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Black bear killed after climbing into Tow Hill cabin

Conservation Office urging islanders to report negative bear interactions
FILE - A black bear is pictured on Tow Hill Road in 2018. Conservation officers were called to Tow Hill Road on Saturday, Aug. 22, 2020 after a black bear climbed into a cabin. The bear was determined to be a threat to public safety and destroyed. (Archie Stocker Sr./Haida Gwaii Observer file)

Conservation officers (COs) are urging Haida Gwaii residents to report negative wildlife interactions after a black bear broke into a Tow Hill cabin and was subsequently destroyed on Saturday (Aug. 22).

Chris Ashurst, president of the Tow Hill Community Association, told the Observer he contacted COs after a local resident said a bear had climbed through the window of their small cabin the night before to eat food, trashed the place and then left through the same opening.

The bear was still wandering through people’s yards on Saturday afternoon, and when CO Tony Maestrello arrived he determined it was food-conditioned and habituated to humans, making it a public safety hazard.

Maestrello’s intentions were to set a trap at the back of the cabin to catch the bear and destroy it, but while at the scene he had a safe shot and decided to take it.

“It was walking around someone’s house,” he said. “Once they’ve reached that level of habituation, public safety is number one, so we weren’t going to take any chances with the bear.”

Maestrello added that he will be following up with a bear attractant audit of the community, and asks that all islanders remove bear attractants in their area and report any negative interactions by calling the RAPP line at 1-877-952-7277.

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Ashurst said the incident is a good reminder for local residents to be responsible with their garbage by putting it out on garbage day, especially since he believes the same bear that was destroyed was getting into garbages within the community throughout the week leading up to the incident.

He also encouraged people to make use of the RAPP line and said the community association will be having a discussion about possible solutions, such as bear-proof bins.

“It’s going to take the entire community to work together on this,” he said.

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