Port Hardy residents warned after man encounters 'aggressive black bear' in town

(CTV News)

The BC Conservation Officer Service is warning residents of Port Hardy to "take precautions" after a man had an encounter with "an aggressive black bear" in the district on Friday.

The incident occurred early in the morning near Market and Granville streets, according to a Facebook post by the BCCOS. 

The service did not elaborate on the nature of the man's encounter with the bear, other than to say that he was "eventually able to get to safety with the help of local RCMP members."

"Port Hardy residents are accustomed to bears wandering through town, but this bear was unusually aggressive, so the public should maintain safe distances from bears at all times," the BCCOS post reads.

Conservation officers are working to track down the bear, and municipal officials have been asked to post signs in the area, according to the service.

"Residents are asked to familiarize themselves with safety tips, including travelling in groups, making noise and carrying bear spray," the service said, adding that a full list of tips can be found on the provincial government's website

In an email to CTV News on Sunday, the BCCOS said no additional sightings of the bear had been reported.

"Officers continue to monitor and patrol the community," the service said.

B.C. conservation officers killed more than 500 black bears in 2021, typically because the animals had shown signs of becoming accustomed to unnatural food sources – such as trash – or habituated to the presence of humans. 

Included in the 2021 total were 77 cubs, many of which were not killed out of necessity, according to an animal-rights organization that has filed a complaint against the conservation officer service. 

In the first four months of this year, 39 black bears were killed by conservation officers in the province, and officers responded to just under 200 calls about the animals. Calls about bears to BCCOS typically increase in the summer months. 

With files from CTV News Vancouver's Alyse Kotyk and Tahmina Aziz