77 bear cubs killed in B.C in 2021, says animal rights group's complaint to province

According to documents obtained through a freedom of information request by the Fur-Bearers, a wildlife charity group, 77 bear cubs were killed in 2021 in B.C.

The group said the documents indicate that many of the killings were not out of necessity, meaning they were not related to public safety and the cubs were not properly assessed.

"It's certainly concerning anytime an animal is killed whether that number is one or 77. I think it requires a second look. We need to have a plan on how we respond to young bears," said the organization's executive director Lesley Fox.

The group filed a formal complaint against the B.C. Conservation Officer Service, calling on the province to fix what it calls "a broken system."

"They really need to come up with a plan when we find young bears in the field, to have a system that properly evaluates them, and gets them into care should they need it or potentially be evaluated by an expert who is appropriately trained," Fox said.

Marc Plamondon of the Conservation Officer Service told CTV News that it's working on non-lethal alternatives and that euthanizing bears is not its first choice.

"We definitely do not enjoy that. And we do everything we can, such as these proactive media releases, to try and get these people to remove the attractants and prevent that from happening in the first place," he said.

He also said the agency is currently testing out what it calls a "bear-hazing approach" in some parts of the Lower Mainland, where officers use bright lights, loud sounds, bean bags and paintball guns to scare the bears off.

With more bear sightings being reported in Metro Vancouver, officials urge residents to take extra precautions to protect both themselves and wildlife.

"They are going to go after those easy food sources that are available to them, such as garbage and bird feeders, barbecue grease traps, pet food that's laying outside," said Plamondon.

He urges everyone to keep all food inside and out of reach for the bears who have woken up from hibernation.