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Bear-feeding residents urged to stop what they are doing.



A second bear is destroyed after returning to a Panorama Ridge home for food

Sylvia Dolson has a message for the people hand feeding bears from their Panorama Ridge home;

"Please stop," said the executive director of the Jennifer Jones Bear Society.

"Do you not understand that whether or not you can make friends with this bear that the end result in our society today, under the current government policy, is that the bear will be killed?

"So, if you are doing this for your love of the bears, you are killing them and surely that is not what you want to have happen."

Dolson and others have been searching for a way to stop the feedings as the bear death toll mounts.

Last week a bear was shot after conservation officers determined it was one of the frequent visitors to the home.

Two more were trapped but later given a loud, raucous and scary release in an effort to scare them away from the area.

Sadly, one of those bears, a three-year-old female, returned and was shot Tuesday.

"Obviously this is not a good thing," said conservation officer Chris Doyle. "But we have to do our job as best we can."

Under current government policy hand-fed bears, habituated to human food and contact, must be destroyed.

Conservation officers are continuing their investigation of the house and its occupants and plan to recommend to crown counsel that charges be laid.

If found guilty the bear-feeders could face a maximum fine of $25,000.

There is still a trap outside the home as Doyle believes other bears are being fed and will likely have to be destroyed.

Dolson is hoping for another outcome.

Maybe if the neighbours scared the local bears away every time they saw one the hungry-scavengers might get the message and stay away for good, saving themselves from a death penalty.

"We don’t want anyone to risk their own safety," said Dolson.

"But these bears need as much negative conditioning as possible."

"(People) can stamp their feet and try to shoo the bear away from a safe distance and if that doesn’t work right away then they need to call in help."

Dolson suggests calling the RCMP or bylaw department as they can be there in minutes. People can also call conservation officers but it can take them up to 45 minutes to respond as they are based in Squamish.

Dolson is also investigating whether or not the residents can by charged with a bylaw offence for feeding or providing food for "dangerous animals." Under current provisions people can be fined up to $2,000 if convicted in court.

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