In a landmark case, a Whistler woman received a combined $60,000 fine this week for feeding bears from her Kadenwood home in the summer of 2018.
On Wednesday, North Vancouver Provincial Court handed Whistler's Zuzana Stevikova what the Conservation Office Service (COS) said was the highest overall penalty ever imposed under B.C.’s Wildlife Act. The majority of the penalty will go to the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation.
The investigation was launched in July 2018 after the COS received an anonymous complaint claiming that residents of the Kadenwood neighbourhood were deliberately feeding bears.
A sow and two cubs that were suspected to have been fed in Kadenwood were killed by the Crown agency in September 2018 after displaying “very troubling” behaviour on the scene, conservation officers said at the time.
Local grocery clerks interviewed by the COS said Stevikova purchased up to 10 cases of apples, 50 pounds of carrots and 15 dozen eggs on a weekly basis to feed the bears.
According to the court proceedings, Stevikova noticed the bears “looked skinny” and, by feeding them, believed she was preventing the public from calling the COS, which she thought would ultimately lead to their deaths.
“The primary concern of the COS is public safety. Illegally feeding or placing attractants to lure dangerous wildlife, such as bears, is an extremely dangerous activity,” said COS Sgt. Simon Gravel in a statement posted online Friday. “Once bears learn to associate humans with food, it creates a public safety risk.”
Pique will have more on this case and this week’s decision in Thursday’s print edition.