A black bear seen at a resident's bird feeder by the Rotary Trail along the Vedder River in Chilliwack on Oct. 7, 2020. (William Snow photo)

EDITORIAL: Conservation officers don’t kill bears – we do

It’s storybook thinking to believe urbanized bears can be relocated to a leafy place in the forest.

A mother bear and three cubs were destroyed last Saturday morning following a frightening incident in a Princeton neighbourhood.

A conservation officer, who had set a trap for a bear that was reported after it tried to break into a shed, was surprised to realize an entire family of black bears was involved.

At least one cub entered the trap, putting the CO between the captured cub and the sow.

Shots were fired and all four bears were put down.

That’s got to be a wrenching experience for someone who is trained and educated to protect wildlife, as well as enforce the law.

Considerable outrage erupted on social media after a story about the incident appeared online. Just in October the same happened in Chilliwack when a bear that was captured, relocated and returned had to be euthanized.

READ MORE: Public safety of Chilliwack residents cited as young bear euthanized

These conservation officers did not kill those bears. We did.

The bears died because they had become habituated to non-natural food sources. That is simply down to the people who leave out their garbage, don’t tidy up after their fruit trees, and place attractants like bird seed in their backyards.

It would be lovely in a storybook-sort-of-way to think that bears who are urbanized can be happily relocated to a green, leafy place in the forest.

Only that doesn’t work.

Bears dependent on human food usually fail in the wilderness. Even if they are dropped a hundred kilometres away, they often return to their urban territory.

The idea persists that bears don’t hurt anyone. That’s probably because they are fuzzy and adorable looking.

The facts are that at least 17 people have been killed by bears in the province in the last 24 years and more than 200 were injured. Bears are wild animals. They need, and deserve, to live in the wild.

Yes, they were here first. But we are here now and we aren’t moving.

Therefore physical distancing is required.

Let’s try to do better with our own behaviour, to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

– Black Press Media

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