Bears shot in Trail

Historically with black bears, conservation doesn't have the time or resources available to relocate the bruins.

A mother bear and her cub were shot in Sunningdale Wednesday morning.

RCMP Sgt. Darren Oelke confirmed an officer and his police dog attended the scene alongside two conservation officers.

“This was conservation’s call and their decision to shoot the bears or not,” Oelke told the Trail Times. “They are swamped with bear calls today (Wednesday),” he added. “And went from Sunningdale to Warfield to the school, and then to Salmo’s school.”

Oelke says historically with black bears, conservation doesn’t have the time or resources available to relocate the bruins.

Relocated black bears often return many miles to the exact location and resume the same behaviour, he added.

The Trail Times has made numerous calls to the B.C. Conservation Officer Service since the summer, but to date, all queries have gone unanswered.

“Too often we concentrate on the outcome (either the destruction of the bears, or their hazing or relocation) and we gloss over the underlying reasons why this action had to be taken on in the first place,” says Frank Ritcey, provincial coordinator for WildsafeBC.

The more important question, is “Why does this happen?”

“If people were to manage their attractants properly (garbage, fruit trees, bird feeders, pet food, etc.) then there would be little reason for a bear to be in an urban setting at all,” Ritcey explained.

Sharon Wieder, from Rossland/Trail WildsafeBC, has mentioned many of the area’s residents are very good at managing their attractants, he added. “But all it takes is a few people who are not working at “keeping wildlife wild and communities safe” to undo the good the others have done.”

Compared to 2014, WildsafeBC has documented a spike in local bear calls his year. According to the organization’s data, 47 bear reports from the Rossland/Trail area came in August compared to 3 in 2014, and September’s call volume more than doubled to 76 from 33 last year.

He says a spring with lots of green grass and wild food for bears followed by an early berry crop kept bear calls low until mid-summer.

“However, the long hot dry summer had berry crops finishing early in most parts of the province and this has prompted bears to look elsewhere for food,” Ritcey said. “Unfortunately they look to our backyards and when they are rewarded with unsecured garbage or unpicked fruit they are going to stick around.”

WildSafeBC is a program designed to reduce human-wildlife conflict through education, innovation and cooperation. For information, visit wildsafebc.com or call 250.828.2551.