A Montrose couple is repairing their shed after a bear tore into the door and siding looking for food.
Bill and Gwen Sloman are in shock. They have lived with bears for many years and never had a problem escalate to such a level before.
“I didn’t think anything of it, just that it was making a bit of a mess, that’s all,” said Bill, surveying the damage Tuesday. “I never ever thought he’d go into a solid wall and tear that out, that was a surprise.”
The Slomans lock their garbage in their shed, perhaps a measure first taken while living in Rossland years ago. But the padlock didn’t stop the bruin, who tore the door right off the frame twice and then after the door was repaired, opted to go straight through the wall.
“It’s bad right where we are because we’re right on the edge of the south-end of Montrose overlooking the valley,” explained Gwen. “I’ve always been sympathetic with the bears, but when they start tearing the house down, it gets a little ridiculous.”
Montrose village staff are currently researching existing B.C. municipal bear bylaws to determine a direction that is suitable for the village and is creating a newsletter to inform residents of cautions to take at home and who to call if a problem arises.
The Slomans managed to get through to Report All Poacher and Polluters (RAPP), the provincial body that takes complaints.
Conservation officer Blair Thin got involved once the bear damaged the home and was deemed a threat. He put a large baited culvert with a trap mechanism out Monday and left it until Thursday, when he decided to take it down to ensure another wild, innocent animal doesn’t get what was coming for the habituated bruin.
“The next bear that wanders through Montrose might be completely innocent, a wild bear that just happens to be sniffing daffodils in the Sloman’s backyard and walks into my trap and gets destroyed for absolutely no reason,” he explained.“We don’t relocate these black bears because they can’t be relocated. You can’t put the wild back into these habituated bears.”
Though the Slomans manage their garbage, Thin said it only takes one resident to slip for the entire neighbourhood or even the community to have a problem bear.
“The danger of living in these fringe areas, where you’re surrounded by wildlife, is you have to be extra cognisant of the attractants in your backyard – whether it’s garbage, fruit trees, pet food, barbecues or bird feeders,” he said.
“Garbage doesn’t have any sort of nutrition value,” he added. “All it does is associate an attractant or food source with humans, which promotes conflict between wildlife and us.”
Thin is stretched thin in the area he covers, a one-man job temporarily.
Though he’s based out of Castlegar, Thin covers the area from the U.S. Border to north of Nakusp, and from Kootenay Pass west to Paulson Pass.
He’s not the “bear police” but rather an environmental officer, keeping tabs on anything from pesticide vendors, open burning to hunting regulations.
“I love wild animals as much as anyone else but when they’re in your backyard eating your pets, it’s not a good thing,” he said.
His public safety mandate recently brought him to Robson, where three male juvenile cougars were destroyed.
He was called to Robson Tuesday afternoon where one cougar snacked on a dog chained up in a yard. He managed to destroy this cat, before tracking down and killing another located 40 yards away up a tree. He then used both carcases to attract the third, which was killed as well.
“I’ve been doing this for 15 years and I’ve never come across three male juveniles in one group hunting during the day,” he said.
To report a problem animal call RAPP at 1-877-952-7277.