Conservation officers search for a bear in the area of Gyro Recreation Park in late November. (Susan Quinn/Alberni Valley News)

B.C. Conservation Service defends three arrests as officers shoot problem bears

Three people charged under BC Wildlife Act in Coquitlam

B.C.’s Conservation Officer Service said four bears were euthanized following two separate incidents, one of which involved the arrest of three people over allegations they tried to obstruct the work of their officers.

Insp. Murray Smith said two men and a woman in Coquitlam were taken into custody and charged Tuesday with obstructing a conservation officer for allegedly stepping between the officers and a mother black bear with two cubs.

Officers were trying to direct the severely habituated, garbage-raiding bears up a tree so they could be tranquilized and euthanized, but the alleged interference put officers and the public at risk, Smith said during a conference call with reporters.

He described a separate, equally challenging bear encounter faced by conservation officers on the same day 200 kilometres away on a remote section of B.C.’s Sunshine Coast north of Powell River.

A 45-year-old Quadra Island man had been attacked by a three- to five-year-old grizzly on Monday, but despite injuries to his legs and torso the man had managed to slash the bear with a knife, scaring it off.

“The Conservation Officer Service attended to the location Tuesday morning and located a grizzly bear which had begun to stalk the officers from the rear while they were searching for the bear in the forest,” said Smith.

The healthy, male bear was euthanized and Smith said officers discovered it had a significant neck wound, confirming it was the animal injured the day earlier during the unprovoked attack on the Quadra Island man.

READ MORE: ‘Predatory’ grizzly euthanized after Quadra Island man survives attack

A necropsy was being conducted but results were not available Wednesday.

The injured man was being treated in hospital for his injuries and was expected to make a full recovery, Smith said, adding the service was still trying to determine what had prompted the attack.

He said the grizzly was killed because it was threatening the conservation officers, while the sow and seven-month-old cubs were euthanized because they were no longer fearful of humans and were habituated to human garbage.

“They should be fairly healthy, quite robust bears, about 50 pounds,” Smith said, describing the cubs.

“Apparently, these bears were half that weight, undersized and appeared undernourished.”

The Conservation Officer Service was also within its right to seek the arrest of the three residents who allegedly interfered and seize their cellphones, Smith told reporters.

“Under provincial legislation, the Wildlife Act of British Columbia, as well as the Criminal Code of Canada, there is authority there to seize evidence associated with the commission of a crime and in this case, this is an investigation associated to a criminal offence.”

The phones would be returned once investigators determined if any evidence of obstruction exists, said Smith.

Beth Leighton, The Canadian Press

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