British Columbia Woman Fine $ 60,000 for Feeding Bears She Thought Helping | The Canadian News

A Whistler, BC woman was fined $ 60,000 for feeding bears three years ago she thought she was helping, according to a recently released court ruling in the case.

Zuzana Stevikova was sentenced last month after pleading guilty to two counts under the Wildlife Act of repeatedly feeding black bears between June and August 2018, an action that resulted in the BC Conservation Officers Service killing a mother bear and two cubs that had become habituated to human food.

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Whistler woman handed over $ 60,000 in fines for regularly feeding bears

Witnesses recalled seeing up to five bears at a time at Stevikova’s luxurious home in Kadenwood, and said they heard her address a bear by the name of “Lilly.”

Stevikova was found to have bought products in bulk to feed the bears, including up to 10 boxes of apples, 50 pounds of carrots and pears, and up to 15 dozen eggs, all weekly.

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“(She) told one witness that she was feeding the bears and felt they needed help as they looked skinny and she was concerned for their well-being and told another that she was feeding the bears so that the people of Whistler would not complain about them and conservation officials would not kill them, ”according to the ruling of BC Provincial Court Judge Lyndsay Smith.

“I wanted to know what I could or should do. Instead of contacting provincial wildlife resources for information, he spoke to an ‘expert.’

The court heard that Stevikova and her spouse had donated nearly $ 20,000 to animal charities since 2015 and that she was a vegan “having modified her diet to match her views on the value of animals.”

Judge Smith ruled that Stevikova’s good intentions did not mitigate her guilt in the case, particularly since messages about bear safety and wildlife regulations were widely distributed in Whistler.

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Instead, Stevikova “intentionally circumvented the province’s wildlife management plan,” Smith found.

“The bears weren’t hers and her good intentions go against the common knowledge of users of the wilderness in this province: food or other attractants for bears or other dangerous wildlife are not omitted,” Smith wrote.

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“Here, there was real damage to the environment, if such a phrase can adequately capture the death of an adult bear and her two cubs.”

That finding was reflected in the $ 60,000 fines, which significantly exceeded Crown and Defense’s joint filing of a $ 10,500 fine.

The maximum combined penalty available for the two charges Stevikova pleaded guilty to was $ 150,000 and 18 months in jail.

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“That to me was unbelievable, that the judge found the deaths of three animals was unbelievable, that the judge found that the deaths of three animals was an aggravating factor,” animal law attorney Rebeka Breder told Global News.

“We cannot feed wildlife. Ultimately, it will result in your death. And if you even try to feed and attract them, you could be exposed to a very hefty fine. “

All fines, except $ 1,000, will be directed to the Habitat Conservation Foundation.

The charges against Stevikova’s partner, Oliver Dugan, were dropped.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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