‘Life and death decisions’ Animal rights organization calls for measures to protect young bears

Conservation officers killed 77 juvenile bears in 2021, including two in the Tri-Cities.

Those killings are indicative of systemic problems, according to a release from The Fur-Bearers.

The role of conservation officers is related to public safety, noted Fur-Bearers executive director Lesley Fox.

“But the records show killings of bear cub that were not related to public safety; we also read other incidents in which cubs [that] were killed for their ‘poor health’ were not visually evaluated by qualified individuals,” Fox stated in a release.

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The organization, which advocates for environmental preservation and animal protection, lodged a formal complaint with B.C. Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy last Friday.

COS response

The complaint is being reviewed, according to a statement from the B.C. Conservation Officer Service.

“Putting down any bear or cub is an unfortunate outcome that we work so hard to prevent,” the organization stated.

Situations are assessed based on a myriad of factors including public safety, the animal’s ability to survive in the wild, according to COS.

“In some cases, animals are also put down for humane reasons,” COS stated.

Relocation is not always a viable option, according to COS.

“Bears and cubs that are habituated to humans or conditioned to non-natural food sources are not candidates for relocation or rehabilitation,” COS stated.

Tri-Cities incidents

Records obtained by the Fur-Bearers through a freedom of information request chronicle a yearling bear killed in Coquitlam in June, 2021.

Incident #1

A “scrawny” black bear was knocking over bins and getting into garbage in Coquitlam, according to Conservation Officer Service. The bear stayed in a residential area for several days, entering garages and attempting to get into homes.

While still mobile, the bear had an injured front leg and wasn’t able to pub weight onto it.

The bear was destroyed.

Incident #2

A juvenile black bear was killed in Port Coquitlam after being discovered living under a Port Coquitlam sundeck in late November.

The resident who alerted COS realized that planks had been missing from her sundeck for “a few days.”

There were no visible attractants.

Conservation officers used a siren to roust the black bear, leading to the animal to run to a forested area nearby.

However, two weeks after the first visit, conservation officers were called back when it was reported that the bear was back under the deck. Conservation officers arrived on the scene to find the black bear on a pile of garbage in the backyard. It was garbage day. The report also noted a flipped over bin nearby.

Conservation officers eventually trapped and killed the bear.

Close observation needed

Third-party oversight of the B.C. COS is: “essential to public safety and the protection of British Columbia’s environment,” according to a statement from the Fur-Bearers.

A biologist, veterinarian or rehabilitation specialist might be more capable of making “life and death decisions” in instances where there’s no public safety risk, according to the complaint issued by the Fur-Bearers.

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