A bear was shot in Ucluelet this month and another is on death row because of poor attractant management, according to the B.C. Conservation Officer Service.
“We’re the people that, unfortunately, have to end the bear’s life, but the people that don’t manage their attractants are the ones that really kill them,” Conservation Officer Steve Ackles told the Westerly News. “It is frustrating that one bear was put down and there’s probably going to be at least one more.”
Ackles said the bear was killed on July 15 after causing problems at both the Lost Shoe and Surf Junction campgrounds.
“It had actually gone into some tents, no one was in the tents at the time, and then jumped on top of the hood of a car when people were in the car,” he said adding he’s spoken to both campground’s managers about attractants being left out.
“They’re doing the best they can…They are continually improving, but you do have tourist campers.”
He said he’s advised local campgrounds to adopt zero tolerance policies and kick out any tourists who leave food out. He added that the fine for failing to secure wildlife attractants is $250.
“If we see campers doing that, leaving food unattended, we will be issuing tickets in most circumstances,” he said. “The message is out and there’s going to be fewer warnings.”
Bear activity has also increased in town and a trap has been set for a bear that’s been breaking into sheds to access garbage and become difficult to scare away. It reportedly tore into a shed and hung around a resident’s deck last week, according to Ackles.
“Once a bear has gone through that progression where it’s gotten garbage prior to that and it goes to the effort of breaking into a shed, that’s a higher habituated behaviour so we do have a trap set in those locations reported for that bear,” he said.
He said the bear being targeted has eluded capture for over a month.
“It’s kind of slippery. It doesn’t want to go into the trap. It’s been seen near our traps. We’ve moved the trap and what we’re were doing is putting in more enticing bait,” he said. “We do have other means in order to move them [bears] out of the area, which means destroy them.”
He suggested bears that don’t find easy access to garbage rarely enter human areas and that Ucluelet must make attractant management a priority.
“Bears that are never habituated and food conditioned, they just stay on their natural food source. They don’t want to be around humans,” he said adding Ucluelet consistently improves its attractant management immediately after bear activity is reported, but that improvement is too-often short lived.
“Right after the news stories, everything’s cleaned up…It lasts a week or two weeks, then you see it fall down. It’s a 24-hour a day, 7- day a week, year-round effort we’ve got to be putting out.”
He urges locals to set positive examples for tourists to follow and to let visitors know when they’re putting wildlife in danger and to brush up on their knowledge by visiting WildSafeBC’s website.
“As somebody living in bear country, you should know the material in WildSafe and pass that along to the tourists,” he said. “Don’t let tourists do the wrong things.”
He asks anyone who spots a bear in town to immediately report their sighting to 1-877-952-7277.