A bevy of available food sources and an ever-increasing audience left a two-year-old bear stranded and looking for refuge in a Port Coquitlam backyard for the better part of Tuesday and Wednesday.
The incident began Tuesday morning, when Raleigh Street resident Tamara McPhee went to take her dog for a walk and came across the black bear about four metres away from her.
"He was panting like crazy and it looked like something was wrong with him. He started to get brave, got a little closer and he stood up and gave a grunt at us," she recalled.
When she returned from work at 3 p.m. that day, the bear was still in the backyard. McPhee then called the Conservation Service, which eventually tried tranquillizing the bear.
However, the bear was about 35 feet up a cedar tree estimated to be more than 100 feet in height, a distance that was too high for officers to get a clear shot at.
The bear was still there when McPhee returned home from work around 1 p.m. on Wednesday, but by that point, a number of people had convened on the backyard to get a better look.
"There were so many of them standing around trying to get a good look at him while he was still lying on the ground," she said.
Conservation officers returned to the scene Wednesday, though in the midst of the chaos - by this point, TV crews had joined the curious onlookers - the bear escaped into a nearby greenbelt.
"He came down while everybody had their backs turned and disappeared along the creek and back up into the larger greenbelts where I'm sure he's seeking refuge [on Thursday]," said Sgt. Josh Lockwood of the Conservation Service.
According to Lockwood, the bear was about two years old and weighed somewhere between 70 and 100 pounds. It's believed the bear was initially scared up the tree by a neighbourhood dog.
Lockwood also noted that garbage cans and compost bins were noticeable near the scene. The assorted cast of onlookers didn't help either.
"People were constantly coming around with the cameras flashing, and then the news showed up and it created a bear in a circus," he said, adding the bear did not appear to be injured.
"The only stress was the fact he was being ogled over by the public."
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