After warnings from the conservation service about not securing food sources, a family of bears met a sad ending last week.
Conservation officer Dave Webster put down three bears on Thursday night around midnight after the bears were causing a ruckus by Perley Elementary School. The family, a mother and two cubs, were killing chickens and chased the property owners back into their home after the owners attempted to scare them off.
Webster said the incident was the unfortunate culmination of dozens of complaints about the animals over the course of a month or so. Webster said the family of bears was aggressive to both the property owners as well as RCMP on the scene, so the decision was made to put the bears down.
“They were not leaving, and they were not tolerating people trying to push them off their food source,” he said. “They were not candidates for relocation by any stretch of the imagination, and because those sources were available, they did not leave and we had to out them down.”
The decision was made on the scene because the aggression was a threat to public safety. In addition to Thursday’s incident, Webster said he had also received reports of the bears attempting to enter homes and sheds and walking in the street during daylight.
Contrary to commentary on social media, Webster said relocating bears which pose a threat is nearly impossible—especially when cubs are involved.
“Bears are much like people. They are going to take the path of least resistance. Garbage and compost and fruit trees are easy. It is almost impossible to [relocate] an adult bear. It is even more impossible when a cub has been raised by a sow feeding on those unnatural sources,” Webster said. “If you never taught your kids to cook or make their bed or clean, and try to make them live on their own, good luck.”
Webster said dealing with problem bears is “the worst part” of his job.
“To have to go and be faced with that … I got into this job because I love wildlife. I worked with black bears for 23 years and I dealt with hundreds. The last thing I want to do is put them down, especially a family unit,” he said. “It is an emotional issue and I know the community is going to be upset, but no one is more upset about it than I am.”
Once again, Webster said he encourages people to clean up their yards, keep attractants under lock and key and consider the future of the bears. It’s critical to the health of the community and the health of the bears.
“Continuing on this path will result in more bear deaths. We are perpetuating the problem. We are taking one more step towards a bear being destroyed,” he said.