After spending a few days in “bear jail” a grizzly sow and two yearling cubs in Nemiah Valley have been released. The three bears had become too comfortable around residences and walking the roadways in the area, says Cariboo Chilcotin conservation officer Sgt. Len Butler.
“We captured the bears and re-released them, hoping that they are not going to cause any more problems for the public out there,” he says.
In specific situations, if bears are not garbage habituated, or there is not anything locally that will attract the bears, conservation officers do a “hard release” at the site.
“Of course the site is not a residential area, but more along the lines of larger acreages out there. Right at the site we capture them. We keep them in what is almost like bear jail for a couple of days. Then we release them with aversion techniques, an example being shooting them with rubber bullets as they’re running away.”
It’s a technique that’s been used in the last couple of years that works with some bears because they realize they don’t want to be in that spot, Butler explains.
“We’re not moving them 100 kilometres and two days later they’re coming back. We’re starting to find some success, but it has to be the right situation for sure. If it’s garbage habituated, it’s not going to work.”
If the bears are there because the land owner has a really good spot for them, such as thick bushed areas, then it’s worth a try, he says.
The recent effort in Nemiah Valley is the fourth time Butler has tried the bear jail.
“It’s been successful, especially with sows and cubs. We just finished doing that one about a week and a half ago.”
Denise Koepke, summer student working at the Xeni Gwet’in First Nations Office in Nemiah Valley, says so far the bears have not returned.
“There’s been no news of them coming around,” Koepke says.