File this one in the “what-were-they-thinking” category. A person has been charged by the BC Conservation Officer Service after tossing an entire box of ‘Honey Nut Oats’ breakfast cereal from his car at a bear in the Skeena region.
“A passing motorist witnessed the action along Highway 16 near Kitwanga and called police. The information was relayed to Skeena Conservation Officers, who were in the area on patrol,” reads a post on the BCCOS Facebook page. “[Conservation officers] followed up at the individual’s home, where he was handed a $345 ticket.”
Hundreds of people shared or reacted to the post.
Many people suggested that the fine was not quite enough. “Tickets should be higher. Wildlife is more valuable than $345,” said Holly Elgert, in a comment endorsed by dozens.
“Good, people need to grow a friggin brain,” wrote another person online. “This crap isn’t okay. You don’t need to be feeding them, they have plenty of food.”
A photo posted by the organization shows cereal strewn along the highway. “The main problem with feeding bears is that it habituates them to people, so it conditions them to seek out people as a food source,” a wildlife rehabilitation expert told MyPowellRiverNow.
Feeding bears can have scary consequences for public safety, as well as the safety of the bear.
Over the weekend, a black bear bit a 10-year-old girl’s leg in North Vancouver, sending her to the hospital. “The girl was walking along a trail with her family on Friday afternoon when a bear approached them. As the family and a bystander tried to scare the bear away, the bear bit the girl,” the BCCOS wrote in a separate Facebook post.
According to provincial statistics, the British Columbia Conservation Officer Service has killed 4,341 black bears and 162 grizzly bears in the past eight years. In 2019, 542 black bears and 26 grizzlies were killed. Many if not most of these bears had become habituated to humans as a source of food.
The BC Conservation Service warns people to avoid leaving things that could attract bears and included a photo of a half-eaten apple left by someone on a park bench. The organization urges anyone who sees someone feeding bears or other wildlife in the future to call the B.C. Report All Poachers and Polluters line at 1-877-952-7277.