Grizzly bears relocated from Cherryville

Conservation officers urged residents to take action on livestock, fruit and garbage

Conservation officers Dave Cox and Ken Owens check on three bears being relocated from Cherryville.

Conservation officers Dave Cox and Ken Owens check on three bears being relocated from Cherryville.

Cherryville residents are being given a chance to clean up their act and save bears.

On Saturday, conservation officers captured a mature sow grizzly and her two 10-month-old cubs from Cherryville and relocated them to a location in the Monashee Mountains.

“Bears that are trans-located are exposed to large amounts of stress and generally suffer high mortality rates once transferred,” said Ken Owens, officer.

“This measure was taken as an interim measure to allow residents adequate time to properly secure and prevent access to attractants.  It is like a get out of jail free card for the community.”

Over the past month these bears were accessing a variety of food sources near residents and putting public safety at risk.

“It was anticipated these bears would keep moving and return to the nearby mountains where high quality grizzly habitat exists,” said Owens.

“Unfortunately, the bears began to access unprotected crab apple trees next to residences and garbage. The bears further gained access to a chicken pen killing several chickens.  The coop was not protected by electric fencing.”

Conservation officers worked with the Ministry of Forests’ wildlife branch to establish a plan for capturing and removing the bears from Cherryville, as the risk of conflict was growing.

“The bears’ behaviour and level of habituation was accessed and they were deemed to be good candidates for translocation,” said Owens.

On Saturday, they were captured at a residence near Frank’s Store, ear-tagged and moved to the far end of their home range within the Monashee Mountains.

However, Owens admits residents need to change their habits if the bears are to stay away.

“The capturing and translocation of this family unit of grizzly bears is not a success in terms of conservation, but rather a serious failure to control and restrict access to attractants,” said Owens of garbage, fruit and livestock.

“Translocation will cost far more then taking proactive steps to prevent the creation of problem bears and will not stop the problem in the medium to long term.”

A Wild Safe B.C. co-ordinator will host an electric fence workshop in Cherryville.

“Electric fences have been a successful tool to protect livestock, chickens, bees, fruit trees, gardens, buildings and campsites from bears,” said Owens.

“For this translocation of family unit of grizzly bears to successfully work the behaviours and circumstances that created this situation  need to change. Bears that become highly food conditioned and habituated to humans are often destroyed because of concerns for human safety.”