A popular Strathcona Park backcountry campground remains closed this week.
The main Bedwell Lakes campground was closed on Aug. 30 due to a habituated bear spending time in the area.
The decision was made jointly by the BC Conservation Officer Service and BC Parks.
“This was a precautionary action due to a black bear frequenting the site and not displaying any signs of fear towards park visitors,” said the BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change in an emailed response to Campbell River Mirror questions. “While the bear appears content on feeding on berries in and around the campsite, its lack of fear of humans and confidence in moving through the campsite, could lead to potential conflict and therefore, the campsite was closed for public safety to allow the bear to move out of the area.”
Hiker Wendy Harrison Deveaux and her husband were staying at one of the backcountry campground’s 12 sites late last week.
She said she was sleeping lightly Friday morning when she heard the neighbour’s dog make a small “woof.”
“I have some experience with bears and my instinct told me the dog could smell something,” she said.
Harrison Deveaux poked her head out of their tent and saw a bear approaching their site from over a small ridge about 20 feet away.
“I grabbed a camping pot and banged it against the wooden camping pad,” she said. “The bear was startled and ran back over the ridge.”
She said her husband got up a little later and saw the bear just over the ridge eating blueberries.
“He definitely was not concerned about being so close to people,” she said.
The ministry said the bear has been hanging around the campsite area, feeding on berries, but that there’s no indication it has gotten into any human food or garbage.
“Park visitors are good at using the provided bear-proof food caches and keeping campsite clean,” it said.
If a trip in the area is part of your plan, BC Parks recommends staying at the Baby Bedwell campground, which is about 45 minutes before the main Bedwell Lakes campground. Cream Lake, which is beyond the main Bedwell Lakes site is still open to wilderness camping, but there are no facilites in the area.
To help avoid animal conflicts while camping in the backcountry, BC Parks recommends keeping all food and other attractants away from tents and secured in food caches. Campsites should be kept clean and pets should remain on leashes.
More information about wildlife encounters while hiking can be found here.
The ministry said that the main Bedwell Lake campground would remain closed for at least a week. The closure will be re-evaluated next week.