Conservation Service forced to put down aggressive bear in North Okanagan - InfoNews

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Conservation Service forced to put down aggressive bear in North Okanagan

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July 04, 2019 - 3:41 PM

NORTH OKANAGAN - A black bear had to be trapped and put down after it became aggressive following multiple visits to a Lumby area trailer park to eat garbage.

B.C. conservation officer Micah Kneller described the situation as "completely frustrating" and totally avoidable.

"We're tired of it, we don't want to kill bears... all because people are completely unwilling to store their garbage where bears can't get at it," Kneller said.

The B.C. Conservation Officer Service received a report on June 26 of the bear at the Valleyview Mobile Home Park, about five kilometres north of Lumby. A humane trap was set on June 28, and on July 2 the bear was trapped and later euthanized. Kneller said the bear felt no pain and was put down by shooting a bullet into its head.

Valleyview Mobile Home Park was issued a dangerous wildlife protection order warning but no fine.

Kneller said the bear had become habitualized after discovering easy access to garbage at the mobile home park. The conservation officer said the surrounding bush was strewn with garbage.

Valleyview Mobile Home Park manager Anne McBeth objected to the Conservation Service issuing the warning to the park saying it was the responsibility of the private mobile homeowners.

"We have spoken to the people who are in the direct involvement area," said McBeth. "That's all we can do is make them aware."

McBeth said she had been managing the park for 26 years and this was only the second time they'd had an issue with bears.

While this incident happened at the Valleyview Mobile Home Park, the conservation officer said the same thing happens all too frequently across the region.

Kneller said although people should know not to leave garbage unsecured the problem is still widespread across the North Okanagan and around five bears have had to be destroyed so far this year. He also knows several other bear situations which will no doubt lead to the animals soon being destroyed.

He lays the blame on people not securing their garbage and allowing bears to have access to it.

"At the end of the day if people don't change their behaviour then the bear's behaviour isn't going to change," he said. "A bear is going to be a bear, if there's food there, they're going to come and get it."

And contrary to what some believe it's impossible to relocate a habitualized bear and they have to be destroyed. As these deaths are easily prevented by the public securing their garbage, Kneller said conservation officers find the situation extremely frustrating.

Making the situation worse is people's reluctance to call the conservation service, believing officers will just come and kill the bear.

"We don't show up and kill bears just because they're observed," he said. "We are not going to show up and kill a bear because it's eating from a fruit tree or bird feeder."

Kneller said people need to take responsibility. People keeping free run chickens and other small animals need to install electric fences and everyone needs to secure garbage inside or in a bear-proof garbage bin. 

The argument that bears will be attracted anyway because people have to leave their garbage out for collection during the day just isn't true, he said. Bears first come at night and then return several times to become habituated before showing up during the day.

"We're frustrated because people don't get it... it's so easy to prevent it just needs a little more effort from people."

Kneller wants to remind the public it is illegal under the Wildlife Act to attract dangerous wildlife onto a property. Fines start at $230 and can go up to $250,000.


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