UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Local Attitudes towards Bear Management after Illegal Feeding and Problem Bear Activity Dubois, Sara; Fraser, David

Abstract

The “pot bears” received international media attention in 2010 after police discovered the intentional feeding of over 20 black bears during the investigation of an alleged marijuana-growing operation in Christina Lake, British Columbia, Canada. A two-phase random digit dialing survey of the community was conducted in 2011 to understand local perspectives on bear policy and management, before and after a summer of problem bear activity and government interventions. Of the 159 households surveyed in February 2011, most had neutral or positive attitudes towards bears in general, and supported the initial decision to feed the food-conditioned bears until the autumn hibernation. In contrast to wildlife experts however, most participants supported relocating the problem bears, or allowing them to remain in the area, ahead of killing; in part this arose from notions of fairness despite the acknowledged problems of relocation. Most locals were aware of the years of feeding but did not report it, evidently failing to see it as a serious form of harm, even after many bears had been killed. This underscores the importance of preventive action on wildlife feeding and the need to narrow the gap between public and expert opinion on the likely effects of relocation versus killing.

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CC BY 3.0