Bear safari business will stop hand-feeding black bears

A New Brunswick tourism company says it will stop hand-feeding wild black bears, following the criticisms of a wildlife biologist who called the practice 'asinine.'

Decision comes on heels of criticisms by wildlife biologist who called practice 'asinine'

A black bear observation business in Acadieville, N.B., that came under fire earlier this week for hand-feeding wild bears, says it will no longer do so 2:28

A black bear observation business in Acadieville, N.B., that came under fire earlier this week for hand-feeding wild bears, says it will no longer do so.

Richard Goguen, of Little, Big Bear Safari, has been feeding the bears for years without incident.

He gives them meat, apples and nuts, while tourists watch the animals from a viewing tower, 14 metres off the ground.

But wildlife biologist Graham Forbes called the practice "asinine" and dangerous.

Goguen's wife, Vivianne Goguen, who co-owns the business, said the decision to stop hand-feeding the bears was made, in part, due to the biologist's comments.

The couple also wants to put people at ease, she said.

Still, she doesn't feel the practice put her husband or anyone else in danger.

"He's right in a certain point. We agree that if everybody would start hand-feeding the bears, we'd have a big problem in the area," said Goguen.

"But … we've been doing it 15 years and nobody had a bear in the area asking for food," she said. "The bears are in the wild, we keep them in the wild."

The Department of Natural Resources says it's not illegal to feed animals, but does warn against the practice.

The province's Department of Tourism has been using the safari business to promote New Brunswick as a tourist destination.