B.C. farmer fined over 4 grizzly bear deaths

A B.C. farmer will have to pay $2,000 for failing to report the killing of a grizzly sow and its 3 cubs in a mountain valley between Prince George and Jasper in 2014.

Grizzly sow with 3 cubs shot near Dunster in 2014

Alberta's grizzly bears are slowly waking up from their winter slumber. (Ginevre Smith)

A B.C.court has fined a farmer over the 2014 shooting deaths of a grizzly bear sow and its three cubs in a mountain valley between Prince George and Jasper, Alta.

Arlan Harry Baer must pay a $500 fine and a $1,500 payment to the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation.

"In a perfect world, we would never get these sort of court awards, because these sort of infractions would never take place," said Brian Springinotic, CEO of the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation. "Court awards paid to us at least let that money find its way back to the geographic region or the types of species and habitat impacted ... as a way of mitigating damage done by the offender."

The court may earmark the money for projects related to grizzly conservation.

The case began in September of 2014 with a public complaint about the death of the bears.

"Grizzly bears are considered a threatened species in this province," said Sgt. Rory Smith, of the B.C. Conservation Service, who was part of a two year investigation. "Yes, it is significant."

Baer, who raises Holstein dairy cows on his family farm, was eventually charged with six offenses under the Wildlife Act. They included hunting without a bear licence, killing out of season, resisting or obstructing an officer, unlawful possession of dead wildlife, and failure to state the date or location of wildlife killed.

But in provincial court, Baer pleaded guilty to one charge of failing to report the killing or wounding of wildlife. The remaining five charges were stayed.

"We do not want to be losing ... females. They are very, very slow reproducing, especially as you get into the Interior of the province and off the salmon streams. We do not want to be losing or killing adult females," said wildlife consultant Lana Ciarniello. 

She said conflicts with grizzly bears are "unfortunately common" in agricultural areas, saying some bear advocates are working at mitigating conflict between farmers and the animals.

Ciarniello said preventative measures including moving calves closer to farm houses, building strong barriers, storing grain, and keeping livestock away from the edge of forests can help keep bears away.

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