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In a second incident, a large black bear, believed to be about
400 pounds, broke into a basement suite. Conservation officers shot the bear in
the shoulder before it ran up a tree. The bear was then hit with a
tranquilizer. The bear then fell from the tree and started running towards the
officers before it was shot again. This time it was killed.
The encounters in Coquitlam sparked a news release from B.C.’s
Ministry of Environment that encouraged people to keep all food and garbage
secure and to not approach bears when sighted.
It also said the Conservation Officer Service in the Lower
Mainland received 2,350 reports of bear sightings between April 1 and July 1.
Officers attended 116 times when bears acted aggressively or public safety was
an issue. Six bears were killed during this time.
“I’ve been predicting that it was going to happen,” said
Jacques Driselle, provincial coordinator for Bear Aware, when asked why black
bears are having physical encounters with humans.
Drisdelle said the number of bear encounters in Whistler could
have a lot to do with a large bear population, as well as particular bears that
have lost their natural fear of humans.
“There’s a lot more human tolerance for the presence of bears,”
While he said that too many bears are being killed by
conservation officers, he said that the problem starts with people who do not
understand what they need to do to prevent bear encounters.
“We’re shooting too many bears, it’s true,” he said. “What is
happening is when people allow bears to get into garbage, they’re killing the
bear. They’re just using someone else to pull the trigger for them and of
course they lay all the blame on the conservation officers.”
Drisdelle said that the calorie content of human food is an
attractive option for bears, one they can’t easily wean themselves off of once
they’ve tried it.
“If bears get into garbage or fruit trees or pet food or bird
feeders, these are foods that are very high in calorie content,” he said. “They
have to eat far more of their natural food to equate to the value, the
nutritional value of one time in a garbage can.
“It’s just as if I were to compare it to putting a child on a
diet of soft drinks, junk food, treats, ice cream, and then trying to change
that child’s habit by giving it potatoes and carrots and peas and broccoli.”