Four bears were killed by a conservation officer Tuesday in Revelstoke, the B.C. Conservation Officer Service has confirmed.

Spokesperson Gordon Hitchcock says the bears were adults and three were drawn into the city by human attractants like garbage.

The fourth bear in the city was described as emaciated and killed for health concerns. However, it too had been eating garbage.

"If bears get habituated to humans or ... conditioned to garbage, and their behaviour starts to become more threatening or aggressive, that's when the conservation officer has to, unfortunately, step in and euthanize the bear," he said.

One of the bears was seen in downtown Revelstoke and was even going in and out of shops, according to the city.

City wants new conservation officer

Revelstoke's director of corporate administration, Dawn Low, says the incident speaks to the need for a dedicated conservation officer to serve the city.

Revelstoke has been without a conservation officer since its last one retired in 2013, and now is served mostly from Golden, two hours away.

"The most important thing is definitely the safety of our citizens. Nobody's happy about what happened but residents' safety is definitely the most important thing," Low said. "It's a concern in many areas, not just in respect to bears. There's lots of other wildlife we have in our community."

"We've been without for three years and we have lobbied the province to get a conservation officer back to Revelstoke."

Low says the city has applied to speak with B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak about the situation, but hasn't received confirmation if she will meet with them.

In the meantime, Low says, the city will be more proactive in enforcing bylaws about picking up fruit from fruit trees and keeping garbage in secure areas so bears will be less drawn to the area.

Bear attractants need to be addressed

The city's "bear aware" program coordinator, Maggie Spizzirri, agrees bear attractants need to be better dealt with in the city.

She says most residents are good about keeping yards free of bear attractants, but at the same time, she says, 65 per cent of last year's bear encounters involved garbage.

"It's a bit of a feasting ground for them," she said. "If we all … try hard to keep that garbage secure and work with the city as well we'll be able to find a solution to reduce the attractants and thus, in turn, reducing the number of bears that are destroyed."

Spizzirri says this year has been a busier one for the city and bears are in the city earlier than usual.

She says that is probably because of this year's early berry season combined with the lure of garbage.

With files from CBC Radio One's Radio West

Corrections

  • In an earlier version of this story, a conservation officer reported three bears were killed. An officer later confirmed four bears were actually killed.
    Aug 18, 2016 2:11 PM PT