North Shore resident Nancy Bleck and her neighbours in Deep Cove are mourning the death of a local black bear, a female they affectionately knicknamed Plum, after a bear was euthanized on Wednesday afternoon by the B.C. Conservation Officer Service.
The bear’s death is also sparking calls for more education to prevent bear-human conflicts in Metro Vancouver neighbourhoods.
On Wednesday, Bleck said she learned that a conservation officer was about to put down a black bear near her home and rushed to the area near Beachview Drive. But it was too late and the bear had already been shot.
“I’m shaken. I’m angry. I’m sad. I’m trembling. I had a relationship with this bear. This bear was on my driveway last week, was in my backyard a few days before that. This was not an aggressive bear. She was co-existing with us and we did her a great disservice.”
Another neighbour, Viki Ashman, said she was ready to put herself in front of the bear to prevent it from being killed.
“I raced down there when I heard that he was carrying the rifle because I was quite frankly going to put myself between the bear and the conservation people and do what I can to make her run.”
Now the two women want to start a door-knocking campaign to educate neighbours about leaving out unlocked garbage too long before it is to be picked up and how to prevent conflict with wildlife.
Poor attractant management
Inspector Murray Smith of the B.C. Conservation Officer Service said they are still trying to determine whether the black bear euthanized was in fact “Plum” or another black bear that also frequents the same area in Deep Cove.
Smith said the euthanized bear had been focusing mostly on human food sources and had been pushing on a window at a home Wednesday when the resident called the Conservation Service, concerned the bear was going to get in the house.
“Based on the behaviour to date and the situation that we had this morning, we euthanized the bear.”
The Ministry of Environment also issued a statement which said the Conservation Officer Service ran out of non-lethal options in dealing with the animal.
Smith said members of the public need to take control of their neighbourhoods to prevent other incidents.
“At the end of the day, this really isn’t about the actions the conservation officers took, it’s really about the inaction of the public and managing their attractants. It’s the public that needs to pick their fruit, secure their garbage and do all the things we’ve been saying for decades.”
More bear troubles
Human-bear conflicts in B.C. have been on the rise as hibernation season for bears approaches. A black bear recently entered the lobby at the Four Seasons Hotel in Whistler and was caught on camera.
In another incident, jogger Kendra Chin was tapped on the leg by black bear on the Coquitlam Crunch Trail on August 29 and the incident was caught on a cellphone camera.
The video shows the bear getting closer to the woman and eventually extending a paw to her leg before jumping back.
Chin said she was panicking and didn’t know what to do.
“I was freaked out when it was starting to approach me. I didn’t know if it was going to come right at me and attack me or just walk past. So I took my chance and I just stood there and it scratched me on my knee and that was it,” said Chin.
That section of the trail has been closed as conservation officers attempt to trap the black bear.
“It was cute but at the same time scary,” said Chin.