Squamish man charged with killing grizzly 

Bears delaying hibernation getting into conflicts in Squamish and Whistler

click to enlarge GRIZZLY DEATH A Squamish man is charged in connection with the Nov. 2011 death of a male grizzly bear near Pemberton. File photo
  • GRIZZLY DEATH A Squamish man is charged in connection with the Nov. 2011 death of a male grizzly bear near Pemberton. File photo

A man from Squamish has been charged with shooting a grizzly bear out of season in the Pemberton area, more than a year after the killing took place.

The Conservation Officer Service (COS) learned a grizzly was shot near Pemberton in Nov. 2011. According to Sgt. Peter Busink of the COS, the 360kg (800lbs) male bear was about 20 years old and in good health. The bear wasn't tagged or collared; it was found in the Pemberton Meadows near the turnoff to the Hurley River Road.

"This bear represented an important genetic link between fractured populations of grizzly bears in the area," said Busink.

A COS investigation into the shooting led to a suspect and Busink said a report was passed on to Crown Counsel. In addition to charging the man with killing the bear out of season, he has also been charged with failing to report killing of game by accident or for protection. The man will appear in court on Jan. 10.

Penalties for wildlife offences include fines of up to $250,000 and forfeiture of firearms.

Meanwhile, bears in Squamish have been keeping Conservation Officers and District of Squamish officials busy by targeting garbage totes.

Meg Toom, the Squamish Bear Aware Community Coordinator, reported that this has been one of the busiest years since Bear Aware started in 2005. She said natural food sources were poor, with increased bear activity within the neighbourhoods.

Toom said the bears have been getting garbage from damaged garbage totes or totes that have been left unlocked.

"Highly motivated bears will bat the totes around and do 'CPR' compressions on the side to see if they can pop the lid," said Toom.

If one lock is off or if the tote is damaged, bears might be able to pull garbage out. She said this has happened in the Garibaldi Highlands area.

"The totes are also showing wear and tear from just general use," said Toom. "It would be very helpful if citizens were to phone Carney's (Waste Systems) and report small problems, such as rivets popping, that can be repaired before they become a major damage issue and give a bear access."

The waste collection company owns the garbage totes and Toom said it is up to Carney's to fix any damaged garbage totes at no cost to the homeowner. The number of complaint calls is dropping and she believes that is because many bears are now hibernating.

Conservation officer Tim Schumacher, who is based in Whistler, dealt with a bear on Wednesday, Dec. 5 that was spotted in a tree in the village.

He said it was at least four years of age and had aleady been relocated three times this year. It was also relocated once each year dating back to 2009.

"He just wasn't going to stay away," said Schumacher after reluctantly destroying the bear. "We tried to take him north of town, south of town."

Schumacher said there have also been issues with bears getting into garbage containers at the transfer stations in Function Junction and Nesters. Doors are being left open and he said bears are getting into the various bins at the collection depots.

"They (bears) are consistently getting food rewards from the transfer sites," said Schumacher, adding that people have sometimes opened compactors and found a bear inside.

"Doors being left open at the transfer stations are a significant challenge."

He stressed that bears are only put down when they become a significant safety risk and it is usually human behaviour and poor waste management habits that lead to conflicts between bears and people.

Schumacher was also called in to handle what was initially reported as a cougar attack of a dog in Brackendale. He concluded a cougar didn't attack. He said there had been recent cougar sightings. The COS asks for such sitings to be reported.

All bear and other wildlife conflicts can be reported to the Conservation Officer Service by calling 1(800) 952-7277.

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