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Hunters fined for killing black bears in prohibited areas

Two bears killed illegally in separate incidents
A TROUBLING SIGN The Conservation Officer Service says it's received several reports of vehicles in a closed section of the Elaho Forest Service Road that's an important area for grizzly bear habitat. Photo courtesy of The Conservation Officer Service

Two black bears were killed illegally by hunters recently in a pair of separate incidents in the Sea to Sky, confirmed the Conservation Officer Service (COS).

The first incident took place on April 27 when conservation officers following a public tip tracked down a group of hunters who had illegally shot and killed a black bear in an area closed to motorized vehicles near the 41-kilometre mark of the Elaho Forest Service Road.

The area is typically closed to vehicles at this time of year in order to protect grizzly bear habitat, explained conservation officer Simon Gravel.

“It’s an important time of year and also a very important location for grizzly mating season,” he said.

Gravel added that the COS will step up enforcement after receiving several reports of vehicles in the area.

The black bear’s carcass was seized and the individuals were issued tickets for unlawful possession of dead wildlife and operating a motor vehicle in a closed area. The fines for the offences are $345 and $230, respectively.

The second shooting was reported on May 4 after the public tipped off the COS again that two hunters had killed a black bear on private property just off the Lillooet Forest Service Road near Pemberton Meadows.

After getting a description of the vehicle, conservation officers working with local police were able to intercept the two male hunters with the bear’s carcass still in the car.

On top of the ticket for unlawful possession of dead wildlife, the men were issued a $230 fine for illegally hunting on cultivated property.

Black bear hunting is legal in B.C. on certain areas of Crown land at specific times of year, Gravel said, so it’s essential hunters know “where they are, what they’re doing, and it it’s legal to do it in that location.”

He also emphasized the importance of the Conservation Officer Service’s RAPP line in stemming poaching and other unlawful incidents involving wildlife.

“(These incidents) show how important it is for the public to report violations when they see something,” he said. “Reporting to the RAPP line goes a long way.”

Poaching is a constant problem for the COS, Gravel said, noting a deer that was killed by a hunter on private land in 2013. That same year, Brett Michael Eyben of Squamish was sentenced to pay a $100 fine in addition to $9,900 to a wildlife conservation fund after killing a male grizzly bear along Hurley River Road.

Eyben had a license to hunt black bears and told the courts he believed he was shooting at a black bear at the time of the incident.

The Conservation Officer Service RAPP line is 1-877-952-7277.