“Because you and or your brother didn’t clip the bin, a bear is dead,” conservation officer Alex Desjardins explained to two teenage boys at the residence.
The bear proof garbage bin they have at their house was missing one of the latches, allowing the bear access to the garbage inside. Desjardins was prepared to issue a ticket to the residents at the address, but ended up letting them off with a warning, and instruction to contact the Town of Golden immediately to remedy the missing latch.
“It is unlawful to leave anything that can attract dangerous wildlife,” Desjardins explained. “I think what’s really important is to shift the mentality so residents take responsibility to protect wildlife.”
Conservation authorities decided the bear needed to be destroyed after it made its way across town and into the Alexander Park Elementary School vicinity. The principal called in the bear, and it was later found eating from the garbage can of a nearby residence.
“When I approached the bear, he momentarily went away from the garbage and when I stepped back, he went back to the garbage,” Desjardins said. “So that shows a high level of habituation to humans.”
A lot of bears that come into town travel from areas like the airport, Canadian Pacific Railway property, the Columbia River, Selkirk Hill, and Mount 7.
Two bears have been destroyed this year. Last year, only five or six were killed. The record amount of bears killed was 30, two years ago.
“I think people may have a skewed perception of how conservation officers react to destroying wildlife. When a conservation officer says it’s the worst part of their job, it’s not said lightly,” Desjardins said. “It’s extremely difficult day after day trying to educate and enforce the wildlife act, hand out fines, and plead with the public to do their part in reducing and eliminating human wildlife conflicts. To have to look a bear in the eyes and have to destroy him, it’s horrible. It’s not the bear’s fault. The bear will go for the easiest calories, and that’s what we provide them.”
Conservation officers are responsible for ensuring people adhere to laws and guidelines for their safety and the safety of animal welfare. The Town of Golden expects all residents will have bear proof bins by the spring of 2019.
“When we remove a bear from the population, we see it as a failure. Failure as a community as a whole to manage our garbage,” Desjardins said. “Unfortunately it is too risky and too dangerous to let an adult black bear roam around town. The people of B.C. have given us the mandate to keep their towns and cities safe, and that’s what we do.”
Desjardins decided to move to Golden after doing a bit of research about the area. He hopes that with more education and the implementation of bear proof bins, so long as they are used properly, human wildlife conflicts can be minimized.
Anyone encountering issues with wildlife can report issues, violations of fisheries, wildlife, or environmental protection laws to 1-877-952-7277.