An unprecedented heatwave that engulfed the Pacific Northwest and southern Canada recently has not only taken its toll on human inhabitants, but wildlife appear to be struggling as well. A mother bear and her cubs were recently filmed cooling off in a swimming pool in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. Whilst this is not the first backyard pool to be raided by bears, this swimming session was likely brought about by recent surging temperatures.

Coquitlam resident Lyle Jeffrey captured footage of the bear family late last month (June 27) when the daytime temperature peaked at around 39°C (102°F). The mercury continued to rise the following day in the British Columbian city topping out at 41°C (106°F). Elsewhere in the province, temperatures soared to record highs for Canada when they reached a sweltering 49.6°C (121.3°F) in Lytton (shortly before a wildfire blazed through the village).

With temperatures spiking across western North America, it's not entirely surprising to find local wildlife cooling off wherever water is available. British Columbia boasts one of the highest populations of black bears in the world, and the omnivores regularly stray into suburban areas. "Pretty much all of BC is considered bear country," explains the British Columbia Conservation Organisation. "Since we typically put our homes, cities, ranches and farms in prime bear habitat, it stands to reason that there will be an opportunity for conflict with these animals." After a short splash to cool off, the bears headed off over the garden fence (although Jeffrey did wonder if the trio would soon return). 

The heatwave is expected to continue this week as a ridge of high pressure strengthens over the West. To date, the unrelenting heat has claimed several lives and may continue to put strain on humans and wild animals suffering in the soaring temperatures.

Header image: Ben Forsyth