A food-conditioned black bear once removed from a Canmore neighbourhood only to return has been euthanized, officials said Wednesday.
The bruin, which was first spotted in the Peaks of Grassi area in August 2018 before it was tranquillized, tagged and relocated, returned to the area in late April; on May 1, the bear was captured and euthanized.
The male bear was found last summer inside the garage of a residence nearby and was believed to have entered the area to eat berries and other natural food sources, before the hungry bear found its way into garbage left outside homes.
While relocating bears is one option to deter the behaviour, Alberta Justice and Solicitor General spokeswoman Lisa Glover said it’s not often a perfect solution.
“Bears that are severely food-conditioned may return, or be attracted to another human-populated area,” said Glover. “The success of a relocation varies with every bear. In this case, relocation was not successful as the bear came back and offended again.”
While the Town of Canmore has a municipal bylaw requiring residents properly secure their garbage in animal-proof containers or enclosures, bears keep finding their way into unnatural attractants.
And according to the bi-annual Canmore Community Monitoring, 19 black bears from the Canmore area have been euthanized between 1997 and 2016 while another 67 were translocated.
It’s just a fraction of the 2,544 human conflict incidents with bears in that same time frame — 58.5 per cent of which were in residential areas.
“My general reaction is serious disappointment that residents of Canmore don’t seem to be understanding the ramifications of not being intentional and careful in how they go about leaving … food attractants available,” said Canmore Mayor John Borrowman, adding that bylaw has been unable to lay fines against people as witnesses decline to identify those responsible.
“Every time there’s an animal put down it’s usually because of human neglect. All of us here in Canmore should really be taking responsibility. It feels like heavy duty enforcement, regulations and fines are the only thing people understand. There hasn’t been consideration formally (in terms of increasing penalties) at council but certainly consideration of that need in my mind. This most recent incident, on a personal level, is pushing me over the top.”
The town introduced stiffer fines in recent years to those operating short-term rentals in the area and since, Borrowman said, the instances of them had declined considerably.
“It has nowhere near the devastating impact as we are talking about here (with wildlife),” said Borrowman.
“If that’s what it takes, then I’m thinking we are going to have to have the same conversation at council about increasing the penalties for not being compliant on these wildlife attractant bylaws.”
Kim Titchener, president of Bear Safety & More, said it’s unsafe for food-conditioned bears to be so close to humans.
“It’s quite disheartening (to see a bear euthanized),” she said. “ Statistically it’s really unsafe to have a food-conditioned bear living in close proximity to human beings and taking the risk of human life is just not something that our government can do.
“They have to consider public safety as a priority over the conservation of bears and that’s why it’s so important that if people do care about bears and want to live with them … you have to accept that you’re the one who has to make the changes. You can have bear-resistant bins, education programs, wildlife corridors … but you still have to make sure you get that message … that we can’t leave garbage outside. Sadly, it just takes one person leaving their garbage on their front steps for five minutes. They don’t realize the repercussions are so extreme and they do result in bears being shot.”
The topic of bears interacting with humans, or their garbage, isn’t just occurring in Canmore.
Titchener said many communities have issues with the problem, but that many don’t have as many precautions in place as Canmore does.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019