It’s the kind of wake-up call that would really get your heart pumping.
David Weale was camping along the Capilano River in late July, which is prohibited, when he encountered a black bear sniffing around his tent – with only a thin piece of mesh to protect him.
Weale says, “I made very sure to stay as calm as I could and just tried to keep my energy very light”.
But the camper not only lived to tell the tale, he captured the whole thing on video.
It shows the bear breaking down the tent supports, eventually forcing Weale out of the structure coming with metres of the animal. He only managed to get away after distracting it with the food he had on him.
“I put one smoothie on the ground, opened the lid and he followed me up there” says Weale. “He just went down and started licking out the smoothie like a dog would.”
But those actions and the video, now making the rounds online are coming under some harsh criticism.
Provincial WildSafe BC Coordinator Frank Ritcey says, “The bear can become habituated very quickly, and if he gets a food reward that’s when there’s a real issue.”
The backlash from the public is no better. One comment on the video says, “Don’t be surprised if this bear ends up needing to be euthanized and you can blame this idiot.”
Another reads, “He is lucky. Next people this bear will see might not be. Thanks to him.”
More and more campers are being called out. A human-habituated bear in Garabaldi Park is on the verge of being put down after dangerously approaching people, even “bluff charging” conservation officers on several occasions.
Sergeant Todd Hunter with the Conservation Officer Service says, “It’s extremely frustrating for us. We’ve had to destroy a number of bears this year and a lot of the issues could’ve been prevented.”
Blogger Tayrn Eyton’s latest post titled, “You Killed a Bear”, goes a step further. Shaming the careless human behavior.
Eyton says, “Campers have been leaving food and garbage out and the bear has had access to that and is eating it and is becoming less afraid of people. It’s their house, it’s not our house and so we have to give them the respect that they deserve.”
One look at the video is a perfect reminder.
It’s not clear if the bear will have to be euthanized. Weale hopes it doesn’t come to that, adding “other people can learn from my mistake.”