A black bear that wandered into the City Campground last week was destroyed by the local conservation officer.
Just after 1 p.m. Tuesday, panicked campers alerted campground staff to a bear in the immediate area. The bruin had wandered down to the campground on High Street through the forested area behind the site.
Officials were called to the scene and concerned campers hunkered down in the facility’s shelter to avoid escalating the situation.
Before the conservation officer and Nelson Police Department members arrived, the bear was scared off. It rambled up the bank behind the campground and climbed high into a tree.
“If we are called out to deal with a bear, unless the bear finds its own way back into the bush, the results are not the best,” said Nelson Police Department Sgt. Janet Scott-Pryke. “But we don’t have much of a choice.”
Because the frightened bear showed no signs of coming down from where it had climbed, when the conservation officer arrived the decision was made to destroy the animal.
“There are a lot of people in that area with the campground and it’s a residential area,” said Scott-Pryke. “It’s amazing that it got down that far, but it’s not the first time this has happened.”
Though Nelson police officers assisted, it was the conservation officer who shot the bear.
“We have to assess the situation and make sure it can be done safely,” Scott-Pryke said of the process of firing within city limits. “We don’t just shoot willy nilly and everything is taken into account. Public safety is obviously paramount.”
Officials are asking the public to be diligent with garbage disposal so that situations like last week’s can be avoided in the future.
“If the bear reached a point where it has lost its aversion to people and become used to eating garbage instead of foraging for natural diet in the bush… it makes it easy for them and they stay,” said Scott-Pryke.
The veteran police officer said it’s upsetting for all involved when bears need to be destroyed.
“Thankfully we don’t have to do it very often,” she said. “For the officers involved, it’s not an easy thing to do because we don’t want to have to kill an animal.”
To report bear problems call the RAPP line at 1-877-952-7277. If you have questions about solutions to human-bear conflicts email the local Bear Aware office at firstname.lastname@example.org.