Bear shooting causes community uproar

A local conservation officer put down a black bear that had penetrated a residential neighbourhood in Courtenay on Saturday and almost immediately, the vitriol was being spewed on social media regarding the officer in charge.

We accept part of the blame, as there was information missing from the article; mainly why the bear was put down.

In our defence, at the time the Comox Valley Record went to print, our reporter was still trying to contact the officer in charge.

The bureaucracy involved in speaking to conservation officers is vastly more complicated than simply picking up a phone and calling them directly. All media requests must go through Victoria and such a request will not be addressed on a Saturday evening.

That said, residents can rest assured that the officer in charge took no pleasure in destroying a bear.

How do we know? Because of his title.

He is a conservation officer. His duty is to conserve.

We have had reports from witnesses who say this bear had been in and around neighbourhoods throughout the city for at least a month. It had become an urban bear.

Whether or not relocation had been done previously on this bear we still don’t know. What we do know is once a bear becomes urbanized, regardless of where it is relocated, it will seek another urban area.

It has discovered that hunting for food in a city is much easier than doing so in the wild.

And this is when conservation officers are forced with a task they do not enjoy – the killing of wildlife.

There are many reasons for doing so, but the most important issue is the safety of residents.

The bear knows no boundaries. That swing set next to the apple tree means nothing to him. That youngster swinging on the swing set probably means nothing to him either, but should that chance be taken?

We are not claiming that anyone’s life was in immediate danger from the presence of this bear on Saturday afternoon.

But one thing we do know: the letters and comments that will ensue due to this incident are far easier to endure than having to write, or read about, a tragic incident involving a bear attacking a human.