Two grizzly bears seen roaming Cochrane neighbourhood

Two grizzly bears seen roaming Cochrane neighbourhood
WATCH ABOVE: People who live in the southwest end of Cochrane were being warned to watch out for a grizzly on the loose. One bear has been trapped, while another one was still being pursued as of Sunday night. As Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports, it's made its way through several properties, eating chickens and chasing dogs.

Some Cochrane residents had two surprise visitors this past weekend when they looked out their kitchen window in the Rolling Range Estates neighbourhood.

The Rieberer family spotted two grizzly bears roaming their backyard on Friday and Saturday. One bear chased Joanne Rieberer’s dogs up the stairs to the upper deck of her home.

“It was interesting. They were really cute at first, until they chased my dogs and me up the deck. I was a little frightened then. I was within 30 feet (of them),” Joanne Rieberer said. “The bear came around quite a few times throughout the day. So I spent the evening inside after he chased us up the deck.”

Credit: Rieberer Family / Global News
She said one bear went into their garage, pond and other neighbours’ yards, bird feeders, chicken coops and compost bins.
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“At first, when you’re watching him from afar you think wow, this is really majestic. He’s cute. But when he aggressively pursues those two big 100-pound dogs, that’s not so cute anymore. Now it’s kind of scary,” Rieberer said. “They got into our garbage. He was rolling the propane tanks around. They were drinking out of the dog dish and they got into this oil can. There are teeth marks in it.”
Rieberer said one of the bears was trapped Friday by Fish and Wildlife and the other was still roaming at large as of Sunday morning.

Joanne’s husband, Will Rieberer, was watching when the animal was trapped Saturday.

He said the second one came to check out the one in the trap.

“It all started on Friday morning with one of my neighbours, he got into his chicken coop and that’s when Fish and wildlife and the peace officers were alerted. They got one of them on Friday night and they left it in the trap to try to attract the other one but he’s not going in, he’s too smart,” Will Rieberer said.
“So since Friday night, all day yesterday, he’s been in and out of our yard and around all of our neighbours’ tearing up compost in bird feeders, garbage at our place whatever he can get into.”
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“The second bear, he’s a good size was probably about three or 400 pounds. He was on top of the bear trap where the other one was and you could hear the other one crying out. And the other one was up on top but he wasn’t going to go in,” Will Rieberer said.

Cochrane resident Darren Wilkinson said one of the bears ate two of his chickens.  He says all the bear left behind were the feet.

“I saw a grizzly bear on top of my chicken coop. I walked down to put my chickens in last night just before dark, and I came around the corner and he was on top of my chicken coop bouncing up-and-down like a baby trying to get in,” Wilkinson said. “I panicked and ran back into the house as quickly as I could. I was about 20 feet away. It was scary. We could hear him on the back deck, we could hear him breaking into the chicken coop. It was a shock. At first I was looking at it and wondering if I was really seeing what I was seeing.”

Sunday, a forestry helicopter was circling overhead of the area and RCMP shut down a few roads in hopes of trapping the bear still at large.
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Dan Laville, spokesperson for Alberta’s Justice and Solicitor General, says although grizzlies are not common in the Cochrane area, they are known to frequent the are and it is not uncommon to see grizzlies south of Cochrane.
“Two grizzlies were spotted in the Cochrane area on Friday, between the neighbourhood of Fireside and Cochrane proper,” Laville said. “Residents are reminded to stay away from bear traps and sightings can be reported to the 24-hour Report A Poacher line at 1-800-642-3800.”
Laville offered the following helpful tips for bear safety;
  • To help prevent bears from coming near your house, remove pet food and feeders at night. 
  • Consider electric fencing if your garden or stored produce attracts bears. Consider removing fruit trees and berry-producing bushes from your property. 
  • Remove bird feeders from your yard between April and October. Be sure to clean up any spilled bird feed off the ground. 
  • Keep your garbage in bear-resistant, airtight containers. 
  • Keep your compost indoors. Outdoor compost attracts bears. Look into using an indoor composter. 
  • Clean your barbecues. Scrub your barbecue clean after each use and store it in a bear-resistant building, such as the garage or shed. 
With files from Carolyn Kury de Castillo
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bear warning sign