Conservation officers should focus on solutions with residents

Conservation officers should focus on solutions with residents

An underweight and solitary bear cub was found in the backyard of homeowners in Anmore, British Columbia on January 8, 2020. The homeowners, who are well versed in coexistence with bears, wanted to provide assistance to the cub who appeared to be orphaned; Critter Care Wildlife Society was able to take in the cub for assessment and appropriate care.

The Conservation Officer Service was contacted regarding the situation and, according to the homeowners, made three points:

  1. Officers would not attend to transport the cub;
  2. If officers did attend in the morning it would be to move the cub across the street to a forest and leave them there; and,
  3. If the residents intervened at all they would face legal consequences.

After 19 hours of this cub being on the property and no sign of another bear in the area, a staff member for The Fur-Bearers with past experience and training in wildlife rehabilitation volunteered to transport the cub to Critter Care Wildlife Society. The cub weighed in at 20 pounds – significantly underweight for the season.

This is another example of the Conservation Officer Service creating distrust with the public; when officers attended calls related to black bears an average of 22% of the time a black bear was killed according to provincial data (below). Without evaluating the cub in person, the officer who spoke with the Anmore family indicated that the cub could not or should not go to rehabilitation and should instead be left, likely to die, in a winter forest. And any interference with this decision would result in legal action.

Residents should not fear a government agency when they want to help an orphaned, native animal. Residents should not be in a place to assume that asking for this kind of help will result in the death of an innocent animal or that they will be punished for doing what is right when told no options are available.

The Fur-Bearers are disappointed that this situation became adversarial and that the initial call between the Anmore residents and the COS was not one of solutions in the best interests of the cub.


https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/environment/plants-animals-and-ecosystems/conservation-officer-service/predatorstatisticsblackbear.pdf

April: 83 attended, 16 killed (19.2%)

May: 431 attended, 97 killed (22.5%)

June: 423 attended, 81 killed (19.1%)

July: 282 attended, 55 killed (19.5%)

August: 291 attended, 67 killed (23.0%)

September: 484 attended, 95 killed (19.6%)

October: 374 attended, 101 killed (27%)

November: 140 attended, 30 killed (21.4%)

December: 56 attended, 15 killed (26.7%)

Average for 2019/20 stats: 22% of calls attended result in bear being killed.

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Established in 1953, The Fur-Bearers is a charitable, non-partisan organization whose goals are to end the commercial fur trade and promote solutions for wildlife coexistence in communities. Your donation is tax-deductible. Charitable registration number: 130006125RR0002

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