B.C. conservation officer says farmers not doing enough after 3 grizzlies killed

Little uptake on incentive programs for fencing frustrates local conservation officer

A conservation officer in the Castlegar area says he’s frustrated with farmers after seeing three female grizzlies killed earlier this month in the Passmore area.

He says local farmers are not doing enough to protect their properties from bears, resulting in more animal deaths.

“We’re killing grizzly bears for the sake of an $8 chicken,” says officer Blair Thin. “That’s just a little inappropriate.”

Thin says the grizzly bear sow and her two yearling cubs were first spotted in early September in the Paulson Summit and Merry Creek areas.

“The bears were reported healthy looking, a good-looking sow with two cubs, not causing any problems whatsoever,” he says. “Just sightings, posing for pictures by the highway, that kind of thing.”

However, the animals made their way to the Pass Creek area, and began making nuisances of themselves, wandering onto properties and killing chickens — “fast food for bears,” says Thin.

“We have to manage these attractants,” he says. “It’s inevitable you are going to have a black bear or grizzly eating your chickens if you have them running around free range.”

Little is being done by livestock owners to reduce the chance of confrontation, says Thin.

“We found it quite concerning [that] most of the properties did not have any sort of electric fencing, and the ones that did had it completely wrong,” he says.

Eventually, conservation officers had to intervene.

“Nobody had the electric fencing set up prior to the bears showing up,” he says. “The key is to have the fencing set up and working before the bears show up.”

On Oct. 2, the animals were captured in culvert traps, tagged, sampled, and relocated the next day about 30 kilometres away, at the upper end of their home range, near Mount Stanley.

“It was late in the year, which was not an ideal time to relocate bears,” says Thin. “But because the bears were all females, the decision was made to try to retain the females in the population. It would be a pretty big hit on the population to lose three females in one fell swoop.”

It didn’t take long for the animals to return. They were spotted a few days later in the Deer Creek area and eventually began making their way towards the Passmore area.

“They once again started predating on the chickens, free-range chickens, unprotected livestock feed, that kind of thing,” says Thin. “We were surprised and concerned again that people hadn’t taken the effort to put up electric fences, and the ones that did weren’t doing it properly.

“There was never an incident of a direct threat to public safety,” says Thin. “But they were exhibiting some extreme habituation and conditioning. They were reluctant to being scared off by dogs or human activity.”

Conservation officers tried to capture the animals again, without success.

Then the inevitable happened. A Passmore farmer, feeling threatened, shot and killed the sow. Conservation officers responded, and in consultation with the B.C. Fish and Wildlife Branch, killed the mother’s two cubs.

Thin says it’s a shame.

“When I’m the one processing a bear after they’ve been destroyed… we’re just looking at these beautiful bears, three females… it’s a beautiful thing,” he says. “But you look at them and you realize, they’re dead, they don’t exist anymore, it’s really sad.

“This is a 100 per cent avoidable scenario. And I don’t mean through a lot of effort or a lot of work. No, it’s through a simple tool — electric fencing would have prevented this in a heartbeat.”

He hopes farmers and farm hobbyists will take the opportunity to do what’s right, and electrify their properties.

“Even though these bears are gone and removed and they’re not a threat anymore, you are always going to have bears in that area,” he says. “You can get an electric fence, it’s being subsidized 50 per cent. It’s being handed to you with a bow on it. Take advantage of it.”

A free workshop on electrification is being held on Saturday, Nov. 17 at 2 p.m. at the Pass Creek Community Hall. It will feature Gillian Sanders from Grizzly Bear Solutions talking about fencing and grizzly bear safety.

Grizzly Bear Solutions Facebook Page

Just Posted

Cache Creek landfill extension set for September completion

Project has been delayed due to wildfires and floods over past two years

Drag races set to return for Graffiti Days weekend

Annual event features old favourites like the smoke show, and new events like a drive-in movie

Bonaparte River fishway, Thompson steelhead among projects awarded grant funding

More than $9 million will help 170 fish and wildlife projects around B.C.

Wellness clinics provide free, drop-in health information

New service in Clinton helps patients manage their health care and stay out of hospital

Soccer Report

Reflections as the soccer season reaches the halfway point

Trudeau touts economic record at Liberal fundraiser in Vancouver

The Prime Minister was in B.C. for much of this week

Thunderstorms to bring heavy rain, risk of flash floods in the Okanagan

Ten to 30 millimetres of rain to fall over the early weekend

Unbe-leaf-able: Agassiz man finds more than 200 four-leaf clovers in a month

Walt Hardinge has found more than 219 four-or-more leaf clovers this spring alone

Crews fight fire with fire to keep blaze from northern Alberta town

The wildfire now covers some 920 square kilometres

Man in B.C. charged with murder and arson in 2016 New Brunswick death

He is charged in the death of 71-year-old Lucille Maltais, who was found inside a burned down home

Improve your life and theirs, adopt a cat from the BC SPCA

The BC SPCA holds an adult cat adoption promotion

RCMP probe if teen was intentionally hit with ski pole by mystery skier on B.C. mountain

The incident happened on March 20 on Grouse Mountain. Police are urging witnesses to come forward

Support growing for orphaned Okanagan child after father dies in highway crash

Family thanks emergency crews for assistance in traumatic incident

Baby boom seniors putting pressure on B.C. long-term care: report

B.C. leads Canada in growth of dementia, dependence on care

Most Read