The Conservation Officers Service (COS) is investigating a disturbing incident after a black bear was shot and killed in the early morning hours in a residential neighbourhood in Squamish earlier this week.
"We know that between midnight and 4 a.m. [Wednesday], a bear was shot in Garibaldi Highlands residential area in Squamish. The bear was found at about 5 a.m. on the front lawn of a private residence," said Squamish conservation officer Sgt. Simon Gravel.
"We are still looking for some information. At this point, though, we don't have any reason to think there is some dangerous person out there discharging firearms, so I think people are safe," said Gravel. "I think the shot was definitively targeting the bear."
The shooting is illegal, as is discharging a firearm in a residential area and hunting at night.
Gravel said the bullet that killed the bear has been retrieved, but for the purposes of the investigation, he preferred not to release any information about the size or type of gun used.
"The bear was shot and travelled a short distance to the residence," said Gravel, who said the bear walked a few hundred metres before dying. "There was a very short blood trail that we followed."
The bear was a healthy male of about 400 pounds and known to patrol the neighbourhood at night. Gravel said there had been no unusual reports from area residents.
"In many cases in the province, people judge a bear to be a problem and they kill it. And it's a dangerous way to address the problem. We have a professional agency to deal with this."
Sylvia Dolson, executive director of Get Bear Smart Society, was shocked by the incident.
"It's very disturbing that a resident would illegally kill a bear in a subdivision where there are families," she said.
"A moving, black animal on a dark night - it's pretty hard to know if you have a safe backdrop. The first thing you teach anybody who's hunting or destroying a bear, you have to have a safe backdrop. And also shot placement - in order to have a clean kill. That didn't happen. And now you have an injured bear in a subdivision.
"It's just horrible for the bear, who suffered, and the potential for risk to humans was high - it's very disturbing," she added. "I can't think of a worse scenario."
Gravel said the incident is of concern. "We don't want residents to shoot bears. What we need is a witness who heard the shot."
Anyone with concerns about bears is asked to contact COS at 1-877-952-7277, especially if they remember hearing a shot early Wednesday morning.