A bear chased two mountain bikers on the Coal Discovery Trail on Saturday, July 20. One biker used pepper spray on the light brown coloured black bear causing the animal to back down. The bikers retreated with the bear and two cubs in pursuit.
The two bikers had just cycled past Loose Change and were approaching the Little Chain Ring intersection. They had just finished riding Porky Blue Trail and were cycling back the last five km to Fernie when they cycled around a corner and encountered two black bear cubs on the trail.
The cyclist’s dog barked, the cubs cried and the mother bear stood straight up and then charged. One cyclist had bear spray in his front pocket and instantly discharging it in the bear’s direction. The sow ran through the cloud and took a full blast in her face near his front tire. She reversed direction but turned to attack again as he dropped his bike and retreated down the trail. With two cyclists and a dog staring back at her, the sow chased her cubs up a tree.
The cyclists backtracked towards Loose Change and up to Ridgemont Road. The cyclist said it was unusual for him to have the bear spray in his pocket as it’s usually buried in his pack. Recent bear events around Fernie had him thinking about bears so he wore hiking shorts that had a pocket for the pepper spray. These bear encounters happen fast.
Mountain biker’s speed and quietness put them at greater risk for sudden encounters with wildlife and other trail users. WildSafeBC suggests bikers make noise to avoid surprising wildlife and other trail users at close range, travel in groups and carry bear spray.
“Incidents like this need to be reported to the Conservation Officer Service (COS),” said Conservation Officer Patricia Burley. “Human and wildlife interactions and injured wildlife should be reported immediately to COS by calling 1-877-952-7277.”
A large black bear was also seen on Ecoterrorist trail in Ridgemont and bears have been spotted accessing unsecured garbage on Brickers Road.
Cougars, bears and moose pass through community’s green belts regularly. It’s when wildlife starts hanging out day after day that pose a safety concern. Food attractants such as garbage, pet food and barbeques can keep an animal from moving on.
For more info on wildlife safety visit http://www.wildsafebc.com.