The recent unprecedented heatwave has prompted the BC Conservation Officer Services (COS) to pull bear traps out of the Lower Mainland.
In a statement to Tri-City News, the provincial agency has confirmed that traps have been removed out of concern for the safety of bears.
“In this unprecedented heatwave, the COS has pulled several traps in the Lower Mainland due to the extreme temperatures,” the agency stated.
“Although it is standard practice to ensure the culvert-style live traps are placed in shaded areas, checked frequently and nearby residents encouraged to call day or night if a bear enters, it could still take some time for officers to reach the area.”
The concern is that the extreme heat could put extra stress on the bears and “the decision was made to remove the traps for the time being.”
However, the COS is also reporting that bears are entering homes due to doors being left open during the heatwave.
The email did not state how many traps, if any, were removed from the Tri-Cities or when they would be put back.
However, the decision to remove live traps comes as some local residents raised concerns about the use of them to capture black bears.
In a post on social media, Gosia Bryja wrote: “Just pause and imagine; a bear is caught in the trap in these temperatures. Even two minutes might be too long for a bear to endure. Wouldn’t it be for your pet?”
She wondered whether hot bears in traps were as bad as a dog being kept inside a crate strapped to the back of an RV headed to B.C.’s Interior last weekend.
(The dog has been found safe, while police consider what charges the driver could face.)
“And yet, it seems fine to let black bears suffer. Let’s push for changes in policies that will make these cruel acts no longer permissible.”
She urges people to write to government officials to ban bear traps in high temperatures.
In deciding to remove the traps for now, the COS told Tri-City News it "understands people are passionate about the well-being of wildlife. Our agency takes the safety and welfare of bears in the field very seriously.”
The statement notes that conservation officers are trained in the proper handling and care of animals, which includes guidance from the provincial veterinarian.
“Public safety remains our priority and conservation officers are continuing to monitor bear activity.”
Meanwhile, BCCOS notes on Twitter that it has had three reports of bears entering residences in recent days.
Residents are still encouraged to report any conflicts to the Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) line at 1-877-952-7277.
In the last 24hrs @BCCOS have responded to 3 reports of bears entering residences in the Lower Mainland. It may be challenging during a heat wave, but securing or monitoring access to your house is essential in bear country. For more info visit @wildsafebc #HEATWAVE #staycool pic.twitter.com/vlWQSjs9mb— BC CO Service (@_BCCOS) June 27, 2021