The number of black bears killed by Canadian Fish and Wildlife Conservation officers near the Alberta tar sands nearly tripled to 145 in 2011 as compared to the 2010 total. The news, reported by the Calgary Herald, comes from Alberta Sustainable Resource Development.
Spokesman Darcy Whiteside said the number is the highest in recent years, and that 68 of the killings happened in tar sands camps and facilities to which hungry bears are attracted by unsecured garbage. Fifty one of the bears were shot on residential property.
Alberta Wilderness Association conservation specialist Carolyn Campbell told the Calgary Herald that, “There needs to be much more responsible behaviour by companies running these camps to really get serious about reducing food and other attractants. … The attitude of ‘attract them, feed them and then shoot’ them is really repugnant to most Albertans.”
A CBC report cited Alberta Sustainable Resources Minister Frank Oberle who said there will be a review of “garbage management” practices.
Although the boom in tar sands activity is doubtless a factor in the uptick, regular citizens also seem to need some instruction on bear safety. One concerned local resident spoke of Albertans regularly “throwing dog food out and feeding the bears, enticing them to come back.”
Here is a video of a black bear foraging on a dumpster near a tar sands camp (found at Treehugger).