The shooting of a black bear in Surrey by conservation officers has people riled.
But from the officers’ perspective, it had to be killed.
Inspector Murray Smith, of the B.C. Conservation Officer Service, said the “sub-adult” bear had been wandering around in Guildford and Tynehead for about four days, passing through the school grounds at Harold Bishop Elementary school and Fraser Heights Secondary School.
“There was kids in the school at the time, and the principal had to hold the kids in the school,” he said. “It killed chickens. It got into the Toyota dealer’s commercial garbage. Everything got worse and worse and worse.”
The conservation service received 21 reports of the bear and set traps as it started moving toward Guildford Town Centre, making its way through backyards.
Surrey Mounties spotted it and put their sirens on. “The bear just kind of looked at them, it didn’t run away. And then the bear mosied right into a group of people, and scattered them, so the thing is the bear had lost its fear of people.”
“It’s really unfortunate,” he said, of having to put the bear down. “None of the officers get into this to destroy wildlife.
“Public safety is our priority.”
The bear was shot Monday night at a ravine near 160th Street and 104th Avenue, Smith said.
Holly Dampier-Piwowarski told the Now-Leader she was “not impressed at all.”
“Where is the respect for our animal kingdom?”
She said the “harmless” bear was “right behind my house” and “didn’t harm my family at all.
“Maybe our conservation officers could have taken the time to put the bear to sleep and move it to a location.”
Smith said this was the first confirmed bear sighting in Surrey since 2013. He said it’s believed this particular bear swam across the Fraser River from Coquitlam or Port Coquitlam, where there are on average 2,000 bear sightings reported each year.