Two days after a momma bear and her cubs were shot and killed in Summerland, neighbours are still fuming.
They say this is just another case of conservation officers choosing to destroy, rather than relocate, neighbourhood wildlife.
Locals, Claudette Murti and Tena Beattie, had seen the bear and her two cubs around the neighbourhood and both knew the bears' fate when they heard the fatal gunshot sounds on Monday. They are both disgusted the bears were not given the chance to relocate.
“I heard the gun shots and it was just so loud I jumped out of my skin. I was hoping that they were tranquilized, but later found out they were indeed killed and I was really heartbroken by it,” said Murti.
“They are living beings, they have as much right to be on this planet as we do, their creator is our creator.”
“I heard two gun shots, and I have never heard a gun shot before it was so loud, so I ran outside and we realized what it was,” explained Beattie. “It is very sad, because that bear and her cubs have been in this neighbourhood for a long time and she has never disturbed anybody.”
Conservation officer Barb Leslie says the bears' general health factored into the conservation department’s decision to put them down, as did the fact the animals continually seek out easy food sources regardless of any proximity to humans.
The explanation doesn't cut it with the locals.
“They said they made a decision that they needed to be put down because of their ill health, but is he a veterinarian? How can you really tell by looking? Especially because my neighbours saw them playing in their backyard the day before, and climbing up and down trees, would a sick bear really be doing that?” questioned Murti.
Murti's husband Vince Murti shared the same sentiment on what he calls a gutless shooting.
“The point is, who are you to decide? Why can we not, as human beings, let Mother Nature take its course. If that is supposed to happen in the wilderness then let it happen. What gives you the right to pick up a gun? Just because you have the authority and power to do so you decide I am god and I am doing this and that is what really really pisses me off and that is not right,” argued Vince Murti.
“They should have been darted and relocated. I heard they cannot be relocated because of other bear territories, and they don’t want to place them in danger in another bear territory. But instead they decided to play god and kill them themselves rather than letting them duke it out in the wild and giving them a fair chance,” added Claudette Murti.
“They could have relocated them. They said they were not healthy, but they were fine,” said Beattie.
Conservation says the bears had made the area home because of the ample supply of garbage and these bears were specifically caught pulling garbage out of a pickup truck in a lot rented by Rob Earle.
“A customer's pick-up was out in the yard and I hadn't had a chance to work on it and the bears came down and opened the canopy and got in and took the garbage out that was in there. I guess some other people had been leaving their garbage around as well,” said Earle.
He says he understands conservation had to do what they did for the safety of the neighbourhood.
“I think you have to at that point, they are basically a predatory animal right now and the fact they are going into a car like that they can get into balconies and shops and do whatever they want,” said Earle.
Conservation officers are pleading with the public again to be more vigilant about cleaning up after themselves and preventing issues like this from occurring.