went to all the trouble of breaking into the vehicle, only to remember he can’t drive stick. But it all worked out. After opening the door, Port Moody Police declined to charge the bear, and the bear smartly responded in kind.
REALITY, THE ALDERGROVE BEAR THAT BITES
A black bear in Aldergrove bit a two-year-old girl on the arm this August, and I know what you’re thinking: lock up that bear.
Thing is, the bear was already behind bars at the Greater Vancouver Zoo. Somehow, the toddler wandered into the staff-only area of the bear’s enclosure, and the bear attempted to shake her hand, but, like, with his mouth. The girl was rushed to hospital and treated for a broken arm. She lost a fingertip, but has otherwise fully recovered since the incident.
Lest you find yourself frightened by this tale, fear not: here is the photo of the bad news bear that ran alongside this story:
That said, the bear is American, so it’s possible he simply felt the child, not he, should be the one in a cage.
While bears that attack children are generally destroyed in B.C., the Greater Vancouver Zoo’s bear is a celebrity, so he instead received the lighter sentence of life in prison.
SUGAR BEAR, THE CAMPBELL RIVER COBBLER GOBBLER
Admittedly, this bear’s moniker is a bit of a misnomer. As far as we know, the bear that broke into a Vancouver Island home last week didn’t eat any cobbler at all. But based on everything else he devoured, no cobbler is safe if this bear is nearby.
Campbell River resident Sharla Marr, a trainer baker, was shocked to discover when she woke up last Friday morning that a bear that had broken into the upright freezer in her carport, and even more shocked to discover that bear went straight for the sweets like Winnie the frickin’ Pooh. He turned his nose up at the typical bear fare, including blackberries, meatballs and smoked salmon, and went straight for Marr’s Christmas baking.
This bear was a real sugar bear. Like a typical Vancouver Islander, he couldn’t resist a fresh pan of mint Nanaimo bars, to which I say: See this, Canada Post? Even a dumb bear knows what a real Nanaimo bar looks like. But the Campbell River Cobbler Gobbler didn’t stop there. The greedy beast also obliterated a kilogram of peanut brittle and some chocolate truffles because it’s Christmas, and then he left a huge thank-you turd on Marr’s doorstep like if Santa Claus was a bear.
“The only reason I know what he took is I know what I baked,” an annoyed Marr told the Times Colonist, adding that she hoped the bear had a stomach ache.
RAKE BEAR, THE RAKISH BEAR THAT LOVES RAKES
Most of the hazards one encounters on a golf course are sand and water traps. But this October, the Northlands Golf Course in North Vancouver featured a novel new challenge: a huge black bear that just wants to party. Golfer Ken Bayne told the North Shore News that his group encountered the young bear multiple times during their round — he darted out of the bushes on the 15th hole and was spotted swimming in a water hazard on the 16th hole.
At the 18th hole, Bayne captured video of the bear attempting to steal a rake.
Bayne said the bear ran at the sand trap and just started tossing around a rake and played with it for a few seconds, then took the rake and ran into the bush.
“It was pretty funny to watch, I must admit,” said Bayne.
One wonders how the bear was allowed entry in the first place. Not only is he not wearing proper golf attire, but the rate for 18 holes at the public course is upward of $45. Where does a bear get that kind of money?
And the winner is … TBA.
More to come … including B.C.’s best animal of 2019.
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