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

Driver ticketed after crash on Bruhn Bridge in Sicamous

The bridge is the Trans-Canada Highway’s crossing point for the Sicamous Channel

Trans Canada Highway to be closed for an hour for avalanche control

The highway will be closed 44 km east of Revelstoke from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. today

New highway maintenance contractor selected for Okanagan-Shuswap

Acciona Infrastructure Maintenance Inc. was awarded the contract beginning in April 2019

Shuswap invited to stand united against violence against women

Annual event on Dec. 6 particularly poignant in view of missing Shuswap women

Food bank benefit hits the bull’s-eye in Salmon Arm

An event teaching both archery and the joy of giving to those less fortunate was well received

VIDEO: Shoppers like self-checkout lanes at the grocery store, survey suggests

Grocery Experience National Survey Report suggests most grocery shoppers spend 32 minutes per visit

Vernon Kokanees rule home pool

Jamboree sees swimmers from Salmon Arm, Kelowna, Kamloops, Penticton and Summerland compete

Police in Northern B.C. search for driver in fatal hit-and-run

RCMP in Terrace are urging the driver to come forward

No deal in sight: Canada Post warns of delivery delays into January

Union holds fifth week of rotating strikes as both sides remain apart on contract negotiations

Kelowna lotto winner: ‘You never think it’s going to be you’

Kelowna’s Nick Pisio is now one million dollars richer after lotto win.

COLUMN: Higher interest rates will slow B.C. economy after ‘unusually robust’ show

Jock Finlayson is executive vice president and chief policy officer of the Business Council of BC

Jason Aldean, Old Dominion to headline Merritt’s Rockin’ River concerts next summer

Four-day music festival at Coldwater River from Aug. 1 to 4

UPDATE: Morning crash shuts down Kamloops road

A crash stalled the morning communte in Kamloops on Wednesday

Police looking into two more incidents at private Toronto all-boys’ school

Police and the school have said two of the prior incidents involved an alleged sexual assault

Most Read