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Officers to euthanize injured bear living off garbage in 100 Mile House

Residents asked to manage attractants to protect wildlife
A black bear helps itself to an unsecured bag of garbage. Reducing attractants can help limit human-bear encounters, dangerous to both parties. (Photo courtesy Wildsafe B.C.) A black bear helps itself to an unsecured bag of garbage. Reducing attractants can help limit human-bear encounters, dangerous to both parties. (Photo courtesy Wildsafe B.C.)

A mature bear hit by a vehicle the first week of September has become a problem in town and conservation officers are planning to euthanize it.

There have been numerous reports of it tipping garbage, getting into attractants and maybe one or two composts.

There have also been reports of it killing cats, something conservation officer Murray Booth is unable to confirm.

Conservation Officer Service (COS) and RCMP searched for the bear but could not locate it after the bear was hit, which took place between Exeter Road and the Exeter truck route.

The bear has a severely injured front right paw and the garbage and fruit trees provide an easy food source for it.

“It is trying to be a bear and all bears want to do right now is eat,” he said.

Each bear is individually assessed before COS decides what to do with it.

This one is now habituated to garbage so it will be put down. It is not aggressive to people at this time, he said.

One of the biggest problems in dealing with the bear is it is active at night between the hours of 11 p.m. and 3 a.m. when conservation officers typically do not patrol.

The second problem is that the bear is in an urban setting around a lot of homes.

“Trapping so far has been unsuccessful we are working on it and thinking (of) new strategies.”

The service does have to put down bears from time to time in this type of setting but everything has to be perfect before they do it, said Booth.

They need to be sure the bear is killed and not just injured. Shooting in the dark around homes, conservation officers have to be aware of anything that could go wrong.

‘Put the two together and it is very stressful,” Booth said, explaining they have to be 100 percent confident that things are going to go right when they do it. The bear does not seem to have a pattern, making it harder to track and it has access to garbage and fruit on the trees and ground.

He urges residents to manage attractants, adding the onus is on people to keep their garbage in a secure location where a bear cannot get at it. They also need to pick up fruit on the ground.

Bears cannot be relocated in this situation for a couple of reasons, according to Booth.

“No matter where the bear is relocated, no matter how far away, he is going to find another source of garbage,” he said. Moving them puts the problem in someone else’s backyard.

The other problem in relocating a bear is they will wind up in another bear’s territory, something the resident bear will not take kindly to as it adds more competition for limited resources.

Booth listed precautions residents can take.

Keep your garbage in a secure location until the morning of pickup. Manage other attractants such as barbecues, composts and bird feeders.

Bears love suet feeders. Suet is pork fat with seeds, making it high calorie and high fat content. At this time of year they are trying to get as many calories in as they can, he said.

Feeders should not go up until late December and come down in April.

He does not recommend leaving garbage in vehicles as bears have been known to tear doors off.

“They are curious and if they smell something they figure is good enough for them to eat, they will try to get at it,” he said.

Messy vehicles with food wrappers can also attract bears with their powerful sense of smell.

He said sprinkling a few drops of bleach over the top of a garbage can and recyclables can help as the smell bothers them. They must still be contained in a secure area, however.

Try to keep compost piles inaccessible to bears or have a contained compost. The use of an electric fence is one of the best deterrents around trees, composts, chicken coops, and pig pens.

READ MORE: Two bear cubs recovering after being found near 100 Mile

“We do have options. We can charge people for leaving garbage out. We can issue dangerous wildlife protection orders telling people they must clean their garbage up. We can be very demanding and tight on guidelines for that, “ said Booth.

“No matter how you look at it, we are in their yard.”

Fines range from $230-575. Booth added that they were told a few years back to hold people accountable for managing their attractants as there are too many bears being killed each year.

Booth asks the public to call with any sightings on the RAPP line. He believes option 1 is the quickest way to get an operator. They do not monitor social media so if they do not get calls they do not know what is going on. He said people may get frustrated not getting a callback but each report is listened to.

Call the RAPP Line 24/7 at 1-877-952-7277 to report any sightings.

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Fiona Grisswell

About the Author: Fiona Grisswell

I graduated from the Writing and New Media Program at the College of New Caledonia in Prince George in 2004.
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