A Vancouver conservation group is sounding the alarm over the number of black bears that have been killed by B.C. conservation officers in 2021.

The North Shore Black Bear Society says it’s mourning the loss of a young male black bear who was tranquilized by conservation officers in Lynn Valley last Tuesday, and eventually put down.

The bear, nicknamed ‘Rufus,’ had been foraging for food in nearby garbage bins and on fruit trees.

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“A bear only needs to be eating berries in the back of someone’s property and they will be labelled as food-conditioned,” warned Luci Cadman, executive director of the North Shore Black Bear Society.

“He was deemed not a good candidate for relocation due to the fact that he was so comfortable in residential areas, very sadly.”

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To date, Cadman said nine black bears have been killed by conservation officers on the North Shore alone — a figure that’s likely to rise as the animals gorge themselves prior to hibernation, and seek easily-accessible food sources.

Click to play video: 'Close encounter with curious black bear in Prince George'

Close encounter with curious black bear in Prince George

Close encounter with curious black bear in Prince George – Aug 18, 2021

It’s time for people to take responsibility for that cycle, she told Global News, by setting boundaries between black bears, locations and food sources that could get them into trouble.

“What we’ve seen very sadly is that education alone isn’t working, people aren’t acting on the advice to secure food sources, and give bears lots of personal space,” she explained.

“The Conservation Officer Service do little to no enforcement of the Wildlife Act, so we’re very grateful that the District of North Vancouver just this year introduced a wildlife attractants bylaw which they are enforcing.”

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Relocating problematic bears is rarely an option, Cadman added, and is a stressful experience for the bears even when they’re deemed ‘good candidates’ for a move.

The B.C. Conservation Officer Service says the issue of human-wildlife conflict is complex, and can’t be solved by its officers alone.

Its priority is always public safety, a spokesperson told Global News, and reducing “attractants” is the best way to keep bears out of trouble.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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