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Bear warning issued for Walnut Grove

Walnut Grove resident Bayley Schmidt, 13, took this picture of a bear wandering through her neighbourhood on Friday, August 12. - Supplied
Walnut Grove resident Bayley Schmidt, 13, took this picture of a bear wandering through her neighbourhood on Friday, August 12.
— image credit: Supplied

It was a fine Friday afternoon (Aug. 12) around 5:30 p.m. and Bayley Schmidt and her friend Cheyenne Rupert were in a hurry to get to a local park when the 13-year-old friends dashed out of the Schmidt house and through the gate.

Bayley saw it first and came to a sudden halt in the driveway as she called a warning to Cheyenne.

"There's a bear," Schmidt said.

It was a black bear, a cub slightly less than waist-height, ambling slowly down the street.

"It was just kind of wandering," Bayley told The Times.

The Walnut Grove Secondary student had seen bears before on family camping trips in the Shuswap.

She knew what to do. Her parents had taught her not to scream or run.

But she wasn't expecting to all but bump into a bear in the urban residential neighbourhood near 98 Avenue and 203 Street where she lives.

So the two teens may have yelled a little and they may have run a little faster than they should, reversing up the driveway and back through the gate.

Then Schmidt grabbed a camera and took some pictures from a safe distance as the bear continued its stroll through the neighbourhood, heading toward a narrow wooded strip of land between some townhouses and some industrial development where it disappeared.

There was an unconfirmed report that the smaller bear was seen with another, bigger bruin, possibly its mother.

As far as anyone can tell, it was the very first time a bear of any size has been seen in the area.

"We've been here 20 years [without seeing one]." said Bayley's mother Leona Schmidt.

Langley RCMP and the BC Conservation Officer Service said the bear was last seen around 2 p.m. on Sunday near the 20600 block of 87 Avenue.

"He has been seen multiple times over the last few days and there have been no reports to date that the bear has been aggressive," an RCMP written release stated.

Residents on local trails "should be aware of their surroundings" the statement added.

If you spot the bear, contact either Langley RCMP at 604-532-3200 or the BC Conservation Officer Service at 1-800-663-9453.

Here are some tips to keep bears away, courtesy of the RCMP and bear awareness groups:

• Keep garbage secured in the house, garage or shed until pick-up day and return the containers to the secure site once they are emptied.

• Pick ripe and fallen fruit daily and remove any unused fruit trees.

• Use bird feeders only in winter.

• Keep the ground free of seeds and nuts or treats for the squirrels and other wildlife, as food is plentiful for them at this time of year.

• Clean the barbecue grill after each use. The smell of salmon or meat wafting from a grill for hours will draw bears. Store barbecues covered in a secure area.

• Bring pet food dishes inside, store the food inside and don’t leave spillage lying around.

• Don’t add meat products or uncooked food to compost, and turn it regularly and keep it covered.

If a bear is threatening, persistent or aggressive, call the Report All Poachers hotline toll free at 1-877-952-RAPP(7277) or visit their website at www.rapp.bc.ca.

For more information on bears and bear-human conflicts visit www.env.gov.bc.ca/wld/bearsmart/bearsmintro.html

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