A Quadra Island farmer first noticed something was up when one of his goats was missing on Monday morning.
Ben McGuffie operates the SouthEnd Farm Winery on the island. His Monday started like any other. But after 9 a.m., when he noticed one of his goats was not in the pen where it should have been, his day took a turn.
“We spent most of the day looking through the woods, myself, my wife, my children, all sorts of neighbours and their children, all walking through the woods and trying to find the missing goat,” McGuffie said. “We gave up towards the end of the day and hope that she had just kind of wandered off and would come back, which would have been highly unusual.”
It wasn’t until nightfall when he found out what had happened.
“Around 9:50 p.m. or so we noticed our two other goats were acting strangely. They took off from where they usually stand, so I got out of bed and stuck my head out the door to see what was going on. I noticed one of the goats was running very fast through the pen and something large and brown was behind it,” he said.
“I jumped out, my wife Jill was right behind me. We grabbed whatever was at hand and went out and yelled at it. One of the goats came through the pen and came past us on the far side of the fence. The bear followed it along. It did stop when we yelled at it, it didn’t run away. It wasn’t until I actually threw a rock at it and hit it that it ran off.”
The grizzly bear has been spotted on the island for around a month now, but this is the first time it has threatened or attacked any livestock or people on the island. Quadra Island hasn’t traditionally been grizzly bear territory but is in the vicinity of North Island bear sightings that are becoming more frequent in recent years.
The B.C. Conservation Officer Service said they are aware of the bear, and that the bear has travelled to the more populated areas of the island. They were at the winery on Tuesday, McGuffie said, where they set up a live trap and some game cameras, hoping to catch the animal.
“They came over first thing in the morning, had a look around and tried to find the missing goat, thinking it would lead them to the bear,” McGuffie said. “Now we just have to wait for the bear to reappear. We haven’t seen it, haven’t seen any posts on social media from people who have. It’s quite possibly sitting on the remains of our goat, finishing that off, sadly.”
The Conservation Officer Service is consulting with provincial wildlife biologists to determine the proper course of action once and if the bear is caught. In the meantime, they are asking the public to ensure their property is free of attractants and livestock is kept under lock and key.
“People should also ensure they do not walk their pets off-leash and they always take the appropriate precautions when walking on trails,” they added.
McGuffie, who has lived on the property since the 1970s, said this is the first time he has seen a bear near his home.
“We may get one black bear every year or two down on this end, but they typically stick close to the shore and wouldn’t come up even this far.”