This black bear is semi-conscious after being shot with a tranquilizer dart on Vernon Street in Nelson on Sept. 16. Photo: Gerald Vaughan-Irving

This black bear is semi-conscious after being shot with a tranquilizer dart on Vernon Street in Nelson on Sept. 16. Photo: Gerald Vaughan-Irving

Bear euthanized after downtown Nelson encounter

Conservation officers say it’s the 12th bear death in Nelson this year

Conservation officers shot a tranquilizer dart into a bear in a tree on Vernon Street in downtown Nelson Friday morning.

When the bear fell from the tree, it was trucked away and euthanized – the 12th bear to meet this fate in Nelson this year.

Conservation officer Nathan Smienk told the Nelson Star the bear was well-known in a several-block radius for getting into garbage. The previous night a bear destroyed a residential garage door, and Smienk thinks it is the same bear.

“Not just a shed, but a garage door,” Smienk said. “It ripped half the door off.”

Smienk said he euthanizes bears if they have been aggressive toward humans or if they have caused property damage.

He first became aware of this bear when he got a call about a bear up a tree on the centre boulevard across from Empire Coffee.

Given the downtown location and the number of onlookers, he said, “the safest and quietest thing to do was to dart it.”

After the dart was shot, the bear spent a few more minutes in the tree then fell to the ground, appearing to be semi-conscious. Conservation officers and police then loaded it onto a truck.

Smienk says euthanizing bears is necessary for public safety but he wants to stop doing it.

“People really need to step up and do their part (by managing garbage, fruit trees, and compost) so you don’t have these conflicts,” he said.

Conservation officers never re-locate bears that are already fully habituated to garbage and other urban attractants, Smienk said, because if they don’t come back to the same town they will go to another one.

“Relocating them is taking a learned behaviour and moving it somewhere else,” he said.

READ MORE: Six bears euthanized in Castlegar this year



bill.metcalfe@nelsonstar.com

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