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October 27, 2017 9:21 pm

College Heights Woman Calls for Relocation of Black Bear

Saturday, September 3, 2016 @ 7:00 AM

Prince George, B.C. – An Upper College Heights Woman says a large black bear is getting too close for comfort.

The woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, says the bear has been coming back to her neighbourhood the past six years – including an incident last year when it came into close contact with her nine-year-old son.

Photo submitted

Photo submitted

“He’s been eight feet away from my son in our cul-de-sac. I’ve also seen the bear in my yard, I’ve seen it’s paw prints, I’ve seen him in my green belt behind my yard and I’ve seen him down by Walmart. Other residents have also seen him.”

She says she last saw the bear about a week ago and she’s getting frustrated because the Conservation Officer Service (COS) doesn’t seem to be taking her concerns seriously.

“I called them about the bear and I’ve been told that they are unable to trap the bear due to it not being hungry and so unfortunately the COS is unable to trap him they say.

“I’ve been told that because he travels at night and he’s a garbage bear, he’s not a threat to the neighbours but in the same breath he tells me that if the bear is cornered or anything like that he could become aggressive because he feels threatened.”

Ultimately she’d like to see the bear relocated to prevent it from harming anyone.

“I would love for them to be able to trap this bear and relocate him. I don’t want to see a bear destroyed. It’s the residents not taking their garbage in, not picking the fruit off their trees and or the ground.”

City Councillor Brian Skakun lives about a kilometre away and understands her concern adding once the bear gets used to garbage, it’s time to put it down.

“Unfortunately when a bear is used to going into neighbourhoods and garbage there’s really no turning back. They can relocate it but quite often the bear is going to come back into the neighbourhood.”

He also fears there’s not enough CO’s to handle the workload.

“We don’t have enough conservation officers it seems to deal with a lot of these complaints and for myself as a city councillor, that’s really challenging because we have some many bear reports, so many bear sightings and if they don’t have the staff to do their job, it makes it tough on a lot of folks.”

Sgt Rory Smith of the COS in Prince George says that will soon change.

“Well right now we have a seasonal CO here and we have another CO starting in Vanderhoof so we’re going to be right up to full speed as far as staffing in the Omineca region (four field officers in PG, one seasonal. Two in Vanderhoof and one in Mackenzie). So we’re in pretty good shape.”

He also refutes the claim CO’s don’t take such complaints seriously.

“I guess the way I’d respond to that is that this time of year we filter hundreds of calls that come into the call centre and it’s our responsibility when those calls come in to prioritize them,” says Smith.

“Those bears that are displaying aggressive behaviour or persistent behaviour or bold, brazen behaviours where they’re coming into conflict with people or they’re destroying property, persistently getting into garbage – those are the calls we target.”

And though he didn’t handle this case directly, he says it’s “unfortunate” the woman came away with the impression the COS didn’t take her complaint seriously.

Smith also notes it’s important to put cases like these into perspective.

“You have a far greater chance of being attacked by a domestic pet than you do by wildlife and I think we just need to keep in mind they’re in our community and we need to take some of those precautions like securing food and attractants.”

That’s cold comfort for the complainant with the return of school next week though.

“Parents should take extra due diligence when their kids are going to school this year and know how to react if you do unfortunately come into contact with a bear.”


We live with bears so education is pretty important. I appreciate the comment that more people are injured by domestic pets. We often worry about the wrong things.

Maybe we should “build a wall”.

    And “make the bears pay for it “.

    The average domestic pet attack injury on one side of the scale of serious injury and the average bear attack injury on the other side of the seriousness scale.

    The frequency argument holds, but the seriousness of the injury or frequency when a life is taken is another matter.

What Rory cannot say is that the COS has been chronically understaffed for decades and that may not change under any government. Absolutely frustrating. It’s the same with any enforcement arm, too many naive politicians in the mix.

It sounds like this is one bear that’s learned how to avoid trouble. COs are right to prioritize.

I live in the same area, on greenbelt. There has been a minimum of one bear through here every year. One year it was a group of three travelling around. It’s a few weeks that they stick around. I’m just as afraid of them as most people are, however they are a beautiful animal to watch. If people would put their garbage cans away properly that would help most of the problem. I say this as I watch my neighbor across the street pick up his garbage again for the third time this week!! Does the bear occasionally come into yards? Yes. We are in his back yard. I have kept the conservation phone number on my fridge for years now. If the bear was being a nuisance and charging at people, displaying attacking behavior, I would certainly call. This guy is just looking for food before his winter nap. He doesn’t stay long and really wants nothing to do with people. Clean up your fruit, clean up your compost, clean up and lock up your garbage! That will give him much less temptation to come into ‘your space’.

I used to live in upper college heights and seeing bears along coward road was fairly common. Now with all the construction going along by the river their area is being eaten up. Maybe the people should be moved ;)

Problem, nuisance, garbage bears are not born they are made.
For the last 21 years an estimated 17,700 bear related calls and 880 bears destroyed here in Prince George and yet the conflict continues. If you do not want bears in your neighbourhood do not invite them. Bears identified as food conditioned or habituated are rarely given a second chance. Relocation has a success rate of about 30 percent. Relocated bears either return to from where they came or succumb to the conflict created when placed in another bears territory.
Recent studies are providing preliminary results that urban bears have higher than normal reproduction rates, access to high caloric unnatural food sources and a “safer” environment could be factors. Removing unnatural attractants from a bears diet may see a return to more natural feeding as what was recorded in Yosemite National Park.
We have heard many similar stories to this one over the years and are of the opinion that the solution is to address the cause of the human/bear conflict. It only takes one waste container, apple tree or bird feeder to lure a bear into a neighbourhood. Once a bear finds a food source it will not forget its’ location, returning year after year even if the attractant is removed. Though nearsighted a bears colour vision provides an opportunity to see all grey and black containers as food sources, after all if one had food in it they all must.
Destroying bears provides no long term solution, remove one another moves in. The solution, answer this question; Why is there a bear in my yard/neighbourhood?
There will always be bears within our city, providing food sources is the cause of the conflict. If we want a safe environment for ourselves and those around us being proactive and not reactive is critical.

    Thank you for the voice of reason! I’m always surprised by the number of people who think bears are super aggressive predators just waiting to tear us apart. Just not the case. In my dozens -likely 50+ encounters, I’ve never had reason to be afraid. Educate yourself and your neighbours, know how to act in an encounter (stay calm) and don’t have attractants in your neighbourhood if you don’t enjoy sharing space with them.

Up in my neck of the woods, we have bears in the neighbourhood every year. In spite of that fact, many residents still store their garbage can outside, next to their garage. One even commented that they don’t store their garbage can in their garage, because they don’t want to “stink up” their garage!

Perhaps we need a bylaw that garbage must be stored securely? But that would also require us to have bylaw officers that actually enforce our bylaws and we all know how unlikely to happen that is!

You live on. Greenbelt and want even the no threatening bears removed? I’d want to remain anonymous too!

I live in CH as well. For the most part the bears in this area keep their distance and people are pretty good about keeping their neighborhoods clean. I do agree an old bear needs to be watched or at least assessed especially this year..It wasn’t a very good berry & salmon year this year so you might have some opportunistic bears that could be a problem. With this in mind im planning my walking and biking routes accordingly..

    PS. I do see the CO’s doing regular patrols in CH so to say they aren’t doing anything is pretty unfair.

Our Council Jester doesn’t want bows and arrows used within city limits, but he wants bears to be killed in suburban neighbourhoods with firearms? Make up your mind. Why not make yourself useful and put forth fines and enforcement for area residents who negligently setup conditions for human/wildlife conflict.

    “City Councillor Brian Skakun lives about a kilometre away and understands her concern adding once the bear gets used to garbage, it’s time to put it down…Unfortunately when a bear is used to going into neighbourhoods and garbage there’s really no turning back.”

    Skakun does NOT WANT the bears put down with firearms! He is actually saying the same thing that you are saying: Do not let them get into garbage left out by negligent residents!

      I think you may have a reading comprehension issue.

      I think you have a problem comprehending the meaning of my comment! Reading is one thing, understanding is the other one.

    Just get Skakun to talk to the bear.. Guaranteed it will never return once the bear hears what comes out of his mouth ;).

I’ve lived by the greenbelt in Upper College Heights for 30 years and have had no problems with the wildlife. I’ve gone through the trail and have never had a run in. I also make smart choices though because I know that WE moved into their home and with all the construction, humans are pushing them out. I have seen people running up to the fence at the park WITH their kids to see the bears in the park. A couple of years ago families were running out of their homes when a couple bears would come out during the day. Now that’s definitely a human problem.
Honestly, my biggest concern is jerks speeding down Eaton at all hours and majority are family vehicles. My biggest pet peeve is not beautiful animals coming into my backyard year round, it’s people teaching the kids in the car that it’s okay to run through the stop sign at McGill and Eaton!
I also blame humans for being lazy and leaving their garbage out and accessible. Despite the signs stating that it’s illegal to put it out before 4am on garbage days, people still do it. Yes, I see these signs in the neighbourhood. I’ve seen this young bear and each time, he’s ran immediately into the bush. Once, he was minding his own business, on his bottom and swatting at berries or ants in a tree. It was adorable because I know to leave him be.
Bottom line, we moved into their home for generations, it’s their instinct to be here. You made the choice to be here so if you have a problem with respecting that, you can relocate to a less greenbelt like area!

    “Bottom line, we moved into their home for generations…”

    It just struck me when I read you statement which I very much agree with, that we should have applied this a long time ago to the humans who lived in this territory but many still seem to not understand that.

    Specific to bears and the human interface, it has always struck me that the recent subdivision planning over the last decade or more, have made presentations to Council showing wildlife corridors and lauding their inclusion to respect wildlife habitat. One thought would be to NOT provide such corridors because we know that the people living adjacent to those corridors generally do not have the understanding of how to accommodate those corridors so that wildlife does not enter the adjacent newly developed human habitat.

    Knowledge and respect of the different peoples as well as animals we “interface” with is not as universal as it should be.

I agree with all the comments here that we are in THEIR territory and WE know what we should do to reduce any conflicts. You can’t fault the bears for simply trying to survive and follow their natural instincts in doing so. People who live in bear territory should be pressuring their neighbours to follow the very simple rules of securing their garbage and picking their fruit. Too bad so many people are too lazy or ambivalent to do so. 9 times out of 10 it’s the bear that pays the price

“Not surprisingly, as their (BC Conservation Officers) numbers fell, responsibilities increased. On average, the area patrolled by each B.C. conservation officer increased to an area 2½ times larger than that covered by a similar Alberta officer. Saskatchewan, with less than a quarter of B.C.’s population, was found by one comparative study to have 56 per cent more staff devoted to enforcing environmental protection.”

ht tp://tinyurl.com/zuv9unu

Hey… I am not complaining, just sharing some statistics and facts with you. ;-)

    Apples and oranges.The population numbers by themselves are meaningless, the distribution of the population speaks more to the number of COs required.

    Incorporated centers:
    BC has 50 cities 14 towns and 42 villages
    Alberta has 17 cities 108 towns and 95 villages
    Saskatchewan has 16 cities 146 towns and 360 villages

    The larger towns in Alberta and Saskatchewan likely have their own CO,even a cluster of villages may have a centrally located CO.Fewer small towns and villages in BC mean fewer CO required to protect them. Another factor is the lower mainlands having half the provinces people in a relativly small area.

    Apples and oranges.The population numbers by themselves are meaningless, the distribution of the population speaks more to the number of COs required.

    Incorporated centers:
    BC has 50 cities 14 towns and 42 villages
    Alberta has 17 cities 108 towns and 95 villages
    Saskatchewan has 16 cities 146 towns and 360 villages

    The larger towns in Alberta and Saskatchewan likely have their own CO,even a cluster of villages may have a centrally located CO.Fewer small towns and villages in BC mean fewer CO required to protect them. Another factor is the lower mainlands having half the provinces people in a relativly small area.

      Thanks for your reply “lonesome”, however, if you want to engage in a debate with me, you need to state your sources… as I frequently do.

      Besides, BC has a higher Aboriginal population than Alberta or Saskatchewan. According to some of the racists on here, it is this segment that is heavily involved in traditional food sustenance activities (hunting and gathering). Therefore, one would think we need more COs than those other provinces.


      Looking forward to you posting the source of your stats “lonesome”.

      JGalt, Dodo’s sources come from under a bridge. :-)

      Anyone who has done any driving in western Canada and has a couple of IQ points to rub together would know the population distribution is different between BC and the two provinces to the west.

      Jump in your Chevy Spark EV and drive from Prince Rupert to the Alberta border and count the number of communities you pass through. To get a wider sample add in those within a hundred miles either side of highway 16. Do the same from Jasper to Lloydminister and you will see quite a difference. Ditto for Saskatchewan. How many COs are required between Smithers and Pemberton or McBride and Kamloops or Williams Lake and Bella Coola or Williams lake and the border

      As for your second point.

      ——> Jgalt thinks the province should have more COs

      ——> According to you racists think first nations hunting and fishing activities should be closely monitored by COs

      ——> Ergo jgalt is racist.

      No interest in getting in debate, one has to look no further than your lame response to a reasoned and rational reply by gopg on care home beds in this week’s FFFA.

      DF Careful on the troll talk….you are the one that the Keg stuffed in a dark corner so your appearance would not affect the appetite of other guests:D

      But, but, but, “lonesome” sparrow… all I asked you for was a source that backs up your original comment. Don’t have one? So why should any of us believe any thing you post?

Everyone makes the great post on here but we all keep getting scores of “0”.

How hard does a soul have to try?



    Does a few ôf these make you feel better👍👍👍👍👍

    or a fist bump👊

      Please don’t post photos of your love interests.

I hear the black bears are asking for a relocation of people so they will be moved out of their natural habitat.
Maybe College Heights could move to condos downtown.

    It doesn’t take a genius to know that if you move into an area that has always had wildlife that there will be wildlife. It’s simple common sense, if one doesn’t want to live in area with wild life, don’t move there. Go buy a condo downtown, but I’m sure one would find something to cry about then as well.

      You’re kidding right? Please list the places on earth that have never had or don’t have wildlife. Thanks for the Saturday night laugh.

    My natural habitat is anywhere on the planet I decide. You can relocate anywhere you like.

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