Vernon RCMP dispatch black bear across from detachment

Safety concerns for civilians and school kids cited as main reason for dispatching bear that wandered into downtown Vernon

Vernon RCMP dispatched a two-year-old black bear that had scampered up a tree directly across from the detachment on 35th Avenue Wednesday.

An officer walking out of the rear of the building at 4 a.m. noticed the bear walking down the sidewalk. As soon as the animal saw or heard the officer, it ran up a nearby tree.

“We gave it some time thinking maybe the bear would go away. We gave it ample time and space but the bear did not go away,” said Vernon RCMP Cpl. Gerry Kovacs.

Officers tried to get a hold of conservation officers but could not reach one.

As the area is located a block from Beairsto Elementary School, and a block from where many residents use the Civic Arena parking lot to park as they walk southbound toward their respective offices, police had to make the difficult decision to shoot the bear.

“The big issue is the schoolyard and the people going to work,” said Kovacs. “We were faced with a situation that had to be dealt with before we start having problems.

“We can’t be chasing around a bear at 6:30 in the morning. These things have a way of going sideways as soon as you start entering a bunch of people onto our sidewalks and roadways. It becomes a situation that’s unmanageable.”

Other issues for the police to consider were the fact they could not contain the scene as the bear, of course, has legs. And, the RCMP detachment is located in the middle of the city.

“We’ve got a potential hazard here but it’s not a hazard we can just block off street and say, ‘sorry go another way there’s a bear here,’” said Kovacs.

“We’re not on East Hill or Coldstream where the bear wandered in a little ways into the city and we can risk-manage the bear. He’s got a lot of turf to cover to get back to his natural environment.”

There have been other reports of bears being in the downtown core over the years.