A Squamish woman is warning locals and tourists alike to be exceptionally vigilant about bears in the backcountry after one broke into her vehicle and stole her cooler Monday night.
Olena Domnina, an experienced outdoor adventurer, returned from a sunset hike on the Sigurd Trail off the AshluMain Forest Service Road, at about 9 p.m. Monday night to find that her Sienna Toyota minivan had been broken into. At first she thought thieves had struck, but the claw marks and muddy prints quickly made the real culprits obvious.
“They reached in and got the cooler out,” she said. “They were after the food.”
The vehicle’s side window was smashed and there were clear signs of a bear’s paws and claws around the window and down the doors. The vehicle was still locked and nothing else was missing other than the cooler, which contained butter, eggs and fruit, but no meat, said Domnina, who moved to Squamish a few months ago.
She said she has hiked and camped extensively, including recently completing the Pacific Crest Trail, which runs from Canada to Mexico, and never had this type of bear encounter before.
Her vehicle was drivable, but will have to be repaired and she doesn’t have wildlife-incident insurance.
Her reason for speaking out is to alert others who head into the backcountry to go to great lengths to keep food out of bears hands.
“I don’t want to provoke the bears and I don’t want the bear to be dead.”
Despite the incident, she has a positive attitude about the experience.
“It gives me a good start in this area,” she said.
Domnina’s plan is to buy a bear resistant cooler that she will keep outside her vehicle when she parks in the backcountry.
The Chief reached out to WildSafe BC for a comment for this story, but did not immediately hear back.