Whistler loses three bears in two weeks 

Three bears have been killed in the Whistler area in the last two weeks – two hit by cars and the third destroyed by conservation officers after repeatedly entering residences.

On June 14 a cub was struck and killed by a motor vehicle north of Emerald Estates on Highway 99. This is the second bear to die on Highway 99 in less than two weeks. The other was a dominant adult male hit on June 6 near Nesters.

In addition to the highway accidents, conservation officers destroyed a cinnamon-coloured yearling on June 15 after repeated complaints about undesirable behavior, including entering residences in search of food. The bear was immobilized and later destroyed after being found in the kitchen of a home on Balsam Way. The yearling had returned to the area after being relocated to the Interpretive Forest on June 8.

Sylvia Dolson of the Whistler Bear Society explained that the yearling was destroyed out of fear that it would continue its bold behaviour. Attempts were made to dissuade the bear from human contact, including treating it to a "hard release" during its relocation.

A hard release is an attempt to teach the bear to associate humans with negative experiences.

Unfortunately, noted Dolson, the reward of obtaining food from residences reinforced the bear’s bad behavior: "The hard release was only one negative experience, compared to the numerous positive experiences of successfully getting food from residences."

Dolson cautioned that Whistler residents should not let bears become accustomed to people and should "shoo" them away from residential areas.

"We have to teach the bears to respect our boundaries," she said. "By letting bears in our yard we allow them to become comfortable around humans. The bears become bolder and more tolerant of people, and eventually cross the line of undesirable behavior. It is the responsibility of all of us not to let bears get to that stage."

Cougar seen again

Conservation officer Chris Doyle has received numerous reports of wildlife activity in the past week, including a number of bear incidents, a cougar sighting, and dogs seen chasing deer along Alta Lake Road.

The brother of a cinnamon-colored yearling bear that was recently destroyed has been the source of numerous complaints in the Creekside and Nordic Estates areas. The bear is known to have entered houses in search of food. Conservation officers plan to relocate the animal at least 60 km away if it can be caught.

Another bear ripped through two tents at Riverside Campground earlier this week. A live trap has been set up to catch the bear. If caught it will be relocated a short distance and treated to a hard release.

Doyle also reported a cougar sighting near the Husky gas station in Creekside on the morning of June 16. It is not yet known if it is the same animal that was seen in the area last month. Doyle is currently following up on the sighting.

Doyle has also received complaints about dogs seen chasing deer in the Alta Lake Road area on the west side of Alta Lake. He noted this is a violation of the Wildlife Act, and if the owners are found they will be charged.

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