If you're a hungry black bear in B.C., there are lots of places you should not look for food if you want to stay out of trouble.
For more than a hundred of them, frequenting five Interior cities meant their execution at the hands of the B.C. Conservation Officer Service (BCCOS).
The Fur-Bearers, a nonprofit charitable organization that has been advocating for and protecting fur-bearing animals since 1953, published a list of the five worst B.C. cities for bear-killing in a July 4 release.
The information came from the provincial government after an FOI request from The Fur-Bearers, which compiled the information.
The five cities (with the number of black bears killed shown in parentheses) are Prince George (36), 100 Mile House (22), Quesnel (19), Burns Lake (17), and Vernon (16).
“Black bears are killed by the hundreds by government agents in British Columbia, frequently for being near humans or accessing human foods that were left accessible,” Aaron Hofman, The Fur-Bearers' director of advocacy and policy said in the release. “It is important that communities where these bears are killed with extreme frequency are identified and addressed so underlying, systemic causes for negative encounters can be ended.
"Our deadliest-communities list was created to try and put into perspective what many residents have decried," Hofman continued. "Too many bears are dying, and not enough is being done about it.”
The Fur-Bearers said that the five cities represent only about 20 percent of the black bears killed in B.C. last year by conservation officers. Between 2015 and 2021, it said, the BCCOS killed 3,779 black bears. (The full list of the killings, and other black-bear resources and information, is available here.)
“Every community on this list can be concerned about the ongoing trend of bears killed by conservation officers,” Hofman said. “It points to something being out of balance in the ecosystem, or a significant need for education and the implementation and enforcement of by-laws at the local level, as well as provincial enforcement.”
The Fur-Bearers is urging residents of the five communities to contact their municipal politicians and urge them to pass wildlife-attractant by-laws and to follow them up with education and by-law enforcement.
“If government agents and agencies are as distraught at the number of bears killed as they indicate in media, we certainly hope that they will use this list as an opportunity to speak to their superiors and key political figures behind making change happen,” Hofman said. in the release.