A local hunter came upon a gruesome scene last week when he found a mother black bear and her two cubs shot dead near Olalla.
“The one cub was hanging on to the mom,” AJ Huber of Keremeos said. “I was pretty upset about it. I just don’t understand why someone would do that.”
Huber found the bears on Ollala Creek Road in the morning of September 28. He was out with a friend from out of town grouse hunting.
He figured the bears had been there for a few days by the smell and that rigor mortis had set in.
“They were two little cubs not much bigger than a dog,” he said.
He immediately called conservation officers who attended the grisly scene later that day.
Jeff Hanratty, conservation officer in Penticton and surrounding areas attended the scene. At this point few details are known about the deaths of the bears.
Initial thoughts were that the bears were shot somewhere else and moved, but that might not be the case.
“Until we get someone to phone us and help put the puzzle pieces together we’re left with a mystery right now,” he said. “At this point we’re really requesting the public’s assistance to identify the shooter and for the shooter to tell us what happened. It’s possible they were shot in self defence or in defence of property but we really can’t guess what happened at this point.”
There is no hunting season on bear cubs or bears in the company of cubs.
Under the Wildlife Act, anyone that shoots an animal in self defence must report it to authorities.
Over the last several weeks several calls were logged into the conservation office about the mother and her cubs wandering around Olalla and getting into garbage.
But to his knowledge no action was planned to deal with what he described as “nuisance bear behaviour.”
“They were getting into garbage and going after unpicked fruit. They weren’t behaving in threatening or aggressive manners that I know of,” he said.
Although the Review has heard from a few Olalla residents that conservation was working on finding a place to set a trap to catch the bears and relocate them, Hanratty said he knew nothing of that plan.
“I’m not the only officer responsible. I’m not aware of any plans to put traps in the area,” he said.
Hanratty said conservation was monitoring calls and would have acted if behaviour changed.
He encouraged residents that live in areas known to have bears come through to put garbage out overnight in bear safe containers only, pick all fruit off trees, and do not leave food or food scraps outside where a bear might smell it.
“It’s been a hot dry summer. The traditional bear foods are dried up and have died. They want to get their calories on before they den up,” he said. “We need to be responsible and not attract them in the first place.”
Recently conservation officers have started ticketing residents who do not put their garbage out overnight in a bear proof container.
Tickets for leaving out garbage and attracting dangerous wildlife are $230.
For anyone with information about this incident or any others involving wildlife call the poachers and polluters line at 1-877-952-7277.