Metchosin mayor calls for problem bear to be euthanized
VICTORIA -- For a few years now, Metchosin sheep farmers have been dealing with a problem bear. It’s been feeding on their livestock and now the mayor of the municipality says he has had enough.
Metchosin Mayor John Ranns told CTV News that he is concerned for the safety of not only the sheep, but for the members of his community as well. He’s now calling on the B.C. Conservation Officer Service to destroy the bear, before someone gets hurt.
A video was recorded by Metchosin resident Gary Schroyen last week that shows the problem bear eating the carcass of a sheep on a Metchosin farm. The video has Ranns fed up.
“He was killing a sheep a day,” he said.
Ranns says the killings have slowed down because it’s berry season. But, once those berries are gone, the mayor fears that bear will be on the hunt for meat once again.
“My concern is two-fold,” said Ranns. “Number one, we’re very much afraid given all the extra amount of people and kids and everybody who is out using our trails, that this is a threat beyond just eating sheep.”
“I think this bear could easily cross over and start attacking people,” he said.
One local conservation officer disagrees.
“In terms of bears and making the jump to humans, anything is possible, but I don’t think it’s likely,” said Scott Norris, a sergeant with the BC Conservation Officer Service.
“Just because a bear has killed a sheep it doesn’t mean it’s going to attack people,” he said.
Ranns says he is also concerned about another troubling trend that has emerged in the community because of the bear attacks.
“We’re also getting a lot of requests from the local residents that want to take the matter into their own hands,” he said. “Bow hunters and people like that.”
“The last thing we need is a bear wandering around with an arrow sticking out of his side,” said Ranns.
The conservation service says that having residents hunt the bear is not the answer. Instead, Norris is trying to educate farmers on best management practices, over vigilante justice.
“Those best management practices include having guardian dogs or guardian animals, having electric fencing or locking your animals up at night,” he said.
John Buchanan owns Parry Bay Sheep Farm in Metchosin. He has nearly 900 sheep spread throughout several different farms in the region and says that the conservation service's advice is just not feasible for him.
Instead, he has a different idea.
“We could possibly own our own trap and we could get (the conservation service’s) guidance on how to and when to use it and set it up ourselves,” said Buchanan. “Then the conservation officers wouldn’t have to come out as often.”
Ranns wants the conservation service to use a different tool to solve this problematic bear issue.
“There’s only one sure way of getting a bear like this and that is with the use of dogs,” he said. “If you can get the dogs out when the scent is still there, you’ve got about a 90 per cent chance of getting the bear and that’s what has to happen in this case.”
Norris says that conservation officers have chased bears in the past by using dogs, but it has not always been successful. He says the scent disappears, especially in the summer months.
The mayor believes, however, that there have been opportunities to track the bear over the past month but says the conservation service has yet to try the approach.
All that being said, the B.C. Conservation Officer Service says that once this problem bear is tracked down, it will be destroyed because it has killed livestock and has caused property damage.