Conservation officer Nathan Smienk shot and killed a large adult male black bear near Sixth and Fell Streets in Fairview on Friday afternoon. The bear was high in a spruce tree in a residential back yard.
“It had been up there since five this morning,” he told the Star, “so you have a stressed, food-conditioned bear, and that is a recipe for unsafe. The Nelson city police called us and the homeowner called us as well.”
Smienk said the conservation officer service has received many complaints about bears in that neighbourhood recently, so he assumed it was habituated to eating garbage and the large amount of fruit in yards in that part of town.
He said his only options were to shoot the bear or leave it there. He said he could have tranquilized and trapped it but then he would have had to kill it anyway, because “we do not re-locate black bears.”
Smienk said that is because such bears will either return or start the same behaviour in their new location. He also said with black bears there is “no conservation concern.”
Sgt. Corey Hoy of the Nelson Police Department, who was also on the scene, said that once the bear was shot, it did not fall from the tree, and a Nelson Hydro line truck needed to be called in so workers could release it.
He said he does not consider this incident a problem of the individual homeowner, but that it is the responsibility of the neighbourhood and the community at large to reduce bear attractants.