Conservation officer destroys 'alpha male' 

350-pound bear charged RCMP officer after breaking into house

The B.C. Conservation Officer Service has killed its fourth bear of the season in Whistler after a 350-pound black bear broke into a house in the Brio neighbourhood.

The incident occurred at approximately 2:30 a.m. on July 30 while the occupants were home. The bear got into the house through an unlocked door. The bear, looking for food, destroyed the kitchen before the RCMP arrived and chased the bear out of the house, according to conservation officer Drew Milne.

It wasn’t until 5:30 a.m. that morning that the bear was attracted to a food reward inside a trap and caught.

The bear was then taken to Squamish and killed with a telezol injection to the hind area. The bear’s hide was given to the Squamish First Nation for “cultural purposes,” according to Milne.

It is B.C. Conservation Officer Service policy to kill a bear if it has shown aggressive behaviour, such as breaking into a house.

This is the fourth bear that has been killed this season and the second in 10 days after another bear broke into a townhouse in the Montebello neighbourhood.

The Brio bear had been encountered previously but was not tagged.

“He was an unidentified bear that we had not captured previously,” Milne said. “We’re pretty sure we know who he was.”

Milne said bears can be identified through DNA analysis because they often leave hair behind.

“From previous break and enters, when the bear breaks in, we’re not able to see it afterwards,” he said. “It can usually leave some sort of hair behind, and then we take that hair and we analyze the DNA.”

Milne said the bear from the July 30 incident was not scared of anyone present and displayed “aggressive behaviour” towards them. That behaviour included charging an RCMP officer and making “jaw-popping” noises, a sign of stress for a black bear.

Black bears are generally seen as shy animals, but Milne said that can vary from bear to bear.

“It depends on the bear, their hunger, and just the particular condition that they’re in, if they’re really a hungry bear and some bears are more aggressive than others,” he said. “This bear (was) a very dominant bear, obviously being, he’s 20-plus years old. So he’s lived a long life and he’s very big. Being that big, he’s an alpha male.”

Milne added that he wasn’t sure whether the bear had been seen in previous seasons, but he said it’s “definitely possible.”

He described the property in question as a “problem house” that had lots of issues in the past with regard to bears approaching it. That usually happened because garbage and attractants were located around the house.

“The occupants, I guess, had not closed their door fully, they had closed it but not enough that it had locked, so the bear pushed its way through,” he said.

Milne previously told Pique that Brio has been a popular place for bear encounters due to attractants in the area.

He said conservation officers have been working hard to minimize all attractants in the area as well as working with the Bear Aware educational program to keep the public aware of the bear presence in Brio. Those efforts have included knocking on doors to increase awareness.

Milne is now encouraging the public to take action to keep bears away from their houses — actions that include locking doors and protecting garbage.

He has also asked that all bear encounters be reported to the B.C. Conservation Officer Service at 1-877-952-7277 (RAPP).

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