Bears treed in Colwood, then given space to escape into forest

Animals' proximity to Royal Bay secondary caused concern

It wasn’t Yogi Bear teaming with Boo Boo to raid the lunches of Royal Bay students in Colwood.

But the sighting of what was believed to be a mother bear with her yearling cub, in a forested area near the school on Tuesday at around 8 a.m., caused some concern about the proximity to the school. West Shore RCMP initially responded to reports of sightings in the area near Wishart Road and Rockwood Terrace, and a team of conservation officers with dogs were called in to track the animals. Other schools in the area were also notified.

Officials managed to locate the two bears, but not before they climbed over 60 feet up a tree in the forested area at the back of the former gravel pit.

“There’s a million things that could go wrong when you try to tranquilize an animal,” Peter Pauwels, regional conservation officer, said during the exercise. Since the bears were so far up the tree and there were so few branches to help cushion their fall, officers didn’t want to risk seriously injuring the animals, he said. “We’re going to give them a chance to leave the area on their own.”

He thought it was most likely the bears wandered into the area from Metchosin. “If it goes back that way we may never hear from them again.”

Pauwels said fall is always the busiest time of year for bear sightings. With the animals trying to put on as much weight as possible before winter, he said, bears are often drawn to residential areas because of fruit trees in backyards. Bears are also more mobile this time of year, he added, as they try to find dens to hunker down in to weather the colder months.

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