Advocacy group says more education is needed as bear killings continue to rise
PORT MOODY, B.C. -- An advocacy group says a bear that entered a home in Port Moody and was spotted multiple times in the neighbourhood should have been relocated, not killed.
The black bear had been frequenting the Wilkes Creek area on Sunday, June 6. The BC Conservation Officer Service says the bear was not a candidate for relocation as it was acting dangerously, including charging at a man in his backyard and entering an occupied home.
“The adult bear displayed habituated and food-conditioned behaviour, which showed no fear of people,” BCCOS spokesperson Sgt. Todd Hunter said in an email to CTV News.
“The escalating behaviour of this bear was very concerning to conservation officers and an extreme public safety risk,” Hunter added. “We understand people are passionate about wildlife but this bear was not a candidate for relocation – the risk to the public was simply far too great.”
Residents who live in the Wilke Creek area tell CTV News Vancouver that bear sightings have become more common in recent years.
“I’m really afraid,” said resident Leyla Roshansad. “I don’t know what I would do if I saw them.”
“I think neighbours may not put their trash inside and that’s why it attracts them,” Roshansad added.
The B.C. Bear Alliance said food is not the only reason bears are drawn to communities.
“Being in a human environment, bears are smart, they recognize that they’re safe from the larger and more competitive bears that may kill a cub or injure one,” said alliance member Ellie Lamb. “They stay away from predators while they’re healing from a broken leg or raising their kids. That is the best strategy and it’s a smart strategy as well.”
According to the provincial Ministry of Environment, roughly 520 black bears have been killed by conservation officers in B.C. since April 2020.
The B.C. Bear Alliance is calling for more education and understanding on how to coexist with the animals in a much more peaceful way.
“We’re pushing to have more ethical and humane considerations towards these animals,” said Lamb. “This little guy did not know what he was allowed to do and not allowed to do, and he was never given the chance to learn.”
She said coexisting with bears should include giving them the opportunity to leave when they get too close.
“Be very clear in communication with the bear, use tone and raise your voice so they can hear you,” Lamb said. “If they get too close to you, throw a rock or a hiss of bear spray. The bear needs to understand that when you ask them to leave, they will leave, which is what they would prefer to do.”
The conversation officer service is also asking people to securely store garbage, pet food, bird seed and other attractants, to help prevent bears and other wildlife from accessing them.