A man from West Vancouver, B.C., has been charged with one count of feeding dangerous wildlife and one count of attracting dangerous wildlife after video surfaced of a family hand-feeding black bears from their home in 2018.
The B.C. Conservation Officer Service says the B.C. Wildlife Act prohibits such close contact with wild animals.
“The biggest concern for the [Conservation Officer Service] with respect to feeding dangerous wildlife is the serious risk to public safety, as well as the safety of the bear” said Chris Doyle, head of provincial operations for organization.
Doyle said when people feed bears or any wild animal, they can become conditioned to human food, putting the safety of the animal at risk.
“It also puts the individuals involved in the activity at risk of being hurt, or worse,” said Doyle.
The videos sparked outrage when they surfaced on Instagram and news reports. In one of the videos, two unidentified girls giggle when a bear cub swats at one of them after she gave it a cracker through an open patio door.
Another video shows a man, who appears to be their father, feed an adult-sized bear a full package of crackers through a screen door.
In 2019, 542 black bears and 26 grizzlies were killed by conservation officers in B.C. due to human conflict, according to provincial statistics.
The destruction of bears has caused issues in some communities, including a neighbourhood in Coquitlam where three people were charged last summer for allegedly obstructing a conservation officer who had been called to search for a family of black bears.
In August 2019, a B.C. man was fined $2,000 and ordered to stay 50 metres away from bears for six months after he posted photos of himself feeding Timbits and hot dogs to bears on social media.
Conservation officers said the man had been posting pictures on social media of himself feeding bears along the Alaska Highway since 2017.
The West Vancouver man is expected to appear in North Vancouver Provincial Court on July 29.