Authorities are seeking the public’s help following the recent shooting of a black bear in a Keremeos vineyard.
According to Conservation Officer (CO) Clayton DeBruin, the sow is believed to have been shot between the evening of Sept. 30 and the morning of Oct. 1. He could not confirm whether the bear was shot in the vineyard, located on the 700 block of Bypass Road in Keremeos, or shot in another location and dumped there as the investigation is ongoing.
“She was a black bear, a light-coloured phased one, that was known to us and known to the community for many months since living in this area. She was shot and killed and basically left to waste,” said DeBruin. “She had two cubs this year and they’re roughly seven or eight months old now.”
DeBruin said there is “no open season for mother bears or a bear in its company, or bears under 2 years of age” and with the sow’s death, the likelihood of the cubs surviving the winter on their own is greatly reduced. This would equal a charge of hunting wildlife out of season.
“Bear cubs normally spend about 18 months with mom, so the likelihood of their survival is not as good as if they’d have their mom to show them where to find food throughout the seasons of the year and how to choose an appropriate den site through the winter,” said DeBruin. “They may survive but it’s obviously not ideal.”
DeBruin said he couldn’t speak to whether the sow was causing problems in the community such as rummaging through garbage, but did note that the cubs are not dependent on human food or waste in terms of diet. He said conservation officers in the area are currently trying to trap the cubs in order to relocate them to a rescue facility for the winter, but so far have been unsuccessful.
“Because they are at-risk, ideally they could be caught and sent to an orphaned bear rearing facility where they would be held throughout the winter and fed to the appropriate weight, then released into the wild in the spring,” said DeBruin. “We have a rehab facility in the North Interior that is willing to take them. We are actively trying to trap them, however, because they are not food-conditioned or garbage-conditioned, they are much harder to capture in a trap than a bear that is used to walking into human habituated areas, seeking out smelly food. These are just normal bears, so we’re still waiting to capture them since they’ve been sighted in the area after the mother was brought to our attention.”
Because the authorities were not contacted in time, DeBruin said they were unable to salvage any of the meat from the mother bear, adding a charge of failure to retrieve game under the Wildlife Act. These offences are ticket-able, but he said depending on the circumstance, the B.C. Conservation Officer Service can take the individual to court to request a higher fine.
The B.C. Wildlife Federation offers up to a $2,000 reward for any information leading to the conviction of these types of offences. DeBruin said the best way to reach out is to call the Report All Poacher and Polluters line at 1-877-952-7277, and that individuals can choose to remain anonymous.
“We’re hopeful we will track down those responsible. The Bypass Road is a well-travelled road and it’s likely that somebody may have been travelling by at the time of the offence and may have seen something or noticed something out of place, like a vehicle or person,” said DeBruin. “Or maybe they noticed the mother bear lying in the vineyard and can give us additional information on that. Any little tip can help us.”
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