As more grizzly bears swim to Vancouver Island, wildlife guide urges education
Conservation officers say they're continuing to monitor grizzly bears spotted on central Vancouver Island in recent weeks.
Video posted to social media last month showed a large grizzly bear chewing on long grass on the side of a logging road north of Campbell River.
The bear's presence on Vancouver Island is considered uncommon, though some bears are known to swim to the North Island from Johnstone Strait on mainland B.C.
There have been more recent sightings of grizzly bears, mostly between Rock Bay Marine Provincial Park and Sayward, conservation officer John Paquin said.
A photo was posted to Facebook Monday appearing to show a grizzly walking on a road half an hour north of Campbell River.
Paquin said none of the reports indicate the bear or bears are food-conditioned and they aren't approaching any homes in the area.
He said some grizzlies tend to swim over to the island every year and will most often just swim back to the mainland.
Nick Templeman, owner of Campbell River Whale and Bear Excursions, said he has previously photographed "Prince," one of the grizzlies known to be traversing to Vancouver Island, at Philips Arm.
"We're getting sightings in Phillips where we've seen black bears right beside grizzly bears," he said.
Templeman said he's concerned over comments on Facebook saying the grizzly bears should be destroyed so they don't threaten nearby communities.
He thinks Vancouver Island residents should learn more about grizzly bears and how different they are from local black bears.
"I think maybe they need to be a little bit more educated about how bears can reach and how to react to that bear," he said, adding most grizzlies want nothing to do with populated areas. "You don't see that grizzly bear come walking into the town of Sayward."
Mother grizzly bears are famously protective of their cubs and, when threatened, are inclined to defend themselves, according to BC Parks. Many attacks occur when bears are surprised by humans at close range.
Anyone who comes face-to-face with a grizzly is encouraged to stay calm and try to alert the bear in a non-threatening manner, wave their arms slowly and back away slowly, avoiding sudden movements.
Those who spot a grizzly are asked to report it to the BC Conservation Officer Service at 1-877-952-7277.