Says he would have fought charges if he'd known fine was going to Whistler Bear Working Group
Roland (Rico) Suchy, who was recently fined $3,000 for feeding bears at his home in Brio, said he's just not like the average person when it comes to the bears.
"When you're sitting with bears for 15 years, I mean (you) know how to handle them," he said last week after pleading guilty Dec. 16 to one count of feeding dangerous wildlife.
Suchy is the first person in B.C. to be charged and convicted for feeding bears, which is an offence under the B.C. Wildlife Act.
"They're like puppies. You talk to them. You don't make any sudden moves, especially if it's a new one. And if you give them your scent, that bear will never hurt you."
The local conservation officer, however, disagreed with this theory. Last summer Suchy's actions prompted an extensive investigation into the bear activity at his Panorama Ridge home and ended with two bears being destroyed. Three more were relocated from the area.
The bears were killed because they had lost their fear of humans and looked at people as a source of food, according to the conservation officer, Chris Doyle, who was forced to shoot them.
The two bears who were killed were Ferby and Suzie and Suchy says they were his favourites.
He says he found them when they were just cubs abandoned by their mother high up in a tree outside his bedroom window.
"The tree is two feet away... and they were sitting there talking to me," recalled Suchy who still gets upset when he thinks about their fate.
He said he had no choice but to feed them to gain their trust.
"If I didn't have those two young ones I wouldn't have done nothing like that. I'm not stupid."
In provincial court last week a judge heard that Suchy had been feeding the bears pastries and stale bread from a local bakery.
Suchy said the goods from the bakery were for his houseguests and not the bears.
Investigations leading up to the charge included surveillance of Suchy's home and execution of a search warrant on the home.
Though he pled guilty in court, Suchy still denies that he was ever feeding the bears bread on a regular basis.
He does however admit to using bread to gain their trust in the beginning.
"All the bears that came to my house, I did one thing, took a piece of bread... and talked to them low... If you talk low, you hold a piece of bread, they come closer.