Charges are pending against a Lower Mainland resident accused of feeding dangerous wildlife — bears and coyotes — in West Vancouver.
The B.C. Conservation Officer Service (COS) said it intercepted a person last Friday who had allegedly spent months feeding animals in a popular trail network in West Vancouver. It collected enough evidence at the scene, it added, to recommend charges to the Crown.
“The important message for us right now is to tell the public this is illegal,” said Sgt. Simon Gravel, officer for the Sea to Sky zone, on Tuesday. “Under the Wildlife Act you can be fined up to $100,000. It is extremely dangerous to feed dangerous wildlife.”
There is no risk to the public using the trails, he added, as all food remains have been removed. He was unable to reveal the precise location as the investigation is in its early stages.
The COS said feeding wildlife puts the public and the animal at risk. Wildlife that is regularly fed and habituated to humans may eventually pose a safety risk and be killed.
The stark warning comes a little more than a week after a Port Moody, B.C. resident was charged for attracting dangerous wildlife and issued a $230-fine. The COS investigation determined the resident was leaving out tuna, hot dogs and pet food on their property.
“It happens too often,” said Gravel. “We understand people want to care for wildlife, but feeding wildlife compromises both public safety and the welfare of the animal.”
On Tuesday, B.C. Environment Minister George Heyman said the province strives to educate and deter people from feeding wildlife before proceeding with court action.
“Nobody feeds an animal because they want to see it destroyed but that is the end result of their action,” he explained.
“We’ve engaged in public education, we responded to people who call the RAPP line — the report a poacher and polluter line — about these incidents. Conservation officers are working hard to put an end to this.”
Last October, a Whistler woman was fined $60,000 for feeding bears in what the B.C. Conservation Officer Service called a “potentially precedent-setting case.” The fines, related to incidents in 2018, remain the highest overall penalty imposed under the B.C. Wildlife Act.
The Wildlife Act states that a person must not intentionally feed or attempt to feed wildlife, or leave an attractant on land with intent to attract wildlife. Fines can be issued for each day the offence continues.
The RAPP line can be reached at 1-877-952-7277.