Relocating garbage bears is a fairy tale | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Relocating garbage bears is a fairy tale

A black bear eyes up apples in a residential neighbourhood.
October 11, 2019 - 1:00 PM

While the notion of a bear that has become habituated to garbage will be humanly captured by conservation officers and transported deep into the wilderness to live a happy life in nature sounds good, the reality is far different.

"Our success in moving those bears is very low," B.C. Conservation Officer Service Sgt. Jeff Hanratty told "Most of those bears return and cause problems or cause problems in the new location they move to."

Ultimately they end up being killed.

"Once they've been trained and conditioned and have learned to feed on non-natural food... they won't go back to natural food," Hanratty said.

Hanratty said bears can travel vast distances and once habituated head back to the urban garbage eating lifestyle they've gotten used to.

A bear that Ranratty once relocated was back in a West Kelowna orchard within weeks and ending up being killed. Another bear and two cubs also met a similar fate, with the mother abandoning one of the cubs and accidentally killing the other during relocation. The mother was shot not long afterwards, after taking residence in another town.

"It's a lot easier for me personally to relocate a bear than it is to go out and kill one," Hanratty said. "It's not an easy or pleasant task having to put these bears down."

If a bear ends up in an urban area but isn't habituated Hanratty said they will consider relocating it.

As bears only become habituated due to human behaviour, changing that human behaviour is key. Not leaving garbage out at night, as well as picking the fruit on trees is also required by law. Residents who don't comply can face stiff fines under the B.C. Wildlife Act.

At the end of the day, there's no happy ending for a bear which becomes habituated.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 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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