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wildlife order

By Loreth Beswetherick Conservation officers have issued their first protection order in the Sea to Sky corridor since the Wildlife Act was changed in July this year making it an offence to intentionally feed or attract wildlife by leaving garbage out. The Whistler Golf Course was told last Sunday it had one week to remove all non-bear proof containers and make sure there are no bear attractants on the course. Failure to comply could result in court action and net first-time offenders a fine of $50,000 and/or a six-month prison term. Conservation officer Dan LeGrandeur said it was a bear incident around noon on Sunday that sparked the order. The bear was destroyed, bringing the death toll in Whistler to 18 this summer. RCMP Const. Joe Leeson, who responded to the complaint, tried unsuccessfully to scare the sow in the direction of the Tantalus complex and up Whistler Mountain using bear bangers. "She was so reluctant to leave the golf course area that instead of going up the mountain she raced back down and got caught in the greenspace between the driving range and the highway," said LeGrandeur. It was there Leeson managed to tree the bear and call conservation officers. He kept her treed until LeGrandeur arrived from Squamish with a tranquillizer gun. LeGrandeur fired three darts into the bear, waiting 20 minutes between each for the drug to take. "It was my intention to relocate her," he said. "But nothing went right. For some reason the drugs didn’t seem to have full effect on the bear." She came out of the tree and ran across the highway back onto the golf course. Again the team tried to scare her off, this time into the Blueberry area. "She was just unwilling to leave the golf course. She just kept on circling back around," said Le Grandeur. The bear, with three darts in her, was destroyed on the Valley Trail. The incident has the co-chair of the Whistler Black Bear Task team irate. Sylvia Dolson happened to chance upon the chaos Sunday while walking along the trail. "I saw the dead bear and the blood," said Dolson. She added the golf course has been under investigation by the Whistler bylaws department who have had to attend to a couple of garbage complaints. "Those receptacles are on every tee-off and they are left full until the next morning. Why don’t they empty them at night?" WGC head professional Alan Kristmanson said the golf course acted immediately to remove the receptacles. "It didn’t even cross our minds that they was a bear issue," he said. "They contain the little paper cups and empty pop cans by the water coolers. We have bear proof bins for our main garbage. We are trying to be good about our garbage," he said. "The minute Dan came by and told us the bears like to get the pop cans and lick them, we said we would have them removed by the end of the week... the last thing we want to do is attract bears." The golf course has now acquired six bear-proof receptacles. All will be installed by next Sunday. LeGrandeur said WGC has been very co-operative. "They are more than willing to comply with my wishes. I am meeting them on Sunday to do my final inspection." The bus stop shelters around the village and Blackcomb Benchlands also have garbage receptacles which are not bear-proof. In terms of the new laws, a second conviction under the Wildlife Act can potentially result in a $100,000 penalty and/or a maximum prison term of one year. Conservation officers have the choice of either issuing a fine or prosecuting violators in court. The Ministry of Environment’s Alex Drabowski said the Act was changed to give conservation officers added enforcement power to get their message across and "help educate people about garbage and how it attracts wildlife."

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