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Conservation officers will not capture bears involved in Squamish attacks

Authorities will keep the estuary trails closed until further notice.

The Sea to Sky Conservation Officer Service announced it will not catch two bears that were involved in two separate attacks against two people on the estuary trail yesterday.

“It was decided that we will not try to capture those bears at the time involved in the attack,” said Sgt. Simon Gravel on Nov. 4.

“We have to understand it was a surprise attack. It was also a defensive-type behaviour in a wilderness area in a place where we want wildlife.” 

Gravel said that in the meantime, authorities will keep the Squamish Estuary trail network closed until further notice.

He said there was no indication the attacks were prompted by the presence of food, nor was there any evidence the animals have come to associate humans with food.

Authorities have gone to the site of the attack and are trying to understand contributing factors. At the moment, no conclusions have been made.

Gravel noted, however, there was no fault on the part of the women who were attacked. They did not have any food on them.

As was reported on Nov. 3, there were two different incidents involving the same sow and yearling cub. 

Two separate women were attacked in two separate cases within the span of an hour on Thursday.

Both women were alone on the Sea to Sky Estuary Trail, Gravel said. 

The first was a runner, while the second was walking the very popular trail. 

Both women will be OK, Gravel said. 

The first woman sustained a bite and scratches from the sow. 

The second woman was clawed on her face by the yearling. 

A yearling is a cub of one year old or more. Cubs can stay with their mother for up to two years. 

While these incidents involved a sow and one cub, there have been many reports of a sow and three cubs in that area, Gravel said. 

Barricades and signage have been placed at all entrances of the estuary to keep the public from entering. 

Gravel said the bears may be stressed, and so to protect both them and the public, it is imperative folks stay clear of the area.

This is a difficult time for black bears. They are looking for their last meal of the season, Gravel said, noting drought conditions this fall that impacted available food. 

He added there are several different bears in the area in and around the estuary. 

The closure is in place until further notice. 

Report wildlife sightings and/or encounters to the BC Conservation Officer Service 24-hour hotline at 1-877-952-7277 (RAPP).

Please note that this story has been updated as the story developed. 

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