Golden Ears Provincial Park will reopen Wednesday morning after a habituated black bear seen accessing vehicles for food and trying to enter a tent with people inside, was captured and killed.
The park was closed to visitors and the campgrounds were evacuated on Tuesday, June 14, after it was determined that the actions of the black bear posed a danger to the public.
David Karn, spokesperson for the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, explained that the bear was getting into attractants within the campground and that behaviour escalated into accessing vehicles for food.
BC Parks and the Conservation Officer Services worked together last week to try and capture the animal, partially closing Gold Creek Campground, and setting traps – but to no avail. The bear, noted Karn, moved on looking for food at the North Beach and Alouette campgrounds.
In one incident, he said, the bear attempted to walk through an open trailer door while people were inside.
Over the weekend the bear attempted to enter a tent, also with people inside.
This morning, BC Parks staff observed the bear attempting to access a vehicle.
“Bears that are food-conditioned to non-natural food sources are not candidates for relocation or rehabilitation, due to the risk to public safety,” said the ministry spokesperson.
Karn noted that efforts to manage the situation included public education and outreach with the help of the park operator, WildSafeBC, and the Maple Ridge Black Bear Society – to impress upon the public the importance of securing attractants to keep bears at bay.
“It is the single best way to keep the public, and bears, safe. When attractants are not secured it results in bears becoming food-conditioned. Sadly, a fed bear is a dead bear,” said Karn.
Park operations manager Stu Burgess said park staff were at the main entrance all day on Tuesday, making sure vehicles were not entering. Less than 100 vehicles had come to the entrance by 3 p.m., he said, and most people were very understanding of the situation.
The park will re-open at 7 a.m. on Wednesday, June 15, and will once again be available to campers through the reservation service.
During the crisis, Karn said, park operators ensured the safety of all campers within the affected campgrounds. And, he said refunds will be provided to campers affected by the closure for the remaining portion of their reservations.
People who were scheduled to arrive during the closure were given full refunds for those dates.
BC Parks is making every effort to find and reinstate accommodation for people affected by the cancellations, which, according to standard practice when it comes to closures to do with the health and safety of guests, is to cancel the entire stay for those with arrival dates falling within the cancellation.
This practice is being reviewed, said Karn, in the context of the present circumstances and in the interest of continuous improvement.
Campers with cancelled reservations are being contacted to let them know of their options, said Karn.
Reservations for arrivals beyond the closure dates are being honoured.
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