Invermere property owner takes bear control into his own hands

Conservation reports resident should have informed them when he killed a bear on his property

File photo of black bear.

File photo of black bear.

Invermere’s bear kill count has raised to five this year after a mature black bear was killed in the Toby Benches area. Conservation Service was informed of the bear’s death after reports that a black bear had been poached and dumped in a secluded area of the benches. Upon conservations’ further investigation, the animal had been fatally shot by a property owner protecting his property.

“We investigated where the shot had come from and met up with the property owner who confirmed that they shot a black bear in defense of their property,” said conservation officer Greg Kruger. “The bear had been around for a few days and was breaking into a chicken coop, and killing and eating chickens and their eggs.”

In this particular case, the property owner was protected under the wildlife act to shoot the bear but Mr. Kruger warned people that they need to be careful of what property is.

“There were domestic animals being killed by the bear as well as damage to this individuals’ building, so this particular case people have the right under the provincial wildlife act to defend themselves and property,” said Mr. Kruger.

The property owner was charged by conservation officers due to the property owners’ failure to report the killing of the animal.

“If we look into it and it’s justified as a threat to themselves or damage to property then all they have to do is report it to us as soon as practical. If they don’t do that then it’s an offense under the wildlife act for failing to report,” said Mr. Kruger.

Fines for failing to report is a specified penalty of $115 but each case is judged on a case by case basis. Individuals may obtain a warning, specified penalty, or face a judge depending on the incident.

“This particular case it would have been justified for him to take action on his own, provided he reported it to us,” said Mr. Kruger, adding that ideally, what he should have done is reported it to the CO service right away and they would have worked with him to remove the animal.

The problem bear had been lingering on the property for three to four days and broke a window of a secure chicken shed, in which the bear continued to enter and kill the livestock over the course of the days leading to its death. However, the property owner never reported the bear to conservation so conservation officers were unable to intervene before the animal’s death.

“With this particular case he would have been justified because of that, it was a pretty secure shed where he had these chickens in. We would still have worked with him if there was anything done prior to this bear dying than we would have looked at those options first,” said Mr. Kruger.

Mr. Kruger said, “We would have worked with him to come up with a solution. That’s what we don’t want is people to go vigilante with wildlife taking matters into their own hands.”

Conservation services are reminding the public that when in doubt report a problem bear so they can assist in mitigating any conflicts. To report a bear call the Report All Poacher and Polluters Line at 1-877-952-7277.