Dumpster-divin’ bear

The dumpster-diving black bear discovered in downtown Vancouver Monday got a reprieve from being euthanized – but may not survive in the wild, says a conservation officer.

The 45-kilogram, 18-month-old juvenile was tranquilized Monday afternoon after hitching a ride on a garbage truck from North Vancouver. Bret Dougherty, owner of MiniBins, said muddy paw prints on the truck proved the bear had clambered aboard on the North Shore, and not climbed directly into a downtown dumpster as he had first thought.

The bear was relocated to a compound at Mt. Seymour overnight before it was released Tuesday afternoon on Upper Squamish Valley Road – approximately 120 kilometres north of Vancouver.

But conservation officer Simon Gravel said it’s uncertain whether the young bear will survive due to a diminishing food supply at this time of year and the presence of other adult black bears.

“It’s not guaranteed that the bear will be released there and be happy,” Mr. Gravel said. “The other option was to destroy him, but we wanted to give him a chance.”

Conservation officers selected a location – close to a source of fish – that would at least offer it a fighting chance.

Between April and December, officers have received more than 3,000 calls about black bears on the North Shore. As a result, 11 bears have been destroyed and more than a dozen tranquilized and relocated.

Relocated bears are marked with yellow ear tags the size of a toonie, Mr. Gravel said. He said it is becoming more common for bears to roam repeatedly into populated areas.

“In North Vancouver there’s garbage year-round,” he said, “so it’s very common to see bears very late in the fall and very early in the spring.”