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Conservation officer destroys bear

Two year old had entered home in Montebello neighbourhood

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A conservation officer was forced to kill a bear, the second in two months, after it got into a home near Whistler Marketplace.

The incident occurred on July 20 at about 8:30 p.m. Occupants of a townhouse in the Montebello neighbourhood near Blackcomb Way were not home when a two-year-old, 75-pound male black bear broke into the house through the back door, which had been left open save for a mesh covering.

The bear broke in and trashed the kitchen before the occupants came home, according to Drew Milne with the B.C. Conservation Officer Service.

Once the occupants came home, the bear ran out through the front door, but also ran out with some food and then stayed on the porch. The occupants then closed the back door, a sliding glass door, and called the Conservation Officer Service before the bear tried breaking through the window again.

“It actually ran into the window trying to get through,” Milne said.

The occupants tried scaring it away but the bear would not leave.

“I arrived and the bear was still on scene when I got there,” Milne said. “He wasn’t scared of us at all.”

The road behind the house was then blocked off before the bear was destroyed.

Milne said the bear had been in the area for most of the day. Conservation officers had not tagged the bear before it was killed — it is common practice for officers to tag bears when they are seen in residential areas.

That could mean the bear in question was not seen in a residential area before this incident. Traps are often set in various areas to put tags on bears.

Milne said this is the third bear that the Conservation Officer Service has had to destroy this year.

Another incident occurred on May 24 when a conservation officer killed “Murray,” a tagged black bear, after it had twice attempted to enter a house on Nesters Road a block north of Lorimer Road. Murray had previously attempted to enter houses in November and December of 2007.

Milne, the only conservation officer working in Whistler, said there have been numerous incidents in which bears have attempted to break into houses, but he could not provide any specific statistic because he said there are many incidents that go unreported by the public.

“This is probably the 11 th one I’ve attended,” he said.

Milne said that more aversive conditioning has to be done for bears — a tactic used to maintain a fear of humans in bears that can include deterrents such as rubber bullets, foul-tasting chemicals and electric shocks, according to the B.C. Ministry of Environment.

“That’s to try and prevent them from becoming habituated,” Milne said. “Habituation is when they become used to humans and when they become used to humans, that’s when problems will occur with bears.

“So if we get more calls about where the bears are, then we can implement some (aversive) conditioning, and that will usually help stop home invasions.”

Milne also said that the Brio neighbourhood has been a hotspot for home invasions by bears. The culprit, however, was captured and destroyed.

He added that conservation officers will kill a bear if it has been highly aggressive, including entering a home.

“Once a bear has broken into a house, we can’t have that sort of risk,” Milne said. “Bears are very intelligent creatures, if they break into a house once and are successful, they will continue to try and break into other houses.”

Anyone who witnesses a bear trying to enter a house is asked to report the incident at 1-877-952-7277.

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