A local dog is on the mend after an encounter with a bear that left a bite mark on the canine’s hind.
According to Elk Valley conservation officer (CO) Patricia Burley, the incident occurred around 11:30 a.m. on Thursday (May 12).
It happened around the What’s Up Doc and lower Roxy Roller trails, off the track and in the trees.
Burley said the dog was off-leash and provoked the bear.
“The dog sustained injuries from the bear, which was a bite mark to its hind.”
She said the dog’s owner yelled to retrieve the dog, not knowing what was there, and confirmed that a bear came out and did a huffed up bluff charge.
Burley could not confirm whether it was a grizzly or a black bear, but said it could have been a grizzly bear, and so they want to promote extra caution and safety for people in the area.
“The dog owner and the dog were able to be re-united and the dog is recovering from its injuries. So that’s the good news.”
The City of Fernie confirmed in a Facebook post that the Cemetery Bypass trail is closed for five days at the request of the CO.
Burley said the bear could have had a kill in the area they were defending.
In case there is a kill site there, she said, interactions with people or pets should be avoided. She recommended a five to seven day trail closure, as that is usually a safe amount of time for a bear to consume its feed.
From a CO perspective, she said the bear acted naturally in a defensive mode.
“People just have to be prepared and aware of their surroundings, and carry bear spray, make a lot of noise, keep dogs on leash.”
While this was the first incident of the season in the area involving a bear and a pet, she said the COs have had calls about bears in garbage, which is an attractant for dangerous wildlife alongside things like bird feeders and pet food.
“Black bears are in town, and getting into garbage, and that’s unacceptable. It’s a violation under the Wildlife Act to have any attractant available for dangerous wildlife.”
Burley said that if people see black or grizzly bears exhibiting aggressive behaviour, to call the RAPP line immediately at 1-877-952-7277.
She said the situation will be monitored, and hoped that people will respect the bear’s space, that he will move on in time, and that they have prevented any more close calls.
“Black bear or grizzly, we want to give them space and time, and respect.”