A black bear was killed by police in an urban Toronto neighbourhood early Saturday morning when wildlife officials were unable to attend the scene and manage the potential conflict.
The CBC reported that Toronto Police began receiving calls about a black bear in a Scarborough neighourhood at about 10 pm Friday evening. While officers attempted to locate the bear, calls were placed to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF), who have authority over wildlife in the province.
"There were calls that were made to the Ministry of Natural Resources,” Toronto Police Constable Allyson Douglas-Cook told CBC. “As you would imagine, this is not something that is common for our region. Unfortunately, they did not have any resources to send to assist us at that time.”
After monitoring the bear and tracking him over four hours, police decided to use lethal force, and the Emergency Task Force (the SWAT team) killed the bear.
The CBC has noted that angry phone calls are being received by Toronto Police, and social media is filled with questions about tranquilizer guns, relocation efforts, and other possible solutions.
Toronto Police do not have the specialized equipment or training to manage wildlife, let alone large wildlife like black bears. That’s the area of specialty for the Ministry of Natural Resources, however, and serious questions must be directed to the province about why there were no officers able to make it to Toronto over the course of four hours. Additionally, if MNRF officers are unable to attend to reasonable wildlife situations, as is their mandate, the province should begin diverting funding to municipal police services and the Ontario Provincial Police so they do have the specialized equipment and training to manage conflict.
As cities and towns continue to grow across the province, the potential for wildlife conflict will also grow. The province must make education, prevention, the ability to enforce regulations, and the response to conflict a priority – or our wildlife will continue to pay with their lives.
Please write to your Ontario MLA and tell them you want funding to wildlife response to become a priority. You can find their contact information by clicking here, or write the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry Kathryn McGarry at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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