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Bear put down after attack

A black bear believed to have been the one that chased a man into Ferguson Lake in Prince George on Wednesday evening has been put down.

"We did euthanize one bear early this morning that we set a trap for last night," Conservation Officer Service Sgt. Steve Ackles said Thursday. "It just showed the behaviour of a highly-habituated bear and it was within a hundred metres of the incident."

Ferguson Lake Park, meanwhile, will be closed for one or two days to allow conservation officers to carry out their investigation.

The man escaped with some scrapes and cuts but not before some scary moments. At one point, the bear was holding the man underwater before a woman who was in the area unleashed her dog in an effort to distract the animal.

The tactic worked and saved the man from potentially bigger trouble.

"You don't like to talk about what could have happened but we do know is he sustained relatively minor injuries and survived the incident," Ackles said.

A necropsy will be performed on the bear, a large male that was in good condition, to determine whether it had come to rely on food from human sources like garbage and fruit trees.

"But the thing that was really a driver in the decision to euthanize was the bear's behaviour," Ackles said. "It was very indicative of habituated behaviour."

The dog's owner, Alana Bull, described the incident in a posting on social media.

She, her two boys and their grandmother had just started on a walk around the lake when they heard the man screaming for help. From another onlooker at the dock, they quickly learned a bear was chasing the man across the lake.

"I ran my dog, Musket, down the trail with me as fast as we could. I knew he would distract the bear from a safe distance and hopefully the man could get away," Bull said.

"During this time the bear made contact with the man in the water and tried to push him under.

"When we got to the other side, Musket caught scent and sight of the bear and started barking ferociously. The bear was distracted! He started to turn around and swim away from the man back towards shore and towards the barking."

"We then booked it back to the dock and away from the bear. I'm so proud of my dog."

The man was able to swim back towards the dock while police, ambulance and conservation officers were called to the scene.

Ackles said bear-human conflicts are rare in the Ferguson Lake area but added it can be a matter of just one person failing to take care of their garbage or neglecting to clean up around their fruit trees to create a problem.

And with bears beginning their annual feeding frenzy in the run up to hibernation, Ackles said conservation officers will be clamping down on households who refuse to do the right thing. Fines for failing to clean up attractants begin at $230.

"Time's up people," Ackles said. "You've got to manage your garbage or your apples. We don't want to habituate these bears where they become a possible public safety risk."

Those who come across a bear in their neighbourhood or a neighbour who is causing such trouble as leaving their garbage bins out the night before pickup are urged to call the Conservation Officer Service a 1-877-952-7277.

Only bears that show signs of habituation or serious injury will be put down.



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