UPDATE: Wednesday, Nov. 6, 9:00 a.m.
As of this morning, the trail in James White Park has been reopened. After receiving confirmation by Conservation Officers, the City lifted all signage.
UPDATE: Tuesday, Nov. 5, 9:45 a.m.
As of Tuesday morning, the trail in James White Park remains closed.
According to the City of Fernie, operations staff are awaiting further direction from the Conservation Officer Service before re-opening the trail. At this point in time, the signage remains in place to notify the public of the trail closure.
UPDATE: Oct. 31, 11:20 a.m.
An adult black bear showing signs of hibernation near a trail in James White Park has prompted the closure of the area for the next two days.
On Wednesday, Conservation Officers (CO’s) received a call about a black bear in the park hunkering down by a trail in the park. Patrolling the area in their vehicles, CO’s could not spot the bear. Another call from the public shortly after reported a bear by the single track trail near the Elk River, close to the tennis courts.
Officers have no history with this specific bear, and Conservation Officer Patricia Burley explained that they have had no recent aggression calls in relation to black bears. Assessing the behaviour of the bear themselves, CO’s noted that the bear appeared to be very docile and dopey, an indication he was ready to hibernate. Close to a nearby tree was a bed the bear had dug for himself, and numerous piles of scat.
Not threatened by calls or yelling, CO’s scared the animal away with bear bangers and rubber bullets. When the bear left, CO’s noted it to be healthy with no injuries.
Since scaring him away, there have been no signs of the bear returning to the area. However, CO’s decided to close the trail for two days as a safety measure.
As an aside, Burley reminded residents to obey the bylaw and keep their dogs on leash, especially when bears are in the area. When CO’s were about to the haze the black bear in James White Park, a woman rounded the corner on a trail, pushing a chariot, with two dogs off leash. The dogs rushed the bear, and came within feet of it. Burley said this almost turned into a very dangerous situation.
This black bear is one of approximately eight currently roaming Fernie’s residential areas.
Burley explained that bears are currently on the move, trying to find a spot to hunker down for the winter. However, if they have accessible food sources available to them, they will stay up. In the Ridgemont area, a black bear has been reported in a bin accessing garbage for three nights in a row.
The Free Press previously reported a bear accessing garbage near Fernie Secondary School.
As of this morning, Burley had issued three Dangerous Wildlife Protection Orders (DWPO’s), an order to clean up and manage attractants. If people do not comply with this order, it turns into a $575 ticket.
The three DWPO’s issued this morning were in the Ridgemont, Airport and West Fernie area, where each had a bear reported last night.
Under the wildlife act, it is a violation to have an attractant out, and could result in fines. To report an attractant anonymously, call the RAPP line 1 877 952-7277 (RAPP) or #7277 to report environmental violations of immediate nature.
The presence of ‘dangerous wildlife’ has closed the trail in Fernie’s James White Park for at least the next two days, according to a post by the City of Fernie, Thursday morning.
The City says they are working with the Conservation Officer Service, and is asking the public to respect signage and barricades, and stay out of the area.
This story will be updated as more information becomes available.