Melanie Porter thought she saw a black cat in her yard in the evening of Thursday, Nov. 4. It was a furred, four legged animal, but it wasn’t a cat, as she initially thought. Porter found herself face to face with a black bear.
“I just froze,” she said, recalling her thought process. “Do I freeze, do I stay, do I go, do I run, do I scream – what do I do.”
Porter says as she was there frozen the bear came up and licked her hand. When it came forward to lick again, she moved, and the bear retreated back to the bushes. As it moved away, Porter was able to snap a quick photo of the encounter with her phone.
“It felt more like a dog’s tongue than a cat’s tongue,” she said, laughing. “Somebody asked me that today, and I was like, ‘I didn’t even think of that.’”
Porter lives in the uplands of West Quesnel. She said her neighbours have been noticing increased bear activity this year.
Bears are often attracted to urban areas by things like garbage, fruit trees and compost.
“Human-sourced food is rich in calories, and requires less time and energy to get,” the BC SPCA notes on their website.
“Unfortunately, eating these foods brings bears and people closer together.”
According to Wildsafe BC, black bears account for 14,000 to 25,000 calls per year to conservation officers.
Wildsafe BC community coordinator for the Cariboo, Ted Traer has been touring Quesnel and Williams Lake, tagging garbage cans put out overnight.
Porter said sometimes that doesn’t even work, recounting a story of how an animal broke into a neighbour’s garage to get at garbage.
“At this time of year in preparation for winter bears are eating themselves out of house and home,” he told Black Press in September.
“They consume 40,000 calories a day and a bird feeder alone has 11,000 calories per kilogram. That’s 25 per cent of a bear’s daily food intake.”
Wildsafe BC publishes a report on the number of wildlife sightings each December.
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