Conservation service destroys bear family south of Squamish

Advocates calling for softer measures when dealing with bear cubs

The conservation service has killed a mother bear and her two cubs after the animals entered a house in Furry Creek, south of Squamish.

While no people were hurt, the conservation service says whenever bears enter an occupied home, the standing policy is to put them down.

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"The important message for us is that when bears entered an occupied building like this, cubs, as per policy, are not candidates for a care facility – it's above the threshold," said conservation officer Simon Gravel.

"We have ... a very specific policy on that and that's been determined by biologists involved and all the stakeholders involved in development of that policy."

Gravel said the bears entered the home through an open door and took food from the kitchen. They were killed on June 7.

Leading up to this incident, the bear family had been taking garbage from unsecured bins and in some cases, damaged property – including sheds and a garage – in attempts to get food, Gravel said.

At one point, officers heard that the cubs entered a vehicle, he said.

"Those bears [were] extremely comfortable in that neighbourhood," Gravel said. "They became very habituated, very hard to chase away, and, unfortunately, got very many rewards in the area. So it quickly became a problem. And we knew it was leading to a very high level of conflict, and, unfortunately, eventually, they just walked into the house, and that was kind of the threshold. We could not consider any other options."

As a result, Tony Rainbow, chair of the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District, says he'll be asking bylaw officers to start cracking down on unsecured garbage in the area.

"The main problem in Furry Creek is that some people have not been storing their garbage properly," he said.

Rainbow added he was very disappointed the family was killed, especially the cubs.

In the meantime, Christine Miller of the North Shore Black Bear Society is calling for softer measures when it comes to killing bear cubs.

Miller said that judging from the pictures she's seen of the family, she believes the cubs were born this year, as they are quite small.

She said that the conservation officer service should alter their decision-making matrix, or protocol, to have a softer approach for cubs born within a year.

Miller said that the current protocol lumps cubs and adult bears into the same category, which may create penalties for cubs that she considers to be too harsh.

A separate matrix should be created for cubs, she said.

"All orphaned cubs deserve a second chance at one of B.C.'s three rehab centres," Miller wrote to The Chief in an email.

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