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VIDEO: Bear tranquilized in Saanich, tagged and returned to the wild

Bear calls are prolific in Langford and other West Shore areas this spring

Catching a bear on camera wandering through the yard in the wee hours of the morning, one Saanich resident didn’t hesitate to alert the block watch captain.

That person, in turn, did the right thing flagging the B.C. Conservation Officer Service (COS) and alerting neighbours.

The bear was captured on video in the 2800-block of Colquitz Avenue on Tuesday (May 21) around 1 a.m.

“To me that’s shocking, I feel that this is not bear country,” said Catherine Culley, the captain in question. “It’s good to know there’s a bear in the area.”

In a potentially related situation, conservation relocated a bear from the area Wednesday morning.

Conservation had no idea where it came from, or where it hangout, but it did make its way to a heavily populated, urbanized area and found itself with no escape route, explained Scott Norris, sergeant with the south Island COS.

“That was a bear we basically had no history on.”

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Later determined to be a male bear in good condition, they’re guessing it followed the Gorge Waterway seeking habitat, then found itself in a subdivision.

“Then the get scared by a dog or a car horn and climb a tree, then they’re suddenly in a tree in the middle of the city,” Norris said. “That becomes a safety risk because now it’s in backyards and city streets.”

Deemed a non-habituated bear, officers could safely tranquilize, ear-tag and release the bear back into the south Island wilderness.

“We make every effort to relocate bears like that,” Norris said. “Hopefully he likes his new home and stays there.”

The goal, is to avoid the bears becoming habituated by human activity, specifically leaving trash, pet food or other attractants out.

This spring the vast majority of bear calls are from Langford, with some coming from rural Saanich, View Royal, Highlands and Colwood.

View Royal is conducting a pilot project giving residents bear-proof garbage bins in an effort to curb conflict. They’ve set aside $5,000 to provide the bins and provide bear awareness education to some residents of the Riverside neighbourhood.

It’s a neighbourhood adjacent to known bear habitat. In June 2023, a bear with three cubs was euthanized in the area after reports of it climbing onto residential porches to access food.

“We don’t enjoy having to euthanize bears, we enjoy coexisting with bears. The only way to coexist is to lock up attractants,” Norris said. “It’s illegal to leave your garbage out until garbage day. That’s to keep bears safe and wild and to keep our neighbourhoods safe.”

- with files from Bailey Seymour.

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Christine van Reeuwyk

About the Author: Christine van Reeuwyk

Longtime journalist with the Greater Victoria news team.
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