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Vacation over for pair of grizzlies caught on remote island in B.C.

Grizzlies are not native to Alert Bay. Photo by Chris Parker. Flickr Creative Commons license

A nearly week-long holiday of swimming and munching on berries has come to an end for two grizzly bears that have been caught on a tiny island just off the north-east tip of Vancouver Island.

Village of Alert Bay chief administrative officer Justin Beadle said the two- to-three-year-old bruins were captured within a few hours of each other on Thursday morning, much to the relief of residents on Cormorant Island, where the village is located.

"Everyone will be very pleased because it was going on a little long there," said Beadle of the uncommon guests who swam to the 4.5-square kilometre island, about 350 kilometres north of Nanaimo, last Friday.

Grizzlies are not native to the area and the presence of the two bears caused some concern among the roughly 1,000 Alert Bay residents, Beadle said.

An advisory issued by the village several days after the bears arrived informed Alert Bay residents to children to school, pack up fishing equipment, stay off area walking trails and take other bear-proofing precautions while traps were set for the bruins.

"It looks like the traps have about a 20 per cent success rate so the fact that they got both animals alive, within a week of arrival without having to snare them (or) tranquilize them is excellent," Beadle said.

The bears are believed to be siblings who island-hopped to Alert Bay in search of new territory after being forced off the central coast by a dominant male.

It's up to biologists at the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources to determine where they will be relocated, Beadle said.

"I, the village and the entire community here hope they are returned to their natural habitat where they are based."


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