Nelson’s conservation officer had to shoot and kill two juvenile grizzlies seen around Nelson this spring after the animals found easy pickings in people’s garbage.
Jason Hawkes, conservation officer for the Nelson area, confirmed the two bears were shot last week – Thursday, May 26.
Both bears, part of a family of four that frequented Nelson last year, were getting into garbage instead of eating grass and glacier lilies at higher elevations.
“They broke into one tin shed on Granite Road, but that wasn’t much of a concern,” says Hawkes. “They hit one garage on Perrier Road and then bluff charged an individual to protect the food.”
It was that aggressive behaviour, coupled with the fact the bears had been captured and released last year, that led to the decision to shoot the animals.
Hawkes set a culvert trap on the night of the 25th and found one grizzly in the trap the next day, it’s sibling nearby.
Both animals were shot.
The bears were already given one chance to return to the wild, says Hawkes. The bears, another sibling and their mother were trapped in the Nelson area in 2010 and released near Erie Creek. One sibling was shot and killed near Creston last year. The mother was ear-tagged and given a radio collar, but the she’s slipped the collar and conservation officers don’t know where she is.
Reports of grizzlies in the Nelson area started in May. A jogger was bluff charged on a trail south of town and the reports started coming in. A man on Knox Road videoed the juveniles and another resident took a series of photos of the bears. He shared the impressive photos with the Nelson Post in the hopes people would see the beauty in the animals and take greater care with their garbage.
It didn’t work.
Hawkes had hoped the two young grizzly bears would stay above town and then move higher as the snow receded and their natural food, grass and glacier lilies, came into season.
The cool spring may have delayed the bears’ move to the high country, but Hawkes is adamant there was too much garbage left where the bears could get it.
“The thing that affected their survivability is the amount of garbage available to them,” says Hawkes. “We really need to work on our attractants in our community.”
For information on how to best protect your garbage and bears, see Bear Aware’s attractant management webpage.
If you have a problem with wildlife, call the Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) line at 1 (877) 952-7277 or visit their website.