News » Whistler

Bear mortality rate climbs


Whistler’s bear mortality rate for 2001 climbed with the destruction of two bears by conservation officers last month.

Last week a yearling bear was destroyed after it was captured near the Riverside Campground. The bear had been frequenting the area, including tent camps where food may have been left out.

Another juvenile male bear was trapped and destroyed July 13 after it had entered a home in Alpine Meadows to access food. The first bear destroyed this year was a large male that had broken into a vehicle in Emerald Estates to access food. The bear was trapped and destroyed June 30.

"We are extremely disappointed with the turn of events," said Sylvia Dolson, director of the J.J. Whistler Bear Society. "Conservation officers are constrained by archaic government policies with no scientific basis."

The policy of the Conservation Officer Service is that bears conditioned to non-natural food sources, habituated to humans or causing property damage, will be destroyed.

The J.J. Whistler Bear Society strongly believes that bears should not be destroyed unless they pose a clear and imminent danger to human safety. The society has helped the Whistler RCMP obtain and use non-lethal tactics to frighten bears away. Whistler RCMP officers have not destroyed any bears since implementation of the program in late 1999.

Last year only one bear was destroyed in Whistler by conservation officers.

In addition to the three bears destroyed by conservation officers so far this year, four bears have died as a result of being hit by automobiles or trains.

"I would strongly urge anyone who has a complaint with respect to a human-bear conflict to call the Whistler RCMP," Dolson said. "All RCMP officers are equipped with non-lethal alternatives and are committed to resolving conflicts without destroying the bear.

"There is also a tremendous onus on the community to be responsible residents of bear country," Dolson continued. "Problem bears are not born. They are the product of human carelessness and indifference."

Eliminating attractants is the key to minimizing human-bear conflicts. Garbage must be stored indoors or in bear-proof containers. Avoid the use of birdfeeders during bear season, keep pet food inside, keep barbecues and composts clean, and remove fruit from trees as it ripens.