A black bear believed to have accidentally hitched a ride all the way into downtown Vancouver will not be put down, despite having developed an apparent taste for trash

Bear expert Danny Catt from the British Columbia Institute of Technology said the animal's journey appears to have started while it was snacking on scraps somewhere on the North Shore.

"Theory is it actually came over in the dumpster or in the truck," Catt said.

The animal has been tagged and will be released Tuesday into the Squamish-Whistler area, but there is concern it could head right back into another urban area before settling in for hibernation.

"At this time of year they're trying to maximize their calorie intake in order to make it through the winter time," Catt said. "If they do get the goods from the garbage, they may come back."

The year-and-a-half old bruin caused a stir Monday afternoon when it turned up on top of a garbage truck at the corner of Cambie and Georgia streets, a busy intersection in the heart of B.C.'s biggest city.

Police cars swarmed the truck as the visibly anxious bear drew a large crowd of onlookers. A conservation officer arrived shortly and tranquilized the animal, which clung to the side of the truck as the drugs took effect.

An officer pet the bear as it slowly drifted off and released its grip. The crowd cheered at the bear's safe removal, but the outcome isn't always as uplifting.

In October, three bear cubs and their sow were caught dining in a middle school dumpster in Coquitlam. The cubs were sent for rehabilitation, but conservation officers said the mother was too habituated to human food and had to be terminated.

A week later, Jeanie, a bear well-known among locals in Whistler, was put down for the same reason.

About 600 bears are destroyed in B.C. annually.