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Trap set for habituated bear in Ucluelet

“It’s not the bear we have to educate, it’s the people.”

A bear that locals had hoped would make its way through Ucluelet without trouble has become habituated and will likely be killed.

Conservation Officer Steve Ackles was in Ucluelet on Wednesday and told the Westerly News a trap has been set for the bear because it has accessed unsecured, non-natural food and become hooked on that food enough to start breaking into structures to find it.

“We’re trying to keep the public safe and save bears and people have to help us,” he said.

“People have to clearly understand, I might have ended that animal’s life, but they killed it. There’s no getting around that. This is a world of accountability and they have to wear it. They killed the bear. If they’re not managing their attractants, it’s them that killed it.”

Locals began spotting the bear in town roughly three weeks ago and the Conservation Officer Service hoped it would get through the area without accessing any unnatural attractants.

“At that time, the bear was exhibiting some low-level habituated behaviour and we hadn’t had any information that it had accessed garbage or non-natural food sources,” Ackles said. “Unfortunately, it has accessed non-natural food sources and it has broken into structures so we have set a trap for that bear. The habituation level has increased, so that bear is at the point where it’s probably going to be removed, meaning destroyed.”

He expressed frustration that attractants were left unsecured and urged locals to make animals feel unwelcome in town and keep their garbage secured, their barbecues clean and all bird feeders put away.

“It’s not the bear we have to educate, it’s the people,” he said. “If people would have thrown rocks, used airhorns, banged pots and pans and [the bear] did not access non-natural food sources, meaning garbage and bird seed and that kind of thing, it’s behaviour more than likely would not have escalated and it probably would have gone back to natural food sources. I’ve seen it turn out that way many times in my career…That’s not what happened here.”

He said West Coasters should be aware that their garbage cannot be left out and accessible to wildlife.

“People just aren’t listening. I don’t know if it’s laziness or if it’s apathy or what it is. We’ve been doing this too long and messaging this for too long for it not to sink in. People just don’t want to listen. It’s too much of an intrusion on their life to put the garbage out the day of pickup or put it in a shed,” he said.

“It’s not the animals that have to coexist with us, it’s us that have to coexist with the animals. The animals don’t have to change, we have to change. It’s not until an animal, like a bear or a wolf, becomes conditioned to human food sources and habituated to people, that it becomes a public threat because it starts defending that non natural food source, or it sees the human associated with that food source.”

He said locals must “step up to the plate” by ensuring their attractants are secured and animals aren’t allowed to feel comfortable in town. He encourages anyone looking for information on how to co-exist with wildlife to check out

Andrew Bailey

About the Author: Andrew Bailey

I arrived at the Westerly News as a reporter and photographer in January 2012.
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