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Thousands sign petition to relocate Coquitlam Crunch bear seen swatting at jogger

Click to play video 'Trap in place after frightening black bear encounter on Coquitlam Crunch trail' Trap in place after frightening black bear encounter on Coquitlam Crunch trail
Area residents are calling on Conservation Officers to spare the bear that was seen on video involved in a close encounter with a runner. – Aug 31, 2020

Thousands of people have signed a petition giving their opinion about the fate of a black bear seen on the Coquitlam Crunch trail last weekend.

The petition, signed by more than 6,300 people, asks the Conservation Officer Service not to euthanize the bear but to relocate it.

So far, the bear has not been caught and conservation officer Murray Smith told Global News last week that he hopes the bear has now moved up the mountain.

Navneet Jha, who started the petition, lives in Ontario but told Global News he is very interested in wildlife conservation. After reading a story from Nova Scotia about a crow that was killed by conservation officers and then seeing the news about the bear in Coquitlam, Jha said “it had to be brought up among the people and decision-makers, to stop the bear from being another victim in the name of conservation.”

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Click to play video 'Woman has close encounter with Black Bear on Coquitlam Crunch trail' Woman has close encounter with Black Bear on Coquitlam Crunch trail
Woman has close encounter with Black Bear on Coquitlam Crunch trail – Aug 30, 2020

The video of the encounter, on Aug. 30, between a black bear and a jogger, went viral as the bear could be seen walking out of the bushes along the trail, approaching a woman and pawing at her.

The bear then jumped back, before approaching the woman again. The woman then turned and ran from the animal.

Jha told Global News the jogger should have stayed away from the bear and added perhaps more education is needed in areas where wildlife interactions are more likely.

“Incidents like this can be prevented if we could be a bit more aware and respectful of our surroundings,” Jha said in an email interview.

The Coquitlam Crunch is set to be reopened Tuesday if there are no more sightings of the bear.

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Read more: Section of Coquitlam Crunch closed after bear filmed swatting at jogger

Following the euthanization of a black bear on the North Shore last week, Smith told Global News despite public perception, a very low number of calls to officials actually result in a decision to euthanize a bear.

This year in Metro Vancouver, the Conservation Officer Service has received about 3,400 calls and euthanized 34 bears.

“The jogger in Coquitlam was very fortunate,” Smith said. “That could have been a much worse situation.

“As long as we don’t have any more reports and sightings, we’ll reopen the trail to the public.”