Vernon among BC’s ‘deadliest communities’ for black bears |

Vernon, BC made a top five list that no community wants to be on.

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A provincial advocacy group called The Fur-Bearers named the town after a list of the “deadliest communities” for black bears after data showed conservation officers euthanized 16 bears in the area last year.

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Prince George was in first place with 36 dead bears.

“Ultimately, we want to see black bears and humans co-exist in the province. We want to protect black bears and one way to do that is to identify those areas where there is a real problem,” said Aaron Hofman, director of advocacy and policy for The Fur-Bearers.

“We want to challenge the status quo of using deadly force against bears and do everything we can to reduce the number of killings in our communities.”

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Fur-Bearers “Deadliest Communities for Bears 2021” list.

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The group hopes that the data, obtained through a freedom of information requestencourages residents to reduce human-bear conflicts and ultimately the number of bears that are killed.

“We want to publish this data to essentially equip citizens … to show them that there is a problem in their community and that they can be part of the solution to reduce the number of bears dying in that community,” Hofman said.

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“So that may mean, on an individual level, taking steps to manage your attractants, making sure they’re not feeding wildlife, picking fruit from fruit trees, but also advocating for stricter statutes, ensuring statutes are followed. against feeding wildlife. and attractive.”

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The data shows that the number of black bears killed by conservation officers in the Vernon area last year was unusually high compared to previous years, and it appears the destructive wildfire season likely played a role.

In 2021, the massive White Rock Lake Fire near Vernon grew to more than 200,000 acres before it was stopped.

The province has confirmed that some bears were euthanized in the region in 2021 due to wildfires: either because they were injured or because they broke into evacuated homes where food was rotting.

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Still, Vernon’s public works general manager said he was surprised by The Fur-Bearers’ data.

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“We were a little taken aback. This was not information that was readily available to us,” said Chris Ovens.

Coincidentally, however, the municipality has already been working to update its bylaws around waste disposal and animal attractants.

Ovens said the proposed charter change would stipulate that waste not be put out the night before collection and “will also talk about the responsibility of residents and the storage of their waste collection carts and the curb appeal associated with that.” ”.

The statute would allow the city of Vernon to be more proactive in dealing with trash that attracts bears rather than waiting for conservation officials to intervene.

The proposed rule changes are expected to come before the city council beginning in August and could go into effect this fall if they receive support from the city council.

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In response to Global News’ request to interview a conservation officer, the province said no one was available and issued a statement.

The sad reality is that when people don’t take those precautions, bears are euthanized to keep people safe.

“The Conservation Officers Service works to minimize human-wildlife conflict and reduce risk to people in communities across the province,” the statement said.

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“All preventative actions taken by the service are focused on keeping bears in the wild and ensuring attractants are properly protected. The sad reality is that when people don’t take those precautions, bears are euthanized to keep people safe.”

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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