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Bear killed on Callaghan construction site

Third bear in three weeks Conservation Officer Services has been called upon to destroy

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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,” he said.

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.”

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