It may sound like something straight out of a Yogi Bear cartoon, but it was no laughing matter for the Myhill-Jones family when a big bruin sidled up to their Botanical Beach picnic spot and devoured their food.
Like so many adventures these days, this one was captured on video and posted on YouTube. Also ready for YouTube viewing is another weekend animal encounter showing a pair of dogs — Covu the German shepherd and Tika the husky — shooing a young cougar from a property in the Highlands.
In the bear encounter, Steven Myhill-Jones was enjoying time outdoors with his wife and two young children at Botany Bay, on the northern end of the popular Port Renfrew-area beach.
“We were sitting there eating our picnic lunch. It was around noon on Saturday, and this guy sort of yelled at us and was pointing. I turned around and there was this black bear, like 10 feet away.”
Myhill-Jones said he has had a number of black-bear encounters in the back country and has found that they usually take off when they hear noise. Not this one.
“My wife got our two kids out of the way, and backed away down to the water. I tried to scare it off.”
But the bear just ignored his efforts and moved a little closer. That convinced Myhill-Jones to back off, too.
“I didn’t have time to clear up the food, and then he just climbed over and started eating our lunch.”
It was pretty healthy fare, including peaches and strawberries, along with a tub of butter that the bear particularly enjoyed.
“He annihilated it.”
The family moved farther away and up onto the nearby trail while the bear chowed down.
“The only thing he left, actually, was pickled beans,” Myhill-Jones said.
“I think it kind of offended my wife a little,” he added with a laugh. “She made them.”
Myhill-Jones asked a park attendant to contact conservation personnel and followed the bear from a distance as it made its way along the shore. He said he wanted to keep the bear in sight so he could identify it for authorities, and warned others along the way.
“This bear was clearly kind of roving around looking for more lunches and checking the tidal pools for food.”
The bear disappeared into the trees before conservation officers arrived. Myhill-Jones said he is afraid it could end up being a “sad story” for the animal if it is deemed to have become habituated to human food and has to be put down.
Conservation officer Peter Pauwels, who was not at either incident, said bears are regularly seen on local beaches.
“But it’s unusual that they would access human food, that’s what we don’t like to see. It’s the first report we’ve had in that area of that happening.”
As for the cougar video, Pauwels said the dogs involved could have been injured, although the cougar seemed to just want to get going. Khanh Vu, who took the video, said the dogs happened to be outside when the cougar showed up.
The cat eventually went up a tree before running off. Neither dog was hurt.
“It’s the Highlands, so we expect cougars there,” Pauwels said. “I guess it wandered in, and the dogs are doing what comes instinctively to them.
“You can see they were working together and they knew what they were doing.”
© Copyright 2013