File photo of a bear that had to be put down after entering a yard in Courtenay in 2015.

Comox Samaritan covers bear with blanket, gets a big surprise

Conservation officer says person lucky after animal hit by car in record year for bear encounters

Someone with good intentions was in for a surprise Tuesday when they happened upon a motionless bear lying on Anderton Road in Comox.

The conservation service said the bear had been struck by a vehicle at 1239 Anderton, near the entrance to the Park at Crown Isle golf course.

“Whoever struck it carried on and didn’t stop, which is somewhat troubling,” CO James Hilgemann said. “The bear just kind of lay there in shock. I’m not sure who threw the towel on it, or blanket. They must have thought it was dead. As soon as they placed the blanket on it, it jumped up and limped into the wooded area. It was definitely favouring one leg.”

RELATED: Bears have killed 17 people in B.C. since 1986

His office received a call about the incident at 12:38 p.m. Hilgemann said a man working at the golf course saw the bear run onto the property, and could hear it crashing in the bush.

“I went out there as soon as I could. When I first spoke to him, he said it limped but it was on all fours and mobile, so typically we wouldn’t attend. But about an hour later I got another call from him saying he thought he heard it in the bush, and sounded like it was stationary and breathing heavily…I walked the wooded area and didn’t see it. Didn’t see any blood. It had moved on. You could see some bear scat on the trail. It was definitely being used by bears. It’s a natural corridor for them.”

The office hasn’t fielded further calls since Tuesday.

“They’re tough animals,” Hilgemann said. “I think he was in shock, got the wind knocked out of him, that’s why he was motionless. Lucky person whoever it was that covered it up. It could have been nasty.”

Hilgemann said bear sightings have spiked this season in Comox, Courtenay and Campbell River.

“It’s probably one of the worst years so far,” he said. “A combination of things. Basically, people not being responsible for attractants. Bears show up, they get a couple of feeds and then they’re hooked. And they just don’t move on.

“We’re at the point where we’re just trying to trap a few of the key bears, because they’re habituated. It’s a learned behaviour, they’re not going to stop. It’s risky, they’ve lost their fear of humans.”

He said garbage remains the number one problem.

“A lot of people don’t want to get up at seven in the morning to drag their garbage curbside. That’s a big part of it.”

Wildlife sightings can be reported at 1-877-952-7277.

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