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Grizzly bear photographed on Vancouver Island in rare sighting

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The B.C. Conservation Officer Service (COS) is warning residents of a grizzly bear that's been spotted in the Port McNeill area of Vancouver Island.

Jessica Colombo, who lives about 10 minutes outside of Port McNeill, posted photos and a video of the grizzly bear in her backyard on Wednesday evening.

She says she wanted to warn other residents of the bear, since many have farmyard animals and children.

The grizzly bear is pictured in Port McNeill, B.C. (Jessica Colombo)"So usually every day after dinner I take my toddler outside and let him run around in the back property, just before bedtime to burn off some energy," she said.

Once they had returned inside, Colombo says the bear appeared right where they were playing.

"About two minutes later [my son] was standing at the window saying, 'Bear, mummy, bear!'" said Colombo.

"I was kind of shocked because it looked like a grizzly to me right away, but we don't get those here on the island."

Conservation officers have confirmed with CTV News that it was indeed a grizzly bear and are encouraging residents to give the bear space until it moves on, and to not approach it for pictures.

"This is risky behaviour that is not condoned by the COS," said the conservation service.

RARE SIGHTING

Colombo says the bear stayed in her yard for less than 10 minutes before wandering off.

"He kind of moseyed off back into the forest," she said.

Colombo says she was a little bit worried about calling the bear a grizzly online, since they are so rarely seen on the island, but wanted her neighbours and community to know about it so they could keep their animals – like horses, chickens and pets – safe from the bear.

The grizzly bear is pictured in Port McNeill, B.C. (Jessica Colombo)The BCCOS is encouraging people to secure or remove bear attractants, such as garbage, birdseed or pet food.

It adds that there have been no reports of aggressive behaviour related to the grizzly, or reports of conflicts, as of Thursday.

While it's rare, the conservation service says grizzly bears do occasionally swim to northern Vancouver Island and nearby gulf islands from the central coast.

"Conservation officers are monitoring the situation and are asking the public to please use caution and report any sightings to the Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) hotline at 1-877-952-7277," said the BCCOS.

Colombo says she's grateful for the chance to have seen the bear, but hopes it doesn’t come back.

"It was really cool. I feel very lucky to have seen it for sure," she said.

She adds that she plans to be more mindful of her surroundings while out in her yard.

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