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Strike a paws: Backyard bear becomes subject of B.C. photoshoot

At first, Eric Koch thought the bear was a prank. "I thought it was a stuffed bear," he says.

When Eric Koch stepped out on his backyard patio on the afternoon of Sept. 13, he was startled by what he discovered. 

“I was heading out into the yard to water my plants,” he recalls. 

There, in front of him, was a "big, huge, giant" bear that he thought was fake at first.

“I thought it was a stuffed bear. I thought somebody was pranking me,” he tells Glacier Media. “Until it moved.”

To his surprise, a large black bear was enjoying his Port Coquitlam backyard and had zero plans to leave. Koch quickly took out his camera to document the close encounter with his new visitor, who stuck around for five hours minding his own business. 

“It was an adrenaline rush because I was excited for him to be that close, I wasn’t scared,” he says. “It was just excitement.”

Koch was able to take some incredibly up-close photographs of the bear and captured the docile behaviours of the large animal. He documented the bear looking into the lens, the bear's paws, his lack of teeth, him lying down enjoying the grass and even the bear peeing on himself. 

“He looked like he was drunk,” he says. “He was well fed."

Koch says a nearby neighbour was concerned about the bear and contacted conservation officers, who removed the animal from the property.

He took to Facebook to share the photographs, which received more than 1,300 shares and almost 800 comments. 

“I am surprised at the amount of comments and likes that I’ve gotten on this.” 

While he’s thankful for the experience, he is concerned about the welfare of the animals as they’re getting closer to humans. 

“They’re getting too habituated with people and I think maybe the authorities should crack down,” he says. 

Koch often takes his scooter down to Minnekhada Regional Park where lots of bears come out to eat blueberries. There are signs asking people to stay away from the bears, but Koch says because the bears cannot read they do come closer to people. 

“We have to give them their space,” he says. 

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