Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Bears, Cougers & Critters...Oh My!

I went to go visit my brother in Vancouver a while back...we decided to go hiking in Minnekada Park, the park where my husband got down on his knee and proposed to me. The proposal took place on a rocky bluff overlooking the beautiful marshy lake pictured above.
Many years ago I lived in Vancouver and I use to go hiking in this park every other day...I felt so at home there and not once in all those years did I have a direct bear encounter...never say never!

We got to the park and I had to wait (as usual) for my Brother Jeff to unload his Camera gear...(My brother can't go anywhere without his Camera and his very large and heavy pack full of multiple lens etc. etc. We start down the trail and as soon as we round the corner we run into a mother Black Bear and her cub...she turned around when she spied us and started walking the other way..."Oh good" we say...we can keep going"...so we did. Then she turned around again and started heading back our way..."Oh poo" we said...we turned around and started going back the way we came. This went on for a few minutes...meanwhile my brother is sweating buckets from wildlife photo fever...he is soooo excited to get a chance to take some pics of these two (He's a city slicker and not used to seeing these critters).
I am unwittingly relegated to camera assistant, being told to hand him this and that lens for this and that type of shot. Meanwhile mama bear is getting closer and closer and I am starting to pee my pants. Jefferson I say...it is time to high tail it outta here..."one more shot", he says...I looked at him and then back at the bears and I promptly turned around and ran down the trail...calling Jeff's name plus a few other colorful words I can't repeat here. Finally my big brother comes huffing and puffing down the trail sweating buckets and saying that was freaking awesome...that was freaking awesome!
 So we decide to go down another trail when we run into some folks who say there is a big black bear down that there as well. This pretty much puts an end to my plan of visiting the bluff where my husband proposed to me...we are now to spooked to carry on so we head back to the car and out of the park.
 We are just driving out of the park entrance when we see some park wardens blocking the road...just beyond we see a bird on the roadway playing the part of an injured bird. It is limping and acting like it has been injured. We can't go any further and I look over at Jeff who again has that glazed look of wildlife photo fever. I relent so we step out of the car to see what the commotion is. Lucky for us we get an up close and personal glimpse of a couple of rare Sandhill Cranes. The bird on the roadway was acting injured as a way to draw our attention away from it's nest. These are birds most folks will may never get to see in their lifetime so we felt quite privileged to witness their interesting behavior, bird calls and nesting activities. Even though we couldn't get that close Jeff was in his glory and still managed to get a few shots.
We both had a great week-end together and I know Jeff will treasure these wildlife encounter's.
Meanwhile within a few days of getting back home to Gibsons  we got a knock on our door from a neighbor who says that a cougar has just killed a deer in the yard adjacent to ours. Oh Joy...NOT! I look at little Jasper and say to him...your grounded for awhile. Our yard is fenced but that is definitely not a barrier to a cougar. We then heard that the police were called to come see what could be done...remove the deer, relocate the cougar?
Within a few minutes of getting to the site of the deer kill the police got a call about a bear that had entered the kitchen of a women who lives down the road from us...mercy me...what is going on in these here parts! We never did hear what happened to that bear but I do know that the next day the cougar killed another deer and so it was deemed dangerous and had to be humanely euthanized. I hate sad endings like this...human safety was put first as this big cat seemed to have no fear of humans and was deemed to dangerous to let live.
I truly love living here on such a wild coast...being surrounded by rain forest and wildlife is truly a privilege...but with this privilege comes responsibility to respect this land and its inhabitants...drama is never far away and sometimes it can land right on your doorstep!

P.S. My brother took the first five photos in this post and the rest were gleaned from Google images.

 Bear Hugs 

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