The orphan bear cub that was spotted repeatedly in Lake Cowichan since the start of the year has been euthanized by conservation officers.
Last month the animal was found under a porch at a home on Neva Road. It was tranquilized, captured and ultimately escaped death by running into the forest about 10 kilometres outside of town. Conservation officers hoped it was young enough it was not habituated to humans and human food sources but only two weeks later it came back to the same area.
“It returned right to the same location, the same house we had removed it from,” said conservation officer Scott Norris. “It’s a frustrating thing for us to have to do… It’s a prime example that once a bear becomes habituated to human food sources it’s going to return again and again.”
Norris urged area residents to report any bear sightings right away, which can help officers potentially relocate the animal before it’s too late, adding that some people think they’re “doing the bear a favour” by not getting conservation officers involved.
“The delay in reporting leads to the habituated bear that will have to be euthanized,” he said.
Intentionally feeding dangerous animals or leaving attractants such as food, food waste and garbage is prohibited under B.C.’s Wildlife Act, a point that Norris said he wants to emphasize in light of this recent bear situation.
He noted these regulations also apply to elk.
“We’ve been very, very lenient with residents and businesses…but we want to remind the community that under the Wildlife Act it’s a $230 fine for attracting dangerous wildlife by leaving attractants available and accessible.”
Norris said there was pet food and garbage outside at the location where the bear was found both times.
“[Garbage] has got to be locked up and secured someplace,” he said, recommending lockable metal containers or wooden structures. He described the CVRD-issued plastic garbage bins as “somewhat bear-proof” but only if owners get special locking lids for them and chain the containers to a structure the bear can’t remove.