A black bear, dubbed Huckleberry by Deep Cove, B.C., residents died on July 31, 2020, after becoming conditioned to food and humans. (North Shore Black Bear Society photo)

A black bear, dubbed Huckleberry by Deep Cove, B.C., residents died on July 31, 2020, after becoming conditioned to food and humans. (North Shore Black Bear Society photo)

Fewer dead bears, more fines: Advocates call for B.C. conservation officer reform

B.C. Bear Alliance wants to see body cameras on conservation officers after more than 600 black bears were killed this past year

Wildlife advocates are for calling for conservation officers responding to conflicts between humans and bears in B.C. to wear body cameras.

This, after more than 600 black bears were reported killed in the past year at the hands of B.C. Conservation Officer Service.

Dozens of advocacy groups – including Pacific Wild and Wildlife Biologists – have joined forces to form B.C. Bear Alliance to raise a collective voice for non-lethal bear management.

In total, more than 19,500 human-bear interactions were reported in B.C. between April 2020 and March 2021, according to data acquired by the group.

Of them, 14 per cent were responded to by conservation officers. A total of 650 black bears were killed.

“That says to me that it’s not working,” said committee member Lesley Fox, a humane education specialist.

RELATED: B.C. Conservation kills bear in Langford amid growing problem of habituation

The alliance is urging for the independent oversight of officers, similar to police, to encourage more non-lethal bear interventions.

“We can’t kill or relocate our way out of these problems,” Fox said.

“Many of us look at humans and animals as being in conflict. Conflict suggests that there are two parties that don’t agree. Animals are not willing participants.”

She said conservation officers need to pay more attention to humans who leave garbage around or outright feed wild animals. Under B.C.’s Wildlife Act, attracting dangerous wildlife is an offence punishable by a $230 fine.

Ticketing more humans would work as a preventative measure, she said, leading to fewer bears in residential areas.

“Killing should be the absolute last resort.”

READ MORE: ‘Huckleberry’ the bear killed after B.C. residents admit to leaving garbage out for videos

For conservation officers suspected of wrongdoing, a formal complaint process exists through the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy.

However, since the province oversees the B.C. Conservation Officer Service, “filing a complaint means that officers are investigating the conduct of their friends and colleagues,” said Fox.

“This undermines public trust.”



sarah.grochowski@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

bearsConservationEnvironment

Just Posted

Victoria police officers used less-lethal weapons to arrest a woman Sunday night after she allegedly attacked a man with a hammer. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria police use less-lethal weapons on woman following hammer attack

Greater Victoria Emergency Response Team called to barricade situation

The District of Saanich has pinpointed funding requests to Oak Bay and Victoria to help offset the purchase price of the Kings Park greenspace and keep the property intact. (Courtesy District of Saanich)
Saanich requests funding help from neighbours to preserve Kings Road green space

District hopes Victoria and Oak Bay will join them in protecting urban green space

North Saanich council Monday will consider the results of a survey conducted by the North Saanich Residents Association that finds little support for increased densification. (Black Press Media File)
Survey finds little support for increased density in North Saanich

North Saanich Residents Association conducted the online survey

According to Statistics Canada, the unemployment rate in Greater Victoria stood at 6.3 per cent in May 2021, nearly unchanged from April’s rate of 6.2 per cent. (Black Press Media File)
Unemployment rate in Greater Victoria stagnates at 6.3 per cent in May

Latest figures reflect conditions before lifting of public health measures

Thriving Toots Wilderness School is trying to buy a 98-acre plot of undeveloped land from the Boys and Girls’ Club of Greater Victoria in Metchosin. (Contributed/Thriving Roots)
Hopeful buyers of Boys and Girls’ Club land in Metchosin would keep it wild

Nature-based school, partners trying to secure financing to buy 98-acre property: school director

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Cruise ship passengers arrive at Juneau, Alaska in 2018. Cruise lines have begun booking passengers for trips from Seattle to Alaska as early as this July, bypassing B.C. ports that are not allowed to have visitors until March 2022 under a Canadian COVID-19 restrictions. (Michael Penn/Juneau Empire)
B.C. doesn’t depend on U.S. law to attract cruise ships, Horgan says

Provinces to get update next week on Canada’s border closure

This undated photo provided by Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails shows a scout donating cookies to firefighters in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, as part of the Hometown Heroes program. As the coronavirus pandemic wore into the spring selling season, many Girl Scout troops nixed their traditional cookie booths for safety reasons. That resulted in millions of boxes of unsold cookies. (Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails via AP)
Thinner Mints: Girl Scouts have millions of unsold cookies

Since majority of cookies are sold in-person, pandemic made the shortfall expected

In this artist’s sketch, Nathaniel Veltman makes a video court appearance in London, Ont., on June 10, 2021 as Justice of the Peace Robert Seneshen (top left) and lawyer Alayna Jay look on. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Alexandra Newbould
Terror charges laid against London attack suspect

Crown says Nathaniel Veltman’s four counts of first-degree murder constitute an act of terrorism

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province's fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

Most Read