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Problem bear put down in View Royal had already been moved once

The black bear, which was getting into garbage and climbing onto porches to access food, had already been moved by conservation officers from a residential area in Langford in 2019
A black bear is seen near Lake Louise, Alta. Three cubs that were with the View Royal bear were transported to the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre in Errington. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Conservation officers put down a black bear in View Royal on Friday morning following reports over the past month of the animal getting into food and garbage on park trails and climbing onto porches looking for food.

The Conservation Officer Service said the bear had an ear tag, which means it had already been moved by conservation officers from a residential area in Langford in 2019.

“Bears that display food-conditioned behaviour and show a minimal fear of people are not candidates for relocation or rehabilitation, as the risk to public safety is too great,” the service said in a statement.

Three cubs that were with the bear were tranquillized Friday by conservation ­officers and have been transported to the North Island Wildlife ­Recovery Centre in Errington, after ­consultation with the provincial wildlife veterinarian and ­wildlife biologists.

They will undergo further assessment to determine if they’re suitable to be reared, the Conservation Officer Service said in a statement.

Officers determined the cubs were not exhibiting aggressive behaviour or conflict.

Melanie Austin, who lives near Thetis Lake Regional Park where the bear was trapped, said it’s upsetting that a bear was put down because of food and garbage that wasn’t secured.

“It’s really heartbreaking because it feels preventable, so it’s unfair to the wildlife,” she said.

Austin has reached out to View Royal to talk about waste management and possible bylaw changes to help prevent animals from becoming habituated to human food in the future.

She said she was encouraged to present her ideas to council at the next meeting.

“I believe our garbage cans could be more bear-proof. ­People just leave their garbage and compost out all week and I think they should be putting them in their garage or ­somewhere secured until garbage day to avoid this kind of thing,” she said.

Liz Williams, another View Royal resident near the park, said she has seen a lot of garbage and food left out on the trails in Thetis Lake.

“It doesn’t seem like there’s really a lot of concerted effort or bylaws for us to be coexisting better with the wildlife,” said Williams, a doctoral candidate at the University of Victoria studying human-animal relations.

WildSafeBC, a non-profit dedicated to preventing conflict between people and wildlife, recommends that those living in areas frequented by avoid storing garbage and other organic waste outside.

For residents who have ­curbside collection, the ­organization advises waiting until the morning of collection to put containers out and ensuring recyclables have been cleaned.

Most of the garbage cans in Thetis Lake Regional Park have been switched over to bear-proof cans and the rest will follow, said a Capital Regional District parks spokesperson.

Parks staff do regular ­cleanups of trails and there are also signs throughout Thetis Lake reminding people not to leave garbage or food on the trails and to pack it out, the CRD said.

The Conservation Officer Service said they will continue to monitor bear activity in the area. Reports can be made to the Report All Poachers and ­Polluters Line at 1-877-952-7277.

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