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‘Dude, don’t touch the bear!’: Video of animal encounter in Campbell River, B.C., causing outrage

Social media video of a black bear being pestered by people while feasting on fish on the shores of the Campbell River has sparked outrage online and among locals.

The video was posted seven weeks ago to Instagram by user B100k and has now caught the attention of residents in the Vancouver Island city, located about 225 kilometres north of Victoria, B.C.

The video, shot by someone on a bridge looking down at a beach, shows a group of people with fishing gear fixated on a black bear eating at the river's edge.

Members of the group get within inches of the animal as they pose for selfies and take photos of it. Toward the end of the video, one of the individuals attempts to pet the bear.

"Dude, don't touch the bear," yells someone from the bridge, followed by an expletive.

The bear barely engages with the group until the brazen attempt at a pat and then it quickly turns its head to react.

While the bear nor the fisherman appear harmed during the interaction, video viewers have expressed outrage over what was captured on camera.

Online reactions echo the bridge viewer's take on the situation and comments posted on the video range from "Are you kidding me?" to "Feed the bears … your bodies."

A closeup of a black bear in a meadow.

According to the Ministry of Environment, it doesn't look like anyone actually fed the bear, so there is no offence under the Wildlife Act.

A spokesperson for the ministry told CBC there is also not a harassing offence because the act defines harassment or herding as being done with a motor vehicle, aircraft, boat or other mechanical device.

But the group's behaviour has some locals upset.

"Anybody who sees that are going to think 'Oh you can go to Campbell River and pet bears!'" said Marsha Vickers, who was hiking along the river Monday.

Vickers and fellow hiker, Ken Vende Burgt, told CHEK News they worry the bear could end up euthanized or relocated if it has too many close encounters.

"It's going to get habituated to people and eventually there are going to be problems where the bear is actually attacking people and then they will shoot it or drag it somewhere else," said Vende Burgt.

According to WildSafeBC, which works to reduce conflicts with people and wildlife through education, there is less than one fatal black bear attack on humans every three years but it is important not to be complacent.

Lisa Lopez, WildSafeBC program manager, says the bear was likely just interested in salmon and the group was not giving the animal the distance it needed to enjoy its dinner in peace.

"The action that we would suggest people take there is to back away from that space and give that bear space and time to finish its meal," said Lopez.

It is not possible to tell from the video if the fish was on the shoreline as a consequence of natural happenings, or if it was placed there by humans to attract animals for photo-ops.

CBC has reached out to the Instagram user who posted the video.

Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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