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'Not humane': Group calls for B.C. conservation officers to close bear traps during heat wave

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Updated story: BCCOS says no culvert traps are currently set in the province. Read more here.

An animal welfare organization is calling on provincial conservation officers to close all bear traps as B.C. deals with a record-breaking heat wave.

Temperatures have soared in the province in recent days, with some regions getting hotter than 40 C and breaking decades-old records

The B.C. Bear Alliance, a group working to address human-bear coexistence, said it wants to see the B.C. Conservation Officer Service stop using traps during the heat wave, like it has in previous years.

"We all know that dogs and children can't be left in cars in this kind of extreme heat even if you have the windows cracked and a bear in a baking tin is really no different," Sylvia Dolson told CTV News Vancouver. "It can cause stress to the bear and many times can be fatal."

The BCCOS told CTV in an emailed statement that it "understands people are passionate about the well-being of wildlife."

"Our agency takes the safety and welfare of bears in the field very seriously," BCCOS said.

"Conservation officers are trained in the proper handling and care of animals, which includes guidance from the provincial wildlife veterinarian."

The agency said culvert traps, which are essentially large tubes the bear enters, "will only be set when necessary to protect human safety." It said the traps are set in shaded or breezy areas "when possible," adding that traps are closed during the day "if temperatures are extreme."

CTV News is clarifying with BCCOS whether any traps were closed this week while heat warnings have been in place.

"It's really not humane to be trapping bears in these temperatures at all," Dolson said.

Earlier this month, the BCCOS said April, May and June saw the highest number of black bear calls to its Report All Poachers and Polluters line in 10 or more years. In total, there were nearly 9,000 calls over those three moths.

Provincial data shows officers attended about nine per cent of the calls. During those three months, 128 black bears were destroyed by BCCOS and one bear was translocated. 

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