College Heights Woman Calls for Relocation of Black Bear
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.
“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.”