Conservation officers say they don’t plan to capture a pair of bears that attacked two women Thursday in Squamish, B.C., saying the incidents appear defensive in nature.
Sgt. Simon Gravel of the B.C. Conservation Officer Service says the attacks occurred about an hour apart, but are believed to involve the same sow and her yearling.
The Squamish Estuary trail network, a conservation area next to the mountain community’s downtown centre about 60 kilometres north of Vancouver, will be closed until further notice.
Gravel says an investigation suggests the bears reacted out of surprise, with the sow attacking a woman in one case and the young bear instigating the other.
Both women were pushed to the ground and scratched, and one woman was also bitten, but Gravel says the injuries are believed to be minor and full recoveries are expected.
He says bears are stressed at this time of year, as they seek food ahead of denning, which is expected in a few weeks as the weather cools.
“It’s a very unfortunate situation. It is a good reminder that we live among wildlife and we have to be aware of our surroundings,” Gravel says.
The service recommends making noise when running or walking trails, avoiding going alone and keeping dogs on leashes.
Officers will continue regular sweeps of the area to monitor the bears, Gravel says.
The attacks follow a period of prolonged drought that affected salmon runs across British Columbia. Lack of food could increase aggressive behaviour, but Gravel says it’s difficult to make a definitive connection with many factors at play.
He also says more bears have been reported in Squamish this year, which could intensify territorial behaviour.
“I cannot tell you one specific factor that will be ultimately responsible for those attacks.”