NORTH VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Two black bears had to be killed in North Vancouver over the Canada Day long weekend after one charged a conservation officer, and another went inside a home. Both seem to have learned to rely on humans for food.
Lonnie Schoenthal with the B.C. Conservation Service says it’s not an experience he wants to repeat: he was forced to shoot an aggressive bear when it charged him on June 29.
Within about half an hour, he says the bear approached four different groups of people. All tried to scare the bear away, but it wouldn’t leave easily.
The first bear went into someone's home near Lynne Canyon Park through the glass sliding doors (no one was hurt). It then tried to go into another home the same way. Conservation officers trapped and killed the bear. @NEWS1130 pic.twitter.com/MXV2LCVQlm
— Lauren Boothby (@laurby) July 7, 2019
Schoenthal says he tried to give the bear time and space to move along, but it kept coming back to people. He says this type of behaviour is very unusual, and the bear was probably being fed.
“It’s showing an aggressive nature, and very high level of habituation around people,” he says. “The bear, through all these interactions showed no fear of anybody.”
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In the final scenario, it quietly approached two women at a picnic table from behind.
“I then managed to scare the bear away again, however this time the bear only went four or five feet, and then the bear had charged me, leaving me with no option but to have to destroy the bear,” he says.
“It was certainly alarming, absolutely. It got about as close as three feet.”
Bear enters home in Lynn Canyon
Conservation officers were able to trap a second bear after it went into a home on Phyllis Road near Lynn Canyon Park through the glass sliding doors on June 30, and then tried to go inside a second one the same way.
While seeing wildlife in that area is common — it’s a wildlife corridor, so animals pass through there frequently — Schoenthal says this kind of interaction is not.
“A bear of this level, it needs to be removed, it’s an immediate public safety risk when a bear starts entering homes, thinking that it can get food,” he says. “Fortunately that bear was trapped that day and then destroyed.”
The RCMP had found out earlier that day that a bear had been eating garbage and other attractants on neighbouring properties, but that’s not something the conservation service was aware of.
“Without reports of a bear in the neighbourhood accessing attractants, we cant have any proactive measures, such as getting out there and dealing with the attractants that are readily available for the black bears,” he says.
Don’t feed the bears
The bears’ behaviour in both of these scenarios were unusual, and both are cases where the bears had learned to rely on getting food from humans.
Schoenthal says he hopes this can serve as a reminder not to feed wildlife in parks.
“Bears don’t typically have this behaviour naturally in them to approach people, and to be comfortable around people. It usually occurs in situations like this where it is a highly-populated area,” he says. “Given what the bear’s activity was, it just seems to line up with the bear having been fed in the past.”
He also says you can prevent bears from coming onto your property by removing attractants like fallen fruit, and keeping garbage bins indoors except during pickup times.
– With files from Monika Gul