A mother bear and a cub were put down before New Year’s in the Waynes Road area of Chemainus after constantly accessing a garbage source.
Another cub that had been spotted in the area previously could not be located when conservation officers returned to the site and they presume it may have gone off to hibernate.
Here’s the bear necessities from conservation personnel: people need to lock up their garbage so bears will not keep returning and will eventually move on.
“I hate putting animals down,” conceded Stuart Bates, a conservation officer in Nanaimo.
But he said the options for relocation are limited the longer bears have been in an area where garbage is available.
George Gibson, a resident in the area, said the two bears were tranquilized Dec. 29 and taken away. Conservation officers returned Jan. 2 looking for the other cub, “but the last one ran away,” said Gibson.
Bates pointed out the three bears had actually been located initially in a tree.
“We had told people to put away their garbage and they’ll climb down and they’ll leave,” he said. “After three days, they didn’t leave.”
Bates added there was a long lapse of time when the bears first arrived before conservation was informed that proved critical.
“Bears had been there for months and accessing garbage and nobody called us,” he indicated.
Plastic bags were detected in bear scat among the momma and one cub.
Bates stressed there are always more options with how to handle bears when the public contacts conservation sooner after they’re spotted and keeps its garbage locked up.
The relocation process often doesn’t work well because bears can travel long distances. “We’ve had them go from as far as Buckley Bay to Bamfield,” noted Bates.
One bear in the Parksville region was relocated to Nanaimo Lakes. “Two days later, it was in Ladysmith,” said Bates.
“Sometimes they just go to the nearest town. It’s not we don’t try, we do try.”
He added the one orphaned cub may do all right. They’ve been known to be as young as six months and still survive.
“He may go hibernate on his own if he’s lost access to that food,” said Bates.
There’s also a myth about bears hibernating in general, he added.
“Some places on Vancouver Island, bears do not hibernate. They hibernate because of a lack of food.”
In the case of the three Waynes Road bears, they were all healthy-looking critters because of the fat and probably had no intention of hibernating as long as they could keep gorging themselves.