Conservation officers in Terrace had to destroy a bear in a fruit tree at a Park Ave. residence. BC Conservation Officers Service photo

Pick your fruit or cut the fruit tree down!

Conservation officers shoot bear up tree eating apples

A fruit tree full of apples led to a black bear’s death when conservation officers had no choice but to shoot the animal at a residence recently.

“We just had to shoot another bear in an apple tree,” said Sgt. Tracy Walbauer of the BC Conservation Officers Service Sept. 11.

“People have got to start picking their fruit or cut the tree down if they’re not planning on using the fruit.”

There is a hefty fine of $575 under the Wildlife Act for attracting dangerous wildlife, he added.

Conservation officers had to destroy the bear because the animal had no fear of humans, he said.

And it’s not the animal’s fault, it’s people’s fault because the bear is just being a bear, said Walbauer.

It was a healthy sub-adult, and Walbauer didn’t ask the officers on the scene if it was male or female but says 99 per cent of the time what they deal with are males.

“It had been there for a couple days and people tried to chase it away and it just wouldn’t go,” said Walbauer, adding the officers had received other complaints in the area about it eating garbage and apples and all kinds of stuff.

And it’s not as easy just relocating the bear, he said.

“Relocation in our experience does not work. They will return to the same offending behaviour and it puts the public at risk,” he said.

And reports have come in about a Kermode at the top of Kalum Hill, and if it gets habituated to eating garbage and fruit and loses its natural fear of humans, it would have to be put down as well, even though Kermodes are rare, said Walbauer.

“They (bears) should be scared of people right. The big thing is when they start to feed on natural food and see people, they associate the two and soon they would associate people as food or just don’t get scared,” he said.

“That’s why we cannot take the risk to relocate severely habituated bears.”

Bears can become aggressive if a person gets into their personal space and if you do and they don’t show aggressive behaviour, they are habituated or have lost their fear, he added.

It is the first time conservation officers had been to this property so the resident was directed to remove the apples and wasn’t fined, he added.

“What I tell people too and it didn’t happen in this situation: if you’re not picking the apples, you shouldn’t have an apple tree. If somebody wants to pick them, or if you can find someone who wants them, let them pick the apples. If you continually have apples falling on the ground and rotting on the ground, you don’t need an apple tree,” said Walbauer.