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People fed this B.C. black bear to get photos: Now it's dead

Huckleberry was a bear sighted throughout July 2020 in the Deep Cove area on the North Shore, and was killed by Conservation Officers July 31.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK / The North Shore Black Bear Society

The death of friendly B.C. black bear Huckleberry serves as a sad reminder of the consequences of human interference with wildlife.

"We never had a negative encounter with Huckleberry at all," Luci Cadman, Director of North Shore Black Bear Society.

The organization was established to educate North Shore residents of Vancouver about bears and members will often attend bear sightings to ensure safety and move the animal along.     

Huckleberry was first reported to them July 2, Cadman said. He was eating scraps from a compost bin, and was easy to move on into the forest.

Huckleberry was sighted several times throughout the month, passing peacefully through the Deep Cove residential area. 

In a Facebook post about Huckleberry, society directors explained that people in the area had been allowing him to eat from their garbage in order to take a video. 

Huckleberry, our journey together began on July 2. You were eating scraps from an organics cart - the enclosure had been... Posted by North Shore Black Bear Society on Wednesday, August 5, 2020

"Being present in residential areas and eating from garbage cans occasionally, that’s a death sentence for a bear," Cadman said. 

Unfortunately, Huckleberry was no exception.

"Last Friday we got a report to say he was eating berries by the side of the road, on the edge of the forest," she said. They attended the scene to make sure that people were keeping their distance. 

"We actually found him by seeing people running down the street with their cellphones to take a video."

Because so many people were crowding around Huckleberry to take photos, it was difficult for society volunteers to move him along by making loud noises and firm voices.

Once residents returned inside, at the direction of volunteers, Huckleberry moved away on his own. However, later that day Conservation Officers were called when Huckleberry was eating garbage in a different area.

"He was tranquilized in that neighbourhood for getting into garbage, and he was labeled as a food-conditioned bear, so a bear that relies on unnatural food sources," she said.

A bear conditioned to eating human food or too comfortable around people often don’t get a chance at relocation, she said. 

"The Conservation Officers here in B.C. don’t have many resources," she said. "So there’s often not many options for non-lethal management."

Unfortunately, it was human behaviour that led to Huckleberry's death. This is why education and bear awareness is so important.

"Relocation can’t be the solution. We can’t just keep moving bears," Cadman said. "We must learn to coexist and tolerate their presence at a respectable distance."

People crowding a bear with a camera is a huge problem in B.C.

"People approach them for photographs, and they don’t understand that when they do that, they trap the bear in a residential area," Cadman said. 



Words from one of our Directors Ellie Lamb: A commonly used phrase in describing bears is, “...they are dangerous because they have lost their fear of people”. In my experience, this thought misrepresents the natural behaviours of a bear. Bears, unless we made them fearful, were never fearful to begin with. As a whole, bears are willing to get along with us but our respect is what they need. By “respect” I mean, securing attractants, electric fencing, sending them out of areas we do not want them in a fair way they understand. We need a general knowledge of their true nature and intentions, and of course stop allowing for these animals to be killed for no reason. In respecting bears we teach them how to be good neighbours, and we will finally get off the ineffective, and highly unethical cycle of continually replacing killed bears with live bears only to be killed as well. Bears Clearly have been misunderstood to the detriment of their survival. We cannot continue to kill our way through this. Bears are ready for fair treatment and understanding and we as a society are ready to give it to them. Most bears come into our communities for food, but most important to them they come into our communities for social reasons. They are seeking out safety in amongst humans. The threat to them are large male bears that may bring harm to their families. This is why it’s the vulnerable population of bears such as mothers and cubs and teenage bears that we see enter our communities. Understanding these animals in a truthful way helps both of us if we are going to live peacefully with them, and certainly is important if we think it’s our right to make decisions on their lives. I have found the use and implementation of “fear” in the relationship between bears and humans encourages misunderstanding and breaks down the trust that exists naturally between us. Co-existence is difficult if not impossible without trust. Truth is a safe forest is a forest where bears have no fear of people, but always respect.” Ellie is a renowned bear educator and grizzly bear viewing guide. We are extremely fortunate to have her knowledge and expertise to help guide our education program. ?? Elyse T Posted by North Shore Black Bear Society on Tuesday, August 4, 2020


Leaving garbage, food scraps and fallen fruit attracts bears to residential areas, and this puts them at risk. Bears need to be calmly, but firmly moved along, using a stern voice.  

"They’re very tolerant animals," she said. "They don’t often defend themselves despite being constantly harassed."

Bears will also come into a community seeking safety. However, it is still important that they move on, and don't become comfortable around people or find an easy food source that will keep them coming back.

The society seeks to educate the community about how to properly deal with a bear, speaking with newcomers to Canada, children in schools and canvassing door-to-door.

The organization was founded in 1999 after 39 bears were killed in the North Shore in one year, Cadman said.

"They show every single day that they’re tolerant animals, and they’re not aggressive by nature," she said.

"And I really don’t think they deserve this fate."

To contact a reporter for this story, email Brie Welton or call (250) 819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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