A male black bear entered a home in the View Street area while the resident was home on Sunday afternoon. After eating a plate of cookies and some butter, and once Nelson police and a conservation officer had been called to the scene, it was destroyed while rooting through a garbage can.
That’s the inevitable outcome for a food-conditioned bear, conservation officer Jason Hawkes told the Star Tuesday morning.
Hawkes, along with Nelson police, was called to the View Street area at 1 p.m. When they arrived at the scene, the bear was loping from yard to yard investigating a variety of unsecured attractants. This was only the most recent report involving this bear, which has been routinely traipsing into people’s yards and snuffling through their garbage, Hawkes said.
“We followed the bear going from house to house looking for attractants,” he said. “It had been around off and on. There had been reports of it accessing garbage and it got so food-conditioned it was willing to go inside a house. So then it was destroyed.”
Hawkes shot the bear with a rifle.
“Once it gets to that point, it would return eventually or look to another area.”
Hawkes said bears in close proximity to human populations can cause problems such as property and vehicle damage, not to mention the possibility (albeit rare) that it may attack a person.
“There’s a really simple solution,” said Hawkes. “Make your attractants inaccessible to bears and wildlife.”
He said the area’s problem attractants include unsecured garbage, outdoor refrigerators and compost heaps. He’s been working with residents to bear-proof their yards, but said work still needs to be done. Not properly securing your garbage can end up costing you a $230 fine, but Hawkes said he hasn’t handed out any yet.
“There were some warnings issued. People are self-reporting so we work with the property owner, and they voluntarily participate. We haven’t had a non-comply yet.”
Hawkes said there are “bears all over the North Shore and in the Nelson area,” but that this particular bear was the most problematic. He said he’s not aware of any other specific bear issues at the moment, but emphasized again that the best way to ensure that remains the case is to properly secure your garbage.
Meanwhile, a cougar has been sighted twice in Fairview. The first report was on Friday around 7:30 a.m., while the second was Sunday at 8:30 p.m.
In the first instance, police were unable to find the animal that was spotted around Care to Learn Children’s Centre and L.V. Rogers Secondary. Sgt. Dino Falcone said the report came from someone dropping their daughter off at the daycare. The medium-size cat vanished into the bush.
“We circled the whole area with three different units but weren’t able to locate it,” Falcone said. “We did alert as many people as we could. We’re quite concerned.”
Police also notified the high school and conservation officer.
Nicola Forrester, senior supervisor at Care to Learn, said kids did go outside but remained in the yard and didn’t go for a walk. She said she wasn’t especially worried: “Not really. I think everyone’s aware we live in an area with cougars.”
Hawkes said these were Nelson’s first cougar sightings this year: “View [Street] is a major wildlife corridor. It is and will continue to be, because it’s got a large green space behind it.”
He said the most important thing is for parents to ensure all pets and small children aren’t left outside unattended, especially during evening hours.
If you come into contact with a cougar that does not run away, stay calm, stand your ground and don’t back down. Back away slowly if possible and safe to do so. Pick up children, but do not bend down, turn your back or run. Running triggers an innate predatory response in cougars which could lead to an attack.
Raise your voice and speak firmly. Raise your arms to make yourself look larger, clap your hands, and throw something you might have in your hands, like a water bottle. Again, do not bend over to pick up a stone off the ground. This action may trigger a pounce response in a cougar.
Report any cougar sightings to the RAPP line 1-877-952-7277 or the Nelson Police Department at 250-354-3919.
— With files from Greg Nesteroff