Four bears are dead and Salmon Arm residents are to blame.
That’s the message from the BC Conservation Service.
“We had hoped they’d move on, but they didn’t,” Conservation Officer Service Staff Sgt. Terry Myroniuk says, of an earlier decision by the Conservation Service to let the mother bear and her three cubs graze in the city’s green spaces and head up neighbouring mountains as natural food sources became available there.
But that didn’t happen.
“The reason for that is Salmon Arm is doing a terrible job at bear prevention.”
Myroniuk says when conservation officers came to the city to dispatch the bears, which had sparked 30 complaint calls, they were mortified by the amount of attractants available to the bears.
“There was a problem with mama getting into garbage and bird feeders,” he said noting the bears appeared to be heading out but kept returning to the easy, human food sources.
And, while she had not yet shown any aggressive behaviour, the family of bears was sticking close to both a school and a childcare centre.
“It was a whole neighbourhood that failed that family of bears,” Myroniuk says, pointing out conservation officers hate having to euthanize the bears, but are well-aware of what happens when they become habituated.
Not only are they forced to do something they hate, conservation officers then have to deal with the explosion of hate comments posted on social media.
He explains that relocating bears does not often work and that there is documented evidence bears will travel as far as 600 kilometres to get back to their home territories and easily accessible food supply.
As well as putting bears in another bears’ territory, if they have become habituated to garbage and other attractants, they may not know how to find natural food sources and are less adept at natural foraging because some of them think foraging is going to look for more garbage.
“The answer is dealing with the attractants, but people don’t get it,” Myroniuk says with frustration. “And it only takes one person in a neighbourhood to attract them.”
Myroniuk says it is exceedingly important the members of the public call the RAPP (Report All Poachers and Polluters) at 1-877-952-7277 or #7277 on a mobile phone if they see anyone feeding the bears or leaving attractants where bears can gain access. He asks that anyone who uses the RAPP line provide information such as a licence plate or name and address if the individual is known to them.