File photo courtesy of WildSafeBC/J. Couperus

People throwing food at a bear in Fernie alarms conservation groups

Wildlife conservation groups in the Elk Valley are encouraging individuals to be smarter while enjoying the outdoors, following a report of people throwing food at a bear over the weekend.

An individual in Mount Fernie Provincial Park reportedly tried to intervene but was told by the group to mind his own business. He then contacted conservation officers through the RAPP line, who attended the scene but found no trace of the animal. It was believed to be a two-year-old black bear.

WildSafeBC reminded residents in a release that it is an offence to feed wildlife in B.C.

“Bottom line is, it’s unbelievable in this day and age that people are going up to bears, approaching and throwing food at it; it’s just ridiculous,” said WildSafeBC Community Coordinator, Kathy Murray.

“Approaching and feeding bears contributes to habituation, they lose the fear of people, no longer behave like wild bears and often end up in conflict with people,” she further explained in a release.

Look back: Notices, warnings issued after bear destroyed in Fernie

Mt. Fernie Provincial Park campground was sold out over the weekend, and two groups of campers were evicted for leaving food out.

Anyone who witnesses something like this in a park is encouraged to contact park staff immediately, and call the Conservation Officer Hotline on 1-877-952-7277.

WildSafeBC and the Conservation Officer Service will be conducting a wildlife hazard assessment in Fernie on June 25 between 1 and 4 p.m.

“We will be visiting areas with high wildlife activity to determine who and what is attracting wildlife into neighbourhoods,” said Murray.

”In other words, we will be looking for unsecured garbage, birdfeeders and anything else that is baiting wildlife into the community.”

Murray explained that education will be provided and there will be follow up and/or enforcement if required. She further explained that it is everyone’s responsibility in B.C. to prevent attracting dangerous wildlife to their property (BC Wildlife Act, Section 33.1).

“Thank you to everyone who is complying with local bylaws and the BC Wildlife Act. Please encourage your family, friends and neighbours to do the same. The end result will be a cleaner and safer community for your children, pets and our wildlife,” she said.

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