Bears that remain in residential areas because of food sources are a threat to public safety.

Four bears trapped in Princeton and destroyed

“It’s not something that we want to do or look to do”

Four black bears trapped in the Town of Princeton in October were destroyed by conservation officers.

Euthanizing bears is a last but sometimes necessary resort, said Paul Pike, Conservation Officer from the Merritt detachment.

“It’s not something that we want to do or look to do,” he said. “It’s not very common and it’s certainly not the end result that we want to achieve. What we would really like is bears not having access to these non-natural food sources and they would move on.”

According to Pike the decision to set live traps for the bears was made based on numerous phone calls and complaints about bear activity in the community.

“There was some property damage done…and we got a complaint of a bear being aggressive to to a resident,” said Pike. “When a bear starts to access [food] and it starts to move around the community at all hours of the day and night, it starts to be a public safety concern.”

Pike said the full grown bears – three male and one female – were trapped in the Panorama Crescent area.

They were transported to a remote area and disposed of with a firearm.

Officers were unable to harvest any part of the animals or donate them.

“These bears have been getting access to human garbage. People throw all kinds of stuff into their garbage and they would not be safe for human consumption.”

Related: 2 charged for feeding B.C. bear Tim Hortons timbits

According to Pike, once a bear is used to sourcing human food, and begins to lose its fear of people, it cannot be properly relocated in the wilderness.

“I can give you a personal example that happened a few years ago. From a town close by here, I got a report of a bear causing property damage and I went and set a trap and caught a bear. The property owner said ‘that’s not the bear that’s causing the issue.’ So I ear-tagged that bear and, based on that information, I took that bear far away and let it go. Two years after I got a call from that same community that a bear’s causing property damage. I set a trap and I caught a bear…It was the same bear I removed from that town two years before.”

Related: Bear climbs inside B.C. family’s van with boy still inside

Pike said there was a sharp increase in reports of bears in town this year. Early in October “there were probably at least one or two a day…It’s dropped off dramatically in the last week for sure.”

To avoid this scenario in the future he said it is imperative that residents remove attractants from their properties.

That includes securing garbage and recycling indoors, not leaving freezers with food in them on back decks or in carports, keeping pet food indoors, cleaning barbecues and removing fruit from trees.

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andrea.demeer@similkameenspotlight.com

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