Not one bear has been sighted by the Adams Lake Indian Band in almost a week, prompting conservation officers and the band’s chief to proclaim a bear threat is at an end.
Now chief Nelson Leon is looking at what can be done to prevent a similar insurgence of bruins next fall.
“I think the population (of bears) has been reduced. The food is gone and it’s getting to the time of year when they have to head to the mountains,” Leon said Wednesday.
“If we can go without incident for another two or three weeks, we’ll be in the clear.”
Conservation officers removed five bears from the community near Chase last week, relocating the animals a couple of hours north. A sixth bear that behaved in an aggressive manner, and was believed to have fed on garbage, was destroyed.
Darcy MacPhee, an acting inspector for the conservation service, said a final trap was removed from the reserve on Friday night. As far as COs are concerned, the threat is over.
“It’s been plenty quiet,” said MacPhee.
A dozen bears had made themselves at home in the community for the last three weeks, feeding on apples and garbage. Leon said the animals had too many interactions with people.
A couple of times the bears behaved in an aggressive manner. Leon said the band feared it was only a matter of time before one of the encounters ended badly.
“The bears were getting very, very comfortable,” he said.
Looking to next year, Leon said every effort will be made to make the community more bear aware. That includes picking the crop of apples from numerous trees and removing fallen fruit from the ground.
But there is only so much that can be done, he said. In the end, his people try to maintain a balance between respecting the bear — a sacred symbol for the band — and community safety.