Its name was Huckleberry and it was known by many in Deep Cove as a perfect neighbour who loved the bright red berry.
But last week, the black bear was killed by Conservation Officers after becoming accustomed to food left out by local residents – allegedly so they could take videos, the North Shore Black Bear Society claims.
The society, based in North Vancouver, had been keeping an eye out for the bear since it was first found eating scraps from an open organics bin on July 2.
“Even though you were eating, you were very easy to move on,” the society said in a Facebook post. “We walked you back to the forest and hoped to see you again on the trails.”
The society members came across Huckleberry multiple times in the weeks to come, each time using a firm tone and telling the bear to leave – which it would. Other property owners said that Huckleberry would stop by for a visit and was easily moved on.
But the society started to receive reports that the bear had developed a hankering for garbage. Most concerning, people admitted they allowed the bear to access their scraps in order to capture video instead of moving it along, the society said, calling the neglect a “death sentence.”
“If only people had used a firm voice with you, you would have listened. Or respected you enough to not have any garbage or food scraps accessible in the first place. We did you a disservice, Huckleberry.”
The society saw the bear for one last time on July 31, after responding to reports it was eating berries at the edge of a nearby forest. By the time staff reached the bear, Huckleberry was being followed by people trying to capture video of it eating out of an organic bin.
Society members determined it wasn’t safe to move the bear themselves, due to the crowd. The bear was tranquilized by conservation officers later that day and taken away to be euthanized.
Bears are killed, which B.C.’s conservation service refers to as “destroyed,” when they become conditioned to human food. British Columbians are urged to secure their garbage and organic bins and to keep a distance from bears.
So far this year, 14 bears have been killed. Conservation officers have responded to 103 of 624 calls received through the RAPP line. Zero have been moved to a different location.
“You were willing to coexist, but people were not. You showed us every time we met that you were a good-natured bear, we are deeply sorry that we couldn’t save you,” the society said.
“We’ll always have a place in our hearts for you, sweet boy.”
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