British Columbia

Conservation officers put down black bear that swiped at 2 people on Burnaby Mountain

Conservation officers have caught and put down a black bear that swiped at two people Monday at a park on Burnaby Mountain.

Officers found the bear eating garbage in a residential backyard

Two officers set a live trap in the Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area to catch a bear that swatted at two picknickers in the area on June 24, 2019. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Conservation officers have caught and put down an adult black bear that lunged and swiped at two people who were picnicking Monday at a park on Burnaby Mountain.

At about 3 p.m. PT Tuesday, officers received a report that the bear was in a residential backyard, in an area just below Simon Fraser University.

The found the bear eating garbage out of a secured garbage bin that it had broken into.

Officers were confident it was the same bear, based on its size and colour, and put it down, conservation officer Murray Smith said.

He said the bear had lost its fear of humans and couldn't be safely relocated.

Officers confirmed the dental pattern matched with one collected the day before. The paw size was also similar to marks left at the picnic site.

"Conservation officers are quite sure that we've got the right bear," Smith said.

The B.C. Conservation Officer Service said the adult black bear that swiped at picknickers in Burnaby, B.C., on June 24 was behaving in an unusual way. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

RCMP and conservation officers had been searching for the bear since Monday afternoon, closing recreational trails in the area and setting a live bear trap.

The medium-sized bear approached two people picnicking at a park near Simon Fraser University at about 1 p.m. PT. 

The bear started to rummage through their backpacks. When the pair tried to scare off the bear, it charged them and swatted the woman's calf, leaving her with a scratch.

The bear then left the area. Smith said the couple did nothing wrong.

"They did not expect a bear in this area with multiple people in the middle of daytime."

Bear complaints on the rise

The conservation service has received 114 reports of a black bear in the area since April.

The bear was likely living off garbage in the neighbourhood and developed serious behavioural issues, Smith said.

The number of bear complaints in the Lower Mainland is on the rise.

B.C. has one of the highest black bear populations in the world. Their numbers range between 120,000 and 150,000 in the province. (Tyson Koschik/CBC file photo)

The service has received 2,200 complaints in the region since April. Half of them were garbage related.

In 2018, the service received 4,500 complaints. Smith said they will likely reach 6,000 complaints by the end of 2019.

He warned residents to secure their garbage, pick their fruits during the summer and to only use bird seed in the winter, when bears are hibernating.

"I think it's easy to blame the conservation officers for having to euthanize the bear. But at the end of the day, we didn't cause the bear to exhibit these behaviours," he said.

With files from Andrea Ross

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