In the early hours of Monday morning, conservation officers responded to a call about a hungry grizzly bear. The grizzly was at a residence in the Jimsmith Lake area and had broken into a chicken coop to eat chickens.
Conservation officer Ray Gilewicz said that while there weren’t any reports on bear, it had to be put down. He noted the bear showed up just outside the city boundary in a fairly rural area with acreages and such, and the landowner had chicken coups.
“At 2 a.m. in the morning, the landowner reported to CO services that this bear was on site,” Gilewicz said. “We attended and the bear was on site as reported. It was a young — probably a three year old — grizzly male, and it was eating the chickens basically in her yard.”
He said there was a safety concern with the bears presence in the human populated area.
“The decision was made that this bear was going to be put down and it was,” Gilewicz said.
It was Elisabeth Vanderkooy who called the grizzly in.
Vanderkooy was awoken by her dogs in the middle of the night. She could hear the chickens making noise.
“I went out outside thinking it was a skunk in the chicken pen,” she said. “Then I saw the bear on top of the [chicken] house.”
Vanderkooy saw the bear break into the pen, grab a chicken and begin to eat it.
“Then he ran into the the bushes, and came back and I called the CO,” she said.
The bear ate four of Vanderkooy’s 12 chickens.
She even blew an air horn a few time, which didn’t faze the bear at all.
“From then I knew I had a problem,” she said.
She said it was a sad situation all around.
“You don’t like it to happen, but sometimes there are no choices in life,” she said.
She’s accustomed to dealing with bears around her residence and dealt with a black bear last year which she managed to scare away.
“You get used to it up here,” she said. “It’s part of living in the bush.”
Vanderkooy said she is also not worried about keeping chickens.
Gilewicz said there is a lot of bear activity at moment. The bears are looking for natural food sources, like chokecherries and apples.
“Once they start tearing open chicken coups next to residences, it just shows a further progression by this bear into human food sources and habituated to human-related properties,” he said. “If they’re out skirting around people’s properties and just staying on the vegetation, then we can try hazing and those sorts of things, but once they’ve showed that desire to go beyond that and start taking livestock and destroying property and not showing any fear towards humans, it’s of more concern to us and to public safety.”
Gilewicz said each situation is unique and there have been quite a few sightings of bears recently.
He said landowners can do hazing and can remove attractants to help lower the risk of bears coming around.
Wildsafe reported that nine bears had been killed in Fernie, Elko, Sparwood and Elkford.