The story of Panda, the black bear that created a spectacle after climbing into a tree downtown last week, came to a sad end when it was killed by the Conservation Service on Friday.
The Conservation Service was called to Revelstoke to tranquilize a black bear that climbed into a tree downtown Friday morning.
The situation created a public spectacle as tourists and locals crowded around 300 block of First Street West to take pictures of the bear and watch as RCMP and Conservation Service dealt with the bear.
The bear, named Panda by the Revelstoke RCMP climbed into the tree late Thursday night. By morning it was still there and unwilling or unable to climb down. The City of Revelstoke blocked off a section of sidewalk beneath the tree and an RCMP officer stayed parked in his cruiser while he waited for the COs to show up from Vernon.
Revelstoke has been without a Conservation Officer of its own since December when the provincial government opted to not replace the former officer who retired.
COs Michael Richardson and Terry Myroniuk arrived in Revelstoke from Vernon at around 11 a.m.
The COs assessed the situation and RCMP went and retrieved a mattress to soften the bear’s fall. A flat bed truck was brought in to limit the height of the bear’s fall.
Panda is believed to be the same bear that had been spotted several times downtown in the preceding days. It is thought to have been struck by a car several days earlier and on another occasion it ran up a power pole, nearly coming into contact with the power lines.
“We’re pretty confident it’s the same bear,” said Myroniuk while at the scene. “It seems to have that pattern of hanging down in the core and treeing readily. Our plan is to immobilize him and get him down and assess him.”
By this point a large crowd had gathered to watch officials deal with the bear. The crowd had to be pushed back to allow the bear an escape route should it have chosen to run after being shot with a tranquilizer.
“It’s an unpredictable animal,” said Myroniuk. “We can’t say what it’s going to do when it hits.”
The first dart was fired at about 11:45 a.m. The shot struck the bear, but appeared to have little affect. The bear continued to sit in the tree, showing little affect from the tranquilizer. “It did hit the bear in a good location but sometimes they just don’t get the drug into the muscle tissue because there’s a lot of fat on their hind end at this time of year,” Myroniuk said.
A second shot was fired about 15 minutes later. This one was successful and the bear started to lose strength. It struggled to hold onto the branches and stay in the tree. Myroniuk and RCMP Cpl. Thomas Blakney jumped onto the flat bed and tugged at the branches to force the bear from the tree.
Finally, the bear lost its grip and tumbled onto the mattress. A big cheer went up as the bear lay dazed on the truck, two darts stuck into its hide. The crowd moved in to take pictures while the bear was moved into the back of the CO’s truck. Some people even came up to pet the bear.
The bear was given a quick inspection for signs of injury. The COs then took it away from the busy downtown to give it a closer look away from people.
“As I suspected with my initial look, it wasn’t in the best shape,” Myroniuk told the Times Review later in the day. “It’s lower left canine had a big abscess. There was a bit of tooth left but it was rotten and it was swollen down below.”
He added that the rest of Panda’s teeth on the lower left jaw were infected and that it was favouring it’s right hind leg.
They also looked at the bear’s recent history around people. The result — they chose to kill the bear.
“When we have situations like that, even if there hadn’t been the obvious injuries and tooth issues, relocation just isn’t an option for an animal who’s habituated to people and people as food source,” said Myroniuk. “Unfortunately, despite all our best efforts, sometimes the script’s been written at the start.”
He called the situation a community problem, saying that if people were more careful about leaving garbage out and picking their fruit, problem bear situations could be avoided.
“Unfortunately at the end of the day we fail as a community to be bear aware and prevent bears from coming into our neighbourhoods by reducing attractants,” he said. “It sucks. We do have to put bears down in these types of situations.”
His comments were echoed by Sue Davies, Revelstoke’s Bear Aware coordinator.
“We wouldn’t have quite so many bears being habituated to humans and comfortable in town if we didn’t allow them to get into food. It’s that same old story, it’s not a complicated story,” she said. “We have to put away our garbage, pick our fruit trees and make sure all that food is not available to bears and we won’t have these issues cropping up so regularly.”