An adult black bear was shot dead by conservation officers in Function Junction on Thursday, Oct. 18, after breaking into a building and several cars in its search for food.
Conservation Officer Simon Gravel said the large female was a repeat offender, but its behavior had gotten worse. It was killed at the Function Junction garbage and recycling transfer station just after 10 p.m. after four hours of confrontation.
“The level of conflict had escalated very quickly with the home invasion, and maybe a dozen cars were broken into. She would just lean into the windows and break them. Sometimes she got some food, sometimes not,” he said.
“After four cars were broken into on Thursday, people were trying to chase the bear away but it was responding to that and chasing back, charging them.”
The public safety concern brought out the Conservation Service and the RCMP.
“They both responded and killed the bear,” Gravel said.
“We have a high level of tolerance for black bears in Whistler, but when it becomes a public safety concern we remove the bear.”
Gravel said the same bear had similar conflicts in the Function Junction area in the fall of 2011, but at the time she had cubs and they relocated her instead. She made her way back to the area, he added.
Black bears try to consume up to 20,000 calories a day at this time of year in preparation for winter hibernation. This brings them into areas of human habitation in the search for food.
“Bears are willing to take more risk at this time of year, so it’s even more important for the public to secure every source of food.”
Gravel said residents should not leave food in their vehicles. Bears can smell food even if the windows are rolled up, and once they know how to break windows they will do it whether food is smelled or not.
“When they learn the trick of how to break in, they will do it again and again,” he said. “They have been lucky in cars before so they will investigate the car, even there’s no food. Bears are very strong and it’s easy for them.”