By Pioneer Staff
Two adult bears and two cubs have been shot and killed near Invermere after a bear break-in and multiple close encounters on a well-travelled school route.
Officers from the Columbia Valley RCMP were forced to shoot a 300-pound black bear on Thursday, September 13th, that had been roaming the area near Eileen Madson Primary School.
The bear which spent three days in the streets surrounding the school was caught rummaging through garbage in the 1700 block of 13th Avenue.
It was coming through the neighbourhood at night and nothing was scaring it off, said Crystal Leonard, Invermere Bear Aware Community Coordinator. Once a bear becomes a garbage bear, even if you transport it away, 90 per cent of the time it will return.
After receiving multiple complaints about the bear, the officers made the decision to destroy the animal, due to concern for public safety, said Marko Shehovac, of the Columbia Valley RCMP.
A second bear encounter in the area came on Tuesday, September 18th, when the owners of a house near Wilmer returned home to find the downstairs in disarray. A bear or multiple bears gained entry to the property via a sliding door left ajar for the family cat, Ms. Leonard explained.
The next day, a sow and two cubs returned to the same house, she added. This time, the sliding door was closed so they broke a couple of window screens, the sliding door and demolished the balcony railing.
The three bears were trapped and euthanized by the Conservation Officer Service on Wednesday, September 19th.
The bear break-in near Wilmer was the second in recent weeks, after a male black bear had to be destroyed after breaking through a sliding door in the area on September 5th.
This is what happens when you leave doors open, Ms. Leonard said. We need to reiterate that residents must keep all windows and doors shut,
On average just over 600 bears are destroyed in British Columbia each year due to bear-human conflict, Ms. Leonard said. That number has dropped from more than 1,000 bears killed annually just a few years ago, thanks, in part, to programs like Bear Aware educating people about managing attractants, she added.