A tragic incident that saw a sow and two cubs destroyed downtown Squamish on Sunday highlights the important role that every individual plays in adhering to the regulations in place and helping to create an environment where bears can co-exist safely within the community, says the district. The Conservation Officer Service (COS) exhausted every non-lethal management option available over several weeks before determining that these bears were not candidates for relocation.
“The bears had been persistently feeding on non-natural food and causing extensive property damage in the downtown area,” says Simon Gravel, Conservation Officer. “The level of food conditioning and habituation was very high. For this reason the cubs were not candidates for a care facility as per provincial policy.” (Alison Round picture)
The destruction of the bears was not the result of one incident or the fault of one business or one person. The decision was made based on the extended conflict history and property damage done. The bears were drawn to the significant amount of unnatural food sources available in the downtown area, both secured and unsecured.
The COS, District of Squamish and WildSafeBC are committed to working with all partners and members of the community to implement better strategies in order to avoid reaching this point in the future. “Bears have a keen sense of smell, are highly tempted by human sources of food, and can quickly become food-conditioned and less wary of humans,” says Vanessa Isnardy, WildSafeBC Coordinator. “Reducing conflicts with bears requires constant diligence from the community and requires everyone to be aware of the bylaws in place and make the effort to follow them.”
This list of best practices supports the Wildlife Attractant Bylaw and aims to increase public safety and prevent the destruction of bears by ensuring that bears are not attracted to non-natural food sources around homes or businesses.
10 ways to be Bear Smart:
- Keep organic waste inaccessible by locking totes and storing them in a garage or shed.
- Ensure totes remain secured and are not placed curbside until collection morning.
- Keep totes clean and thoroughly rinse recyclables.
- Wrap smelly items in newspaper and freeze until collection day.
- Burn off grease from barbecues and clean out grease traps after each use.
- Prune fruit trees over the winter and pick fruit and berries before fully ripe.
- Abide by bylaws; register chicken coops and apiaries, and install an electric fence.
- Report bear sightings to allow for early intervention by the Conservation Officer Service: 1-877-952-7277
- Report unsecured attractants to the District of Squamish: email@example.com or 604-815-5067
- Become better informed at squamish.ca/wildlife and wildsafebc.com.