Black bear alarms campers

Two families were trapped in their trailers as a black bear strolled into their campsite during their Labour Day weekend getaway near Rocky Mountain House.

Two families were trapped in their trailers as a black bear strolled into their campsite during their Labour Day weekend getaway near Rocky Mountain House.

The furry predator wandered into their site Saturday when Derek Fuchs was camping with his wife and two children and another couple with two children at Crimson Lake Provincial Park.

“We heard something walking in the woods and there are lots of deer there, so I grabbed my flashlight and started scanning the forest to see what is out there and couldn’t find anything,” said Fuchs. “Then I scanned the flashlight down right in front of us and there is a bear right there, at the edge of the trees. About 10 or 15 feet away.”

The adults, who were outside at time, ran into the nearest camper. This left Fuchs’ sleeping sons in the other trailer about 50 metres away from where the parents were holed up waiting for the bear to wander out.

Experienced campers, Fuchs said they had no food or garbage left out and the only food they had was what was in their hands.

They immediately called 911 and were told someone would be sent out to deal with the bear. But with the two boys in the other trailer alone, Fuchs felt something had to be done.

“It was one of those things, do you do a 50-yard sprint to my trailer or a five-yard sprint to this trailer,” said Fuchs. “We did the five-yard sprint.”

So Fuchs and the other father jumped in their vehicle in an attempt to find the conservation officer. But by that time they could hear their children crying, so they turned around and ran to the other trailer.

“At that point we had no idea where the bear was so we opened the door and looked out with a flashlight and he’s in the middle of the campsite, maybe 10 to 15 feet away,” said Fuchs. “He’s not doing anything, he’s not eating food, he’s just sitting there.”

At one point Fuchs set off his car alarm in an attempt to scare the bear off but it didn’t work. The bear just sat in the campsite, licking its paws.

When the conservation officer showed up, the bear was resting less than two metres behind Fuchs’ trailer. Rather than kill the bear, the conservation officer used rubber bullets to scare it off.

“He walked over to the bear, probably 20 feet away, and shot at him and within a millisecond the bear was gone,” said Fuchs. “He was just gone.”

No one was hurt during the bear encounter but the families took extra precautions on Sunday with more lights set up around the campsite.

Bertha Taks, who works at Crimson Lake Provincial Park, said the bear has only been a problem at the park for the last week.

“It’s just a young bear, he’s after food as it is time to store up for the winter,” said Taks.

A trap has been set in hopes of catching the bear.

mcrawford@bprda.wpengine.com

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