No bears killed in town over the course of a week shouldn’t be news, but after a bloody week in which nine were euthanized, it marks welcome news.
Conservation Officer Dan Bartol was in Revelstoke from Monday to Wednesday last week dealing with numerous problematic bears, but none were killed this time, he said.
“From the calls I’m receiving, the tone does seem to be changing. People are more apt to call and to say what’s happening in their neighbourhood. The conversation has definitely started and I think it’s certainly more positive than it was just a week ago,” he told the Review following his visit to Revelstoke from his base in Golden. “I’m happy for that but obviously we still have some very problematic bears, and some very problematic residents and businesses that are going to have to change if we’re going to stop euthanizing bears.”
Most of the problems were in the Big Eddy and Columbia Park. One bear in the Big Eddy was actually breaking into people’s homes. Bartol said he set some traps and issued orders for people to store their garbage.
“His level of habituation is at a dangerous level,” he said.
In Columbia Park, an apartment building was ordered to properly secure its garbage. Nearby, a bear got into garbage left outside a rental home. The tenants were ordered to secure their trash, though no fines were handed out.
Also in Columbia Park, a bear that was going from home to home looking for garbage was shot with rubber slugs in order to scare it away.
At another home, which was storing their food waste inside, a bear got into the garbage they did leave out. “He didn’t get a food reward, but where he took it to, it looked like he was taking garbage to the same location near the golf course,” said Bartol. “Again, a very habituated bear. Where he sees a garbage can, he associates it with food. He has obviously gotten garbage before and dragged it to the same location.”
Back in the Big Eddy, a bear that was looking for garbage was chased around, but the COs never caught up with it.
On Bend Road, past the Subway, a bear that was getting into a resident’s fruit trees and basically living in the person’s yard was trapped. The next morning, Bartol said he hazed the bear and shot it with rubber slugs. The hope is that it will go some place else, said Bartol.
“I don’t know if this is going to work, but I’m exhausting my resources so I don’t have to kill more bears,” he said. “The behaviour didn’t seem exactly like what all of last week’s bears were.”
Bartol said he would likely be back in Revelstoke this week. “We’re only in August. We have at least two more months where these bears are going to have to put on a lot more calories and get more and more desperate for food and this learned behaviour, if it continues to be rewarded, is not going to change,” he said.