Calling to report abnormal or aggressive bear behaviour in your neighbourhood is not what results in dead bears — it’s the people who attract them who are responsible.
Terry Myroniuk, conservation officer, admits that having to put down bears who have become a threat to people and property is the worst part of his job.
“I hate to have to pull the trigger.”
However, he says he would feel far worse if there weren’t complaints about a bear in a neighbourhood who had become aggressive — so the CO service wasn’t aware of a possible problem—and then that bear’s behaviour escalated until it resulted in someone being attacked or injured.
The Report all Poachers and Polluters toll-free line is: 1-877-952-7277.
So, while he doesn’t want people to report sightings of bears who are spotted in greenbelts or who are not behaving abnormally, he also warns people that if they don’t report an aggressive bear to the CO service call centre, COs don’t become aware that there could be a problem in a particular neighbourhood.
Abnormal behaviour includes day-active bears who are snooping close to houses; bears who are following people or showing an interest in them; bears guarding garbage, since it’s not a natural food source, and who can’t be scared away from it, or bears who act aggressively or huff at people.
When people don’t report such behaviour because they’re concerned the animal will be killed, they can be putting their whole community at risk, he said.
Shorter days and cooler nights in September and October cause bears to want to fatten up by feeding most of their waking hours, particularly focussing on high-calorie foods, to prepare for their winter sleep.
That’s often when they wander into areas of human settlement where ripe fruit, pet food, bird feeders and garbage provide a banquet of easy pickings for them.
“They can spend a half hour getting a few berries in the wild or five minutes getting a feed out of someone’s garbage,” said Myroniuk.
Residents who don’t store their garbage indoors until as close as possible to when the garbage is collected can be charged if that is attracting bears.
A dangerous wildlife protection order can result in a $575 fine for the first offence, said Myroniuk.