Carolyn Grant – Kimberley Daily Bulletin
In what Conservation Officer Jared Connatty says should be a wake up call to everyone, a grizzly bear was shot in a home on the edge of Kimberley early Sunday morning, Aug. 9.
Mark and Niki Traverse were awoken at 4:30 a.m. on Sunday to noises in their kitchen and found a grizzly bear eating dog food.
“We have an air conditioner in the bedroom and it drowns out any sound,” said Niki Traverse. “But our dog was going nuts. He’s just a little dog, about 20 pounds, but he was outside the bedroom door barking the house down.
“I got up to check. Mark stayed in bed. He just said, don’t let the dog out, because there are coyotes.
“I came around the corner to the entry way where we have the cat and dog food. I see this huge black mass. I booked it back to the bedroom screaming, ‘There’s a bear in the house!’ Mark’s like, ‘Really?’. ‘Yeah, really.’
“We have a gun cabinet in the bedroom, so Mark unlocked the gun.
“He came out and turned on the kitchen light. As soon as he turned on the lights the bear came out into the kitchen, straight toward my husband.
“Thank God I didn’t turn on the light when I checked, that would have been bad.
“The bear was 10 feet away and Mark took a shot. He came another three to four feet and Mark took another shot. It was down but still moving. We didn’t want it moving, so Mark took another shot.”
Niki sums the experience up this way.
“It was pretty damn scary. I was freaking out but my husband is a hunter. We’re the only house on the block with a gun (a Weatherby 300). I guess the bear picked the wrong house.”
Connatty says the bear pulled apart the window and got through about a three foot by two foot space. The bear also broke the screen door, but its access to the house was through the window.
“The family woke up, heard a noise and found the bear feeding on dog food. Fortunately they had a firearm in the bedroom and shot the bear right in the kitchen.
“It’s a pretty remarkable story because that bear was obviously in the house for some time. They were pretty lucky. An encounter with a bear in an enclosed area is a super high safety concern. When a bear breaks into a home, the chance of contact is extremely high.”
The Traverse family were managing their attractants, Connatty said.
“The dog food was in a sealed container, everything, including garbage, was inside the house,” he said. “These people were doing everything right. They had the gun stored properly, everything was done properly.”
For a bear to get to the point of breaking into a house, it’s been rewarded for this behaviour before, the CO says.
“These people were managing their attractants, but obviously at some point someone wasn’t, and this bear learned from it.”
“We did one thing wrong,” Niki said. “I left a window open. I’ve lived in this house since 1991 and we always leave a window open when it’s hot. Not anymore. I’ll never do that again.”
Connatty says the bear was not in great shape.
“He was definitely on a downward slide. It could be he’d been pushed out of his territory by another big grizzly boar, but it could also be the bear was hungry because it’s a very poor berry year. You could speculate until you’re blue in the face.”
“It wasn’t in great shape,” Niki said. “The CO said by the size of its teeth, he figured it was at least 10 years old. But it was skinny and I thought a 10-year old grizzly would be bigger than that.
This is a good reminder to everyone, that especially with berries poor this year because of the drought, attractants have to be managed carefully from now right through to November.
“That means garbage, fruit trees, dog food,” Connatty said. “In town the fruit trees seem to be doing well, but in the upper drainages the berries are not so good.”
If you have a human wildlife encounter you are asked to call the RAPP line at 1-877-952-7277. That will get you in touch with a conservation officer. However, in an emergency situation, it’s best to go through 911.