Conservation Officer Dan Bartol was optimistic when he was first called to check on a bear hanging around the southeast side of town on Monday afternoon. Initially exhibiting natural behaviour, the bear was eating berries and then wandered off.
But later in the evening the same bear was reported to be eating garbage, and it became evident that it was already habituated to unnatural food sources.
“We were watching him in the afternoon for more than 20 minutes, he was just eating berries, paying no attention to the people walking by. He displayed no aggression whatsoever,” said Bartol. “It was clear he wouldn’t be a threat, so we left. We didn’t want to do anything to discourage him from the natural behaviours he was exhibiting.”
Unfortunately that behaviour changed when the bear found access to garbage that was not secured properly. A garbage bin with garbage in it was in front of a resident’s garage, and was then dragged over two yards before the bear took some up a tree.
“Once he discovered garbage as a food source, he was no longer a candidate for relocation,” he said.
Bartol decided the only course of action was to sedate the bear, then euthanize it out of town.
He estimates the age of the bear to be around three years, which tends to be the most problematic age in regards to human conflict.
“This bear was likely on its own for the first time,” said Bartol. “He started off finding a natural food source, but unfortunately he got a fast food reward.”
Bartol was confident that if an easy food source like garbage had not been available, the bear would have moved on and continued eating natural food.
A violation ticket in the amount of $230 was issued to the resident whose garbage was improperly secured. Bartol says the resident was remorseful, and very understanding of the fact that he had made a mistake.
“I take no pleasure in handing out tickets…and I certainly don’t take any pleasure in a bear being destroyed,” said Bartol. “But I’m still seeing too many violations. This definitely could have been avoided.”