Hundreds of bears are being killed every year in B.C. by the provincial Conservation Officer Service (COS), an “unacceptable” amount, according to Aaron Hofman, director of advocacy and policy at the The Fur-Bearers, a wildlife charity that aims to protects fur-bearing animals.
Hofman was reacting to the decision to put down a female black bear after it walked through downtown Langley on Sunday, Sept. 24.
“We’re looking at a broken system where this is the status quo,” Hofman told the Langley Advance Times, “where hundreds of bears are being killed every year.”
Hofman pointed to COS figures posted online that show officers killed 151 black bears in August, a sharp rise compared to the next highest August in 2011, when 91 bears were killed.
Hofman said a “combination of factors” is to blame.
“The impact of the fires and drought this summer might be pushing bears into more urban areas,” he suggested.
“And then of course, more preventable things, like municipalities not having proper bylaws in place, not having effective waste Management programs, such as wildlife resistant garbage bins.”
Hofman is calling for a tougher approach to keep people from feeding wild animals, something that was cited as a possible factor in the Langley incident.
“We need to see enforcement,” Hofman commented.
“We need to see bylaws at the local level, but we also need to see the COS taking a stand against wildlife feeding by issuing tickets. We see disproportionate numbers of bears being killed versus the number of tickets that are being issued. We really do need to see the COS take more preventative measures.”
Langley Advance Times has reached out to COS for comment.
In an unsigned statement issued in response to a previous query, COS said the bear had been relocated from Coquitlam in mid-August, but returned to a “high-density urban setting only weeks later.”
“During this time, conservation officers also received multiple reports of this bear accessing non-natural food sources, such as garbage. In addition, another report was received alleging this bear was being fed by people. The COS is actively investigating these feeding allegations.”
COS stats show seven bears were “translocated” that month, the most since 2012, when nine were relocated.
Multiple social media posts tracked the movement of the female bear, who was seen walking near near the Home Depot hardware store, a motel, and the Willowbrook shopping centre in downtown Langley before she was captured in a residential building’s visitor parking, around 11:30 a.m.
Resident Allie Wilkinson recorded the capture on video.
“I actually just feel kind of bad for her,” Wilkinson commented. “I mean, she was just looking for somewhere to go, for something to eat.”
“It just seems so sad because watching the videos, she was just wandering through the parking lot, coming in the backyard. She was just doing bear things.”