'Don't kill the bears': 3 charged with obstructing conservation officers searching for bear family
Mother and 2 cubs deemed 'heavily habituated and food conditioned' were eventually euthanized
Three people in Coquitlam, B.C., have been arrested and charged with allegedly obstructing a conservation officer who had been called to a search for a family of black bears.
Police were called around 3 p.m. PT Tuesday evening to the Chineside neighbourhood of Coquitlam, after a report of a bear sighting.
When conservation officers arrived they were confronted by several people.
"The three residents were actively interfering with the officers and would not comply with numerous commands," said conservation officer Todd Hunter.
As a result, the three were arrested with the assistance of Coquitlam RCMP.
Interfering with the capture of a bear is an offence against the B.C. Wildlife Act, Hunter said.
Conservation officers located the mother and two cubs a short time later.
"The family of bears were euthanized as they were heavily habituated and food conditioned to the area," said Hunter.
Susan Flint is one of the residents arrested Tuesday night. She said she heard a commotion on her front lawn and went outside to see a conservation officer with a shotgun chasing a bear.
"I just said: 'Don't kill the bears. Don't kill the bears. Like little cubs.'" she said.
Tony Faccin was also arrested Tuesday night and said he too heard a commotion and went outside to see the officers brandishing shotguns.
"They roared up like crazy from both sides with black trucks with their lights on," he said.
"The next thing I know, my kids are outside, and there's people running around with shotguns. It's ridiculous in a residential neighbourhood," he said.
Faccin said he took out his phone and started filming the events unfolding on his street.
When police arrived, Faccin was handcuffed, put in the back of the police cruiser and had his phone confiscated.
Multiple requests ignored
"The three people ignored multiple requests from conservation officers to back away from the situation," said Murray Smith, an inspector with Conservation Officer Service.
"Having the public interfere with this difficult job exacerbates this difficult situation," he said.
Conservation officers had been trying to capture the trio of bears for six weeks, after multiple reports of a mother and two cubs in the area.
Coquitlam mayor heartbroken
Coquitlam's mayor, Richard Stewart, says he is heartbroken over the deaths, but adds, residents were warned something like this could happen if they kept leaving out attractants.
"Once they are habituated, we've got no choice," said Stewart. "All too often, it's to euthanize the bear — and that just breaks my heart."
Six bears have been destroyed in Coquitlam so far this month.
The City of Coquitlam has issued 800 warnings for unsecured garbage so far this year and 50 tickets.
The mayor said that many of those infractions were in the same neighbourhood where this bear and her cubs were shot.
With files from Yvette Brend