New Brunswick

Bear shot in downtown Moncton

A small black bear was shot in downtown Moncton Wednesday night by Department of Natural Resources officials, but some people are questioning whether the animal had to be killed.

DNR officials deemed it a safety hazard

A small black bear was shot in downtown Moncton Wednesday night by Department of Natural Resources officials.

The bear, which was about the size of a German Shepherd, was deemed to be a safety hazard to the residential neighbourhood, said spokeswoman Anne Bull.

But some area residents are questioning whether the animal needed to be killed.

Conservation officers arrived at 210 John St., about 10 p.m., where a small crowd of people had gathered behind the office building to watch the bear.

"At first it was just a bunch of flashlights going through the lot and they seemed to be focused on one area," said Susan Lirette, who lives nearby.

"Then we saw a police officer get his rifle out of the car; I guess his shotgun. And shortly after, there was a shot," she said.

Lirette thinks the bear may have posed a problem if it was agitated — but many people in the neighbourhood think killing the bear went too far.

'The first option is always to chase the bear back into the woods. But in this case, it was surrounded by highways, houses and buildings.'—Anne Bull, Department of Natural Resources

According to DNR operational procedures, when an animal poses no threat to human safety and is likely to get out of the situation if left alone, then "no action should be taken."

But "there are times when it may be necessary to destroy wildlife," the policy states.

The decision of what action to take is at the discretion of the DNR officer at the scene.

"The first option is always to chase the bear back into the woods," said Bull.

"But in this case, it was surrounded by highways, houses and buildings," she said. "And when bears are cornered, they tend to become vicious.

"It was determined to be a safety hazard and for public safety it was dispatched."

Fredericton and St. Stephen have also had bears wander into residential areas in recent weeks.

Conflicts between people and bears have increased as suburban sprawl encroaches into former bear habitat, said Bull.

The best way to avoid bear problems is not to attract them in the first place, she said.

Garbage or any other possible food source, such as pet food and bird feeders should be kept inside, or in a bear-proof container.

Food odours should also be kept to a minimum by washing garbage cans regularly using lime or baking soda, and keeping barbecue grills and picnic tables clean.

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