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Bear struck by car likely made it back to the woods

Jun 22 2012

The bear that was struck by a car on the Trans-Canada Highway in View Royal before eluding capture by conservation officers and tracking dogs on Wednesday appears to have made it back to the wilderness.

Conservation officer Peter Pauwels said the bear was sighted Wednesday evening crossing Watkiss Way, near Victoria General Hospital, and heading north.

No sightings were reported Thursday, "so it appears to have moved on," Pauwels said.

Both people who reported seeing the bear said it appeared in good condition, despite having been hit by a car Wednesday morning.

RCMP and Pauwels were summoned to the scene. Pauwels and tracking dogs chased the bear in a small forested area near the Colwood off-ramp.

The bear appeared to be in good form and managed to avoid being cornered. Pauwels suspended the pursuit Wednesday afternoon and predicted the bear would head into the woods when things quieted down.

It appears that's what happened, Pauwels said Thursday.

There has been an increase in bear sightings over the past few years, he said.

"Our numbers are consistent with the last couple of years, which were way higher than before," Pauwels said. "If you compare to five years ago, we're getting two to three times as many calls."

People generally know how to behave around bears, but they're not getting the message on keeping garbage secure, he said.

"There are some problems in Sooke, a lot of problems in East Sooke, with people who don't have secure garbage facilities," Pauwels said.

"Some people are building what they feel are secure garbage containers and the bears are breaking into those."

A simple plywood box is easily breached by a hungry bear, he said. "You need something real skookum."

AVOIDING BEAR CONFLICTS

Tips from Bear Aware, the education component of the province's Bear Smart program, on how to avoid bear conflicts:

? If you see a bear from a distance, stop - never run - as the bear may chase you. If the bear has not seen you, leave the area quietly.

? If you see a bear and the bear sees you, back away, speaking in deep, low tones at normal volume.

? A bear in your yard should not be a welcome sight. Eliminate attractants after the bear is gone. Never approach a bear, even on your own property.

? Garbage should be kept indoors until collection day or put in a bear-resistant container.

? In compost piles, kitchen scraps should be layered under dried leaves, grasses, shredded newspaper or cardboard. Do not add fish, meat, fat, oils, cooked foods or unrinsed egg shells.

? Bear sightings can be reported to the conservation officer service at 1-877-952-7277. For more information, go to bearaware.bc.ca

smcculloch@timescolonist.com

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