A black bear sow was destroyed last week (May 1) near Fort Rupert.
The animal was food-conditioned, which means it knew where to get high-caloric food — a lot more efficient than huffing down huckleberries for an animal that needs upwards of 8,000 calories a day this time of year.
A food-conditioned bear sees unnatural food sources as their own, and will defend them as such. This can pose a risk to humans, forcing the B.C. Conservation Officer Service to deem the creature as dangerous, and destroy it.
“It’s really something we try to put out of our mind at the end of the day,” said Conservation Officer Brad Adams.
They say ‘destroy’ instead of ‘put down’ because when an animal is put down, it’s for its own good. Maybe it’s sick or injured, Adams said. But with a food-conditioned bear, it’s for our own good.
“There’s no way to really sugar coat what it is,” he said.
The province has a protocol that clearly outlines non-lethal options for bears, such as hazing or relocation. But a food-conditioned bear is very likely to seek out a town again, even if it’s relocated.
It takes a bear a whole day of berry eating to get full. But a quick hit of dog food, or a compost/garbage meal is far more filling, in much shorter time. Bears who learn this caloric shortcut will come back for more.
“It just takes one person who doesn’t store their food properly,” Adams said.
“The bear will find that attractant. They are opportunistic. We really want the community to understand why the bears behave as they do, so that we can understand how to live with wildlife around us.”
A total of 665 bears were destroyed last year by conservation officers in B.C.
Report bear sightings immediately to the Conservation Officer Service’s 24 hour hotline at 1-877-952-7277.
WildSafeBC keeps records of reported sightings on its Wildlife Alert Reporting Program (WARP). Visit https://warp.wildsafebc.com/warp/
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