Residents question 'senseless' killing of bear spotted in Scarborough

A wildlife control expert says a bear that was shot and killed by Toronto police in Scarborough may have wandered into a suburban area this weekend because it was looking for food, it was curious or it was disoriented.

Bear in Scarborough may have been looking for food, curious, or disoriented, expert says

A photo of a bear. A wildlife control expert says a bear may have wandered into Scarborough on the weekend because it was seeking food, it was curious or it was disoriented. (CBC News)

While some residents are questioning why a bear was shot and killed by Toronto police early Saturday, a wildlife control expert says the animal may have wandered into Scarborough because it was looking for food, curious, or disoriented.

Bill Dowd, president and CEO of Ontario-based Skedaddle Humane Wildlife Control, said there could be any number of reasons for the appearance of a bear in northeastern Toronto. He said the reason may also not be obvious.

But he said a lack of food sources could prompt animals, including bears, to enter a residential neighbourhood and rummage through garbage cans.

"With any animal, they are constantly looking for food, foraging for food," Dowd said Saturday. "Sometimes, young ones will get disorientated and wander into strange areas."

Police tracked the bear for nearly four hours, tried unsuccessfully to obtain the help of Ontario natural resources ministry officers to deal with the bear, and finally deployed Emergency Task Force officers.

"In the interests of public safety, officers from the Emergency Task Force had to shoot the bear... that was the option that was available to us," Const. Allyson Douglas-Cook previously told CBC Toronto.

Angry residents tweeting, calling 42 Division

Even so, people took to social media to express their anger at the bear's death, with some questioning why killing the bear was necessary.

Acting Staff Sgt. Richard Shaw, of Toronto Police Service's 42 Division, also said the division has been getting angry calls from the public.

"Yes, we are getting a lot of calls from people," he said. "Ultimately, police had no option."

Case is reminder to animal proof homes

Dowd said it was unfortunate that police were unable to secure the help of conservation officers who could have tranquillized the animal, then moved it outside of city limits. 

"Obviously, the decision was made, unfortunately," he said.

Dowd said the case serves as a reminder to homeowners to "animal proof" their homes. That means sheds and decks should be inaccessible to animals, and chimneys and vents on roofs should be screened.

"Nowadays, our city environments are inundated with wildlife, not only bears, but coyotes, foxes, and of course, the standard staples of raccoons, squirrels and skunks. As our cities continue to grow, there's going to be more and more of these conflicts with urban animals," he said.

"Homeowners should be diligent in terms of animal proofing their homes. We need to somehow find a way to coexist."

With files from Lauren Pelley