Wildlife group files complaint against B.C. conservation service for bear death

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An unrelated bear (Photo @_bccos/Twitter)

VANCOUVER – The death of a female black bear that fell from a tree after being darted with a tranquilizer has prompted a wildlife group to file a complaint with the British Columbia Conservation Officer Service.

A spokeswoman for the animal advocacy group The Fur-Bearers says an officer from the service responded to a complaint that a bear and her three cubs were eating berries in a residential area in Whistler.

When the officer arrived, the group’s Lesley Fox says the sow was in the tree and when tranquilized the mother fell to her death.

Fox says the group wants a new policy that requires all conservation officers who use tranquilizers to also use some form of netting or protection for animals that they dart in trees.

A statement from the Ministry of Environment confirms that the bear died when it fell from the tree, adding that its officers aren’t always able to control the movement of animals while they are being sedated.

The ministry says the Conservation Officer Service makes decisions in the field based on risk to the public.

“If large carnivores have not had the opportunity to become habituated to people they may be candidates for non-lethal management, such as capture and release, if it is safe to do so,” it says.

The ministry says the province will continue to focus on preventing human-wildlife conflicts by reducing bear attractants, through public education and community involvement.

Fox says it is irresponsible to have equipment to tranquilize or immobilize an animal but not have any safety equipment to prevent injury or death.

She says it’s unclear what happen to the sow’s three cubs.