The Conservation Officer Service (COS) has put down an “aggressive” black bear that officials say lunged at a group of picnickers on Burnaby Mountain on Monday afternoon.
The COS was called to the area around Horizons Restaurant around 1 p.m. Monday, after the bear approached a group having a picnic, then took a swipe at a woman when she tried to scare it away.
Conservation officer Kent Popjes said the bear made contact with the woman, leaving her with “superficial injuries.”
Officers and the RCMP searched the mountain’s trails until about 7 p.m., and were back around 5 a.m. on Tuesday with bear traps filled with raw meat and bananas, hoping to lure the animal.
Crews moved one trap to a residential area about 900 metres from the restaurant, which the COS said was effective in drawing the bear to the area.
When a neighbour called it in, officers arrived to find the bear digging through garbage, said the COS.
Officers then shot the bear, and confirm the large, adult male animal matches photos taken on Monday.
The COS believes the bear had been eating garbage in the area for weeks, and said it had received as many as 100 recent calls about the animal.
Earlier Tuesday, Popjes told media it is always difficult when COs are called on to destroy an animal, but said sometimes it can’t be avoided.
“It’s unfortunate. Any bear that’s put down is too many for anybody,” he said.
“But, obviously, we do have a lot of challenges here with attractants and, with the food conditioning that we do see with our bears, we don’t have any options sometimes with the level of public risk.”
The COS said it gets an average of 800 bear calls in the Burnaby area every year, and that COs have had to put down an estimated 15 bears in the Lower Mainland so far in 2019.
Popjes said when officers do destroy an animal, it is because they have become aggressive or habituated to human food.
He said people concerned about bears’ welfare can do their part by ensuring garbage and any other possible attractants are well secured, and not left where they will draw animals.