B.C.'s 5 deadliest communities for black bears
More black bears were killed by conservation officers in the Prince George area than any other community in British Columbia, according to 2021 statistics compiled by an animal rights group.
The statistics was compiled by the Fur-Bearers, an organization that describes itself as a charity that seeks to "promote solutions for wildlife coexistence in communities." The group got the data by submitting a freedom of information request.
Last year, 36 black bears were killed in and around Prince George, it found. 100 Mile House saw 22 bears put down while in Quesnel there were 19. In Burns Lake there were 17 and in Vernon there were 16.
Those five communities accounted for nearly 20 per cent of all black bear deaths across the province, according to the charity.
“It’s pretty sad,’ said Aaron Hofman, Director of Advocacy and Policy. “Ultimately, each number is an animal that was killed and didn’t live out its entire life.”
The group acknowledged it doesn’t know why these areas stand out.
Prince George, for example, mandates when residents can take their garbage to the curb for pick-up in order to reduce encounters with bears.
“But the big question still remains: Why? Is that enough? Is there enough enforcement of these by-laws? Is there enough education for the community?,” Hofman asked.
The province, in a statement, said the Conservation Officer Service is designed to reduce wildlife conflicts and pointed to a 20 per cent reduction in encounters in the 10 communities that are part of its voluntary Bear Smart program.
None of the areas on The Fur-Bearers list are currently part of that program.
The animal charity has now written a letter to B.C.’s Auditor General, asking for an audit of the Conservation Officer Service. It wants to know how much money the service is spending and why so many bears are killed every year.
The government insisted it is already “financially transparent through the legislative budget and estimates process,” but added, should an audit proceed, it would cooperate fully.