FILE – Black bears who get into people’s trash can be dangerous, conservation officers warn. (Black Press Media files)

Coquitlam mayor ‘heartbroken,’ but says not to ‘vilify’ COS after death of bear family

Three bears euthanized after getting habituated

The mayor of Coquitlam is “heartbroken” and frustrated, after a mother bear and her two cubs were euthanized Tuesday.

B.C.’s Conservation Officer Service told Black Press Media earlier this week that the sow and seven-month-old cubs were euthanized because they were no longer fearful of humans and were habituated to human garbage.

In a social media post Sunday, Mayor Richard Stewart said this bear family had been an ongoing issue for his city that could have been prevented if people reported bear sightings to conservation officers, instead of posting videos on Facebook.

“It appears there was an opportunity to get that family of bears back into Mundy Park or back into the ravines to forage for natural food (blackberries are currently in abundance),” Stewart wrote.

:But those who vilify COS and instead post cute bear videos ended up wasting that opportunity, and unwittingly signed the death sentence for a beautiful sow and her two playful cubs.”

Stewart said the city first heard about the concerns over a bear family in Chineside in May.

Over the following weeks, Stewart said, conservation officers tried to trap and relocate the bears who had “formed a routine of visiting these particular homes.”

Steward said that over the following weeks and months, the city sent out literature on how to avoid bear-human conflicts to 600 homes in the Chineside area of Coquitlam and increased nighttime patrols for early garbage set-out.

However, by early July there had been three bear-human interactions in Mundy Park. Conservation officers set a trap in the area, and banned food from the park.

Conservation officers saw and chased the bears again on July 24, but were unable to catch them.

On July 26, Stewart said the bears entered a home in the area, showing conservation officers “the bears could not be safely relocated, as they were too acclimated to human garbage and had no fear of humans.”

On July 30, all three bears were killed.

Three people were arrested for interfering with the conservation officers’ work and are facing charges under theWildlife Act.

READ MORE: B.C. Conservation Service defends three arrests as officers shoot problem bears

Stewart said while he understood why the people were upset about the bears being killed, the conservation officers had no choice but to euthanize the bears.

“I’m heartbroken that these bears are being killed,” he said.

“But please don’t blame COS, who really have no choice once a bear is habituated to human garbage and shows no fear of humans.”

The B.C. Conservation Officer Service recommends securing all trash, picking fruit on the property and reporting all bear encounters to the RAPP line at 1-877-952-7277.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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