Conservation Officer Brad Adams, based out of Port McNeill, walks next to his work truck. (Bill McQuarrie photo)

Food-conditioned black bear destroyed near Port Hardy

Such a bear learns to see unnatural food sources as its own, and is willing to defend them as such

Conservation officers killed a black bear sow near Port Hardy this month as a risk to the public.

The sow, which was destroyed May 1 near Fort Rupert, was food-conditioned, meaning it knew where to get high-caloric food from human sources and had discovered doing that was a lot more efficient than huffing down huckleberries for an animal that needs upwards of 8,000 calories a day this time of year.

RELATED: After grizzly spotted in Sayward, mayor warns the public not to come searching

It takes a bear a whole day of berry eating to get full. But a quick hit of dog food, or a compost/garbage meal is far more filling, in much shorter time. Bears who learn this caloric shortcut will come back for more.

Such a bear learns to see unnatural food sources as its own, and is willing to defend them as such, forcing the B.C. Conservation Officer Service to deem the creature as dangerous, and destroy it.

Conservation Officer Brad Adams said ‘destroy’ instead of ‘put down’ because when an animal is put down, it’s for its own good. Maybe it’s sick or injured. But with a food-conditioned bear, it’s for our own good.

“There’s no way to really sugar coat what it is,” he said. “It’s really something we try to put out of our mind at the end of the day.”

The province has a protocol that clearly outlines non-lethal options for bears, such as hazing or relocation. But a food-conditioned bear is very likely to seek out a town again, even if it’s relocated.

“It just takes one person who doesn’t store their food properly,” Adams said. “The bear will find that attractant. They are opportunistic. We really want the community to understand why the bears behave as they do, so that we can understand how to live with wildlife around us.”

RELATED: Bear watchers urge bear awareness

A total of 665 bears were destroyed last year by conservation officers in B.C.

Report bear sightings immediately to the Conservation Officer Service’s 24 hour hotline at 1-877-952-7277.

WildSafeBC keeps records of reported sightings through its Wildlife Alert Reporting Program (WARP). Visit its website for more.

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