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Campbell River man welcomes black bears to backyard

CAMPBELL RIVER, B.C. – There’s something ‘bruin’ in Dave Baar’s backyard.

Baar and his family live in the Holly Hills area just north of Campbell River and lately, their backyard has become a popular thoroughfare for the neighbourhood’s resident black bears.

The bears have become so common, in fact, that Baar nearly gave one a pat on the back.

On Sept. 25, he approached what he thought was the family’s 14-year-old dog, a retriever mix that has thick black fur and a white muzzle, quite similar to one of the bears that frequents the neighbourhood.

Baar reflected on the Sept. 25 close encounter.

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“The bear was in the line of sight that I would normally expect the dog to be in,” Baar shared. “I actually went out to pet what I thought was the dog, and it turned out to be the bear. Of course I didn’t pet it.”

The family’s home is near a woodlot and also backs onto a ravine, and since moving there six years ago, they have noticed that especially in the late summer and early fall, bears would commonly traverse through their yard.

Baar figures the bears are en route to the river to feed on salmon.

The home is equipped with cameras, although the photos Baar recently posted online of the bears were done “pretty much (with) pro telephoto equipment done manually,” he said.

“So we’ve got a record of this particular bear coming through our yard since June,” he added. “We thought at first it was just a lone bear, possibly a juvenile… because it’s a fairly small one. We think it might be between two or three years old, possibly between 2(00)-or-300 pounds, probably.”

The camera system also captured a mother bear and two cubs come through the yard at night, as well as the aforementioned lone bear sitting and possibly resting in the yard.

And last Friday at roughly 4:00 p.m., Baar saw the mother bear and her two cubs lying down in the yard.

Baar lives in a typical neighbourhood on Chum Road, and he and his neighbours  are used to the occasional presence of bears.

But not quite like this.

Rather than notifying BC Conservation, Baar is letting the bears do their thing, hoping that they’ll hibernate soon.

“We’re giving these bears a chance,” he said. “So far to our knowledge, they haven’t been causing any major problems or anything. We’re just letting them be for now and try not to disturb them.”

Baar said it’s worth reinforcing to put your garbage out before 7:00 a.m. the day of pickup.

“It (garbage) makes the bears more habituated to being near human homes and so on,” he said. “One of the key precautions is about garbage.”

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