Conservation officers in Port Alberni have euthanized two bears—including one thought to have taken a swipe at a man last week.
The COs were searching for bears in the area of Gyro Recreation Park and the Paramount Theatre after a woman said on social media that a bear had attacked her father in their yard. Bear traps had already been set nearby after earlier complaints.
In the end, the bears weren’t caught in the traps, Central Island conservation officer Sgt. Stuart Bates said.
“They did manage to remove two bears. They weren’t caught in the trap,” Bates said. “They were actually witnessed by the conservation officers (exhibiting) human habituated behaviour.”
One bear was cornered in the 3000-block of 12th Avenue and the other was treed and tranquilized at Fourth Avenue and Burde Street.
“The COs were able to tranquilize them, examine them and then euthanize them,” Bates said.
“What they found was one of the bears, the measurement on his paws was consistent with paw prints they found at the site of the incident.”
The paw was the same size as one found on the pants of the man who said he was attacked.
“We can’t be 100 percent sure because in the incident there was no DNA,” Bates added.
The bears had to be euthanized because of the bear-human conflict, and the fact they were garbage bears—habituated to eating trash and fruit left on fruit trees.
The carcasses were buried deep enough that animals won’t get at them, he said.
“We do sometimes offer hides to First Nations. In this case we didn’t.”
A necropsy and DNA tests meant the hide was not suitable, he added.
While the trap near Gyro Recreation Park has been removed, there are still others set around the Alberni Valley in areas where bears have shown other human-habituated behaviour.
Bates said the decision to euthanize or destroy a bear “is always based on their behaviour and not their presence.”
There are still bears present in Port Alberni, and Bates implored people to deal with their fruit trees and keep their garbage stored in a bear safe manner.
“Bears come into Port Alberni every fall because of the fish. Then they stay because there’s lots of other food,” he said.
“It is that time of year. People have to secure their garbage.”