Bears target shoppers for food 

Conservation officers forced to shoot two black bears in response to aggressive behaviour

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Two black bears were shot dead by conservation officers in Whistler after significant run-ins with people, including an incident where a man had a loaf of bread taken out of his hands by a bear as he waited in the dark for a bus.

The incident occurred in Function Junction on Monday, Oct. 15.

Michael Bruno, who works at RTOWN Communications, said he had seen a bear earlier in the evening in the area, and later walked to the bus shelter at Alpha Lake Road and Millar Creek Road where he encountered another man carrying groceries and wearing reflective safety gear at 8:30 p.m.

"He's (the man) got a smirk on his face, and he says 'I guess the bear's not happy tonight.' I asked him what he meant and he said a bear just walked up and snatched a loaf of bread out of his hand and ran off into the bushes," said Bruno.

While the two spoke at the bus stop they heard more noise and realized the bear was still in the area. There were no street lights and they couldn't see well.

Their bus arrived at that point, and they asked the driver to turn on the side light, where they saw a large bear eating garbage near the bus shelter's garbage can, a few feet from where they were standing.

Bruno said it was pitch black in the area and doesn't know why the lights on the bus shelter were not on.

"I made a comment (to the man with the bread) on how unsafe it is when you're walking from work and you can't see 10 feet in front of you — and there's a bear right in front of the bus shelter eating garbage but you can't see it. He said the same thing. He didn't see anything either, just came around the corner and suddenly he heard a bear growl at him. His eyes adjusted, and there's a bear standing right in front of him," said Bruno. The bear took one loaf, but the man had other groceries that the bear may have come back for.

Later in the week, on Oct. 18, an aggressive adult female black bear was shot at the waste transfer station in Function Junction, though it is not known if this was the same animal in Monday's incident, but the bear had broken into a building and several cars in her search for food.

Conservation Officer Simon Gravel said the bear was a repeat offender they've dealt with before, but her behavior had grown worse. She was killed at the Function Junction garbage and recycling transfer station just after 10 p.m. following four hours of confrontation.

"The level of conflict had escalated very quickly with the home invasion, and maybe a dozen cars were broken into. She would just lean into the windows and break them. Sometimes she got some food, sometimes not," he said.

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