Black Bear Encounter on Sidewalk in Coquitlam BC

Sunday morning finds me like most mornings, out for my daily walk. Rain or shine I try to get in an hour of exercise by walking some of the local trails and for me Hoy Creek Trail is fairly convenient as it runs parallel to you guessed it, Hoy Creek.

Hoy Creek is a nice little salmon bearing creek that runs down from the local hills that eventually spills into that empties in to the Coquitlam River before it flows in to the mighty Fraser River. Naturally all of these rivers have nice networks of trails that form some of this city’s fantastic green belts which generally begin up in the mountains. Just like in most places mountains mean wild life and wild life means predators are out and about looking for prey and these green belts bring them right in to the heart of many neighborhoods in their search for food.

Fortunately these predators are more interested in the easy food stuffs lying around in the form of garbage than us and our pets but it does put us in contact with them from time to time. Sure we lose the occasional pet to a coyote or two. Every once in a while you hear about an eagle or some bird of prey swooping down and snatching somebody’s idea of a dog up but generally speaking, most wild life encounters are more like sightings.

As my walk progresses along I am forced to leave the trail as none of my options provide a way under or over some of the very busy streets that cross the trail. Making my way down the sidewalk the rain starts coming down even harder as I turn off of Guildford and start down Johnson. The rain is really coming down hard as I hunker under my huge black umbrella. Fat drops of water are cascading off the points of my umbrella as I am look down at my feet trying to gauge just how many of them are actually landing on my shoes and pant cuffs.

The study of the run off occupies my attention for a few minutes as I walk down the sidewalk. Having decided that my feet are going to get wet regardless of anything I might try I look up from under my umbrella to see a huge black bear amble towards me. Because I was not paying attention to where I was going the black bear is like 30 feet in front of me before I notice it. By the look of it the bear has no intention of moving out of my path and to be honest the options are few for either of us.

Black Bear Encounter Coquitlam BC

“A” is the first bear encounter and “B” is the sighting that happened a few minutes later

To my left the bush is quite thick with no good openings to escape our encounter and to my right is a busy 4 lane road. I am standing there thinking to myself what the hell am I going to do? I know you are not supposed to run when encountering large predators as your running transforms you in to prey and the buggers will instinctively chase after you. Besides where am I going to run to? That when I look and notice that the oncoming traffic is caught up at a red light and I see that the light behind me has just turned green.

Thinking to myself I if I start running across the street right now I can just make it to the other side before the traffic gets to me. If that bears tries to chase after me well the cars might scare it off of me and I might escape. That is exactly what I did, ran across the busy 4 lane street. The black bear continued on its way down the sidewalk until it disappeared in an opening in the green belt.

Continuing my walk I couldn’t help but wonder what the bear would have done had I kept walking on the same sidewalk without looking up to see it there before me. Would we have passed each other like a couple of pedestrians ignoring the other as we make our way through our busy workaday lives? Or would it have dove into the bushes regardless of the brambles rather than get that close to a human? This would probably been the reaction but it could have given me a swat with its great paws as a warning for getting too close?

As I finish my walk guess who I ran in to again? That’s right the black bear again. In the time it took me to walk around the block I see the bruin stopping traffic across the even busier Guildford as it made its way back up towards the mountain.

Black Bear along the Hoy Creek Trail Coquitlam BC

Yesterday was a bit unusual for me as I had back to back to back conference calls that started early in the morning and went through to mid-afternoon. The early morning start interfered with my daily walk leaving me the choice of going in the afternoon or just waiting until the evening which would make for a rather dull Friday night. After sitting at the computer for hours straight I needed to stretch my legs so I opted for the afternoon.

In behind my apartment complex there is a nice stretch of the Hoy Creek Trail so I often start my walk there, get some fresh air before going out to the sidewalks skirting some heavily trafficked roads. As I walk along the trail I round a slight corner and notice some movement on the little bridge crossing Hoy Creek up ahead. Much to my surprise a large black bear steps off of the bridge on to the trail about 10 yards in front of me and casually starts sniffing his way down the path.

Naturally I just stopped and remained motionless and continued to watch the bear ever so slowly walk in the other direction. Looking at the bear I think about who does one call to report a bear sighting in the city, do I call 911 or some other group? Upon further thought I figured that by the time anybody responded to my call the bear would have already left the path he was on and surprised whoever was at the other end of the trail. Knowing that this part of the trail opens on to a very busy sidewalk at a bus stop on the even busier Johntson Street I figured this could get real bad real quick. I thought it would better if I circled around and warned the people I knew that would be on the sidewalk of the impending arrival of the bear.

Taking a different path I hurried to the other end of the same sidewalk that the bear would soon be on and began warning people of the danger ahead. The first 2, an older woman with a young teenage girl in tow thanked me and continued on their way towards the direction of the bear. A little further ahead there was a group of 6 elderly people enjoying the view of Hoy Creek and all the little salmon fry swimming in the waters below the overpass they were on. I warned them to be on the lookout for the bear and continued up the road towards where the bear would eventually immerge. Next, a young woman tuned out with her iPod was walking towards me so I stopped her and warned her as I knew the bear had to be close by and likely in the bushes to her right.

Upon arrival of where the Hoy Creek trail joins the sidewalk I looked down the path and sure enough here comes the bear. By this time the little old lady and her granddaughter caught me up and I pointed out the bear. The young woman with the iPod turns around and comes to join the three of us as we watch the bear slowly walk towards us. About 15 yards from us the bear turns off of the path and goes in to the bush to cut across the creek. This I know will put the bear heading straight towards the group of old people admiring the salmon fry so I warn them once again and they start walking off.

Black BearSeeing the group of the old people walking away I also see more people walking towards us, I start walking towards them in an effort to try to keep the bear from coming out of the bush right on top of these unsuspecting people. Armed only with my camera, and making a lot of noise, I tried my best to parallel the bear as he went through the bushes in an effort to keep the bear in there.

Suddenly the bear charges out the bushes right between the two divergent groups of people and runs across the busy 4 lane street causing a few emergency stops and scarring a lot of people. Once on the other side of the street the bear walks along the sidewalk to where the Hoy Creek trail continues its way deep in to the neighborhood.

As we watch the bear go back in to the woods surrounding the creek the little old lady and her granddaughter catch me up and she says in her thick eastern European accent, “I have lived in Canada now for a long time and I have never, ever seen a bear.” To this I could only respond with as I resumed my walk, “You can’t say that any more.”

Coquitlam Bound

It might not have been my first choice but I am moving back to Coquitlam, North Coquitlam to be precise. The location itself is pretty good, close to all kinds of shops as there is quite a few strip malls within walking distance as well as a very large shopping centre. I am within walking distance of a large park and small lake, Douglas college and an aquatic centre. But most importantly I am within walking distance of where my children live making it easier for us all to see each other.

The unit I took is a large one bedroom apartment with a big balcony and I am looking forward to being able to barbecue once again. The kitchen has slightly less cupboard space than I would like due to some funky openings between the kitchen and the living room but I will make it work.

There is a decent amount of storage in the unit that should afford me the opportunity to finally get rid of the extra expense of the storage locker. There will be a few things I need to get rid of such as my window screens and the old tires for my car but that is OK as I am tired of logging this stuff around.

I am locked in for a year at this new place and I am paying slightly more than I would like to but all in all I am looking forward to getting out of down-town Haney.