VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – About 30 bears have been euthanized in the Tri-Cities area this year over concerns about conflict, the B.C. Conservation Officer Service says.
Sergeant Todd Hunter says call volumes have been higher, and while the percentage of bears that end up being put down is about the same as other years, it’s still too high.
“We try to educate, encourage those prevention strategies – that doesn’t work and we have to move on to enforcement,” he says. “Anecdotally we can say that it’s high – our goal is to reduce that number.”
Six bears were put down in the Lower Mainland last week, and five others were euthanized in Penticton in the fall.
“Compared to the last five years that I’ve supervised this area, I’ve seen an exponential growth of fairly serious incidents that involved us intervening, [like] bears in houses. There was a considerable number of those types of calls where we intervened and removed those bears indefinitely. It definitely was a bit of an issue,” Hunter says, adding it’s not just one thing causing the rise.
“We have increases of population, competition for space, we’ve got industry, we’ve got climate change, we’ve got a lot of variables like our weather patterns – a whole myriad of issues. Salmon not showing up, the berry crops. All that has an impact on wildlife in general. It goes up and down – this year is a fairly significant year.”
He notes it’s critical that everyone follow the recommendations for securing attractants to keep bears away.
Available food, like garbage, is so appealing to hungry bears that it can even keep them from hibernating. If bears have a food source, they’ll stay out of their dens and stay active for as long as they can.
And once the animals become used to human food and contact, they’re no longer suitable for relocation and have to be euthanized.
Hunter says the goal is always to reduce the number of bears being destroyed and keep the public safe.