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 Posted in    |  on June 9th, 2017  |  by

Trio of bears destroyed in CastleRock

It’s easy to forget to bring in your garbage, it’s even easier to leave your barbecue uncleaned, and if you’re living in the Castle Rock community it seems especially easy to attract bears. Following a series of unfortunate events and an apparent switch to a non-bear-resistant garbage bin, three black bears were destroyed within 48 hours in the subdivision.

“Over the last week, I noticed that the bin in CastleRock was not a bear-resistant one; I believe both bins used to be bear-resistant. We asked Southeast (Disposal) to switch the bin back but unfortunately, the bears broke into it before it got replaced,” said Andrea Smillie, Wildsafe B.C. community coordinator for the

During the influx of weekend traffic on May longweekend residents and visitors quickly filled the non-bear-resistant bin and left garbage beside the bins, attracting three young bears to the area.

While Southeast Disposal has always coordinated well with the District of Invermere, Ms. Smillie said the district did not ask for the bins to be switched to a non-bear-resistant bin.

“We thought it was a standing protocol (having bear proof bins) with them and talking with the owner of the company, as well, he’s trying to find out why his staff member may have changed that,” said chief administrative officer for the district of Invermere Chris Prosser.

Throughout last week the three bears traipsed throughout CastleRock getting into garbages and roaming residents’ decks, stopping to get a lick of uncleaned barbecues.

“They’re coming out and moving through that community anytime during the day and night. People have attempted to scare them away which has been successful some of the times and sometimes not. When they’re not reacting to human presence we got involved because we consider this to be a public safety issue,” said Invermere conservation officer Greg Kruger.

Due to the three bears’ lack of fear and continued search of food throughout the neighbourhood conservation set a live trap to catch the bears. On the morning of June, 1st conservation caught the first black bear immediately destroying the animal. As the Columbia Valley has a healthy black bear population the animals could not be relocated, due to a lack of unclaimed black bear territory.

“When we go out to capture them, then basically they’re being targeted to be put down because they’ve learnt that behaviour. These bears don’t change,” said Mr. Kruger

Originally conservation was only aware of two problem bears — a black phase and a brown phase black bear, but later in the afternoon of June 1st conservation responded to reports of two bears roaming together. Within half an hour of responding to the first call of the pair of bears, a second call came in reporting a bear inside a home in CastleRock.

“Conservation officers (COs) attended, by the time we got there, which was pretty quick, but by the time we got there the resident was able to both scare and basically push the bear out, with a chair, out of an open door,” said Kruger. He went on to say “I can’t speak for the bear why (it went in the house). I’m not sure if it smelled something it was interested in but, again, there’s a high probability that was the case.”

Conservation officers located the suspect black bear and immediately put down the animal.

They then turned their attention to the brown phase bear and the live trap was reset. On the morning of June 2nd, the third and final problem bear was caught in the trap and destroyed by conservation officers.

“Our message to the public is please do your best to secure any non-natural food sources that these bears are going to be actively seeking out. We find that the spring and the fall are the peak periods for bear movement and searching for food sources, because they come out of their den, they’ve used up a lot of their fat reserves so they’re desperately trying to regain that health,” said Mr. Kruger.

With bears active in the community Mr. Kruger suggested to make the bears uncomfortable in the area by making loud noises, throwing things from a safe distance towards the bear and removing attractants, all of which could help reduce human- bear conflict in the area.

“We definitely don’t want to be doing this again,” said Mr. Kruger.

Conservation is reminding the public that they can and will fine people for unsecured attractants — a fine that can equate to a $230 ticket under the Wildlife Act. With the three bears destroyed last week Invermere’s total for black bears killed this year by conservation officers is now at four — already doubling last summer’s total of two. Currently, conservation is watching two bears — one roaming along 13th Avenue in Invermere and one in Columere park and the public is asked to report any sightings to conservation by calling the RAPP line 1-877-952-7277.

Nikki Fredrikson
Email: nikki@columbiavalleypioneer.com
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Nikki Fredrikson joined the Pioneer in after completing her bachelor of journalism major in public relations from Thompson Rivers University. She previously worked with the Pioneer as summer intern returning in early spring to experience more of what the Valley has to offer. If she's not in the office you'll find her covering an event, hiking the trails or kayaking on the lake.

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