Motorists in Highway 4 construction line warned not to feed bears

Watchbears, feeding bears, Kennedy Lake construction, PORT ALBERNI, tofino, Ucluelet

Construction on Highway 4 at Kennedy Lake near Ucluelet this summer has resulted in long lines of traffic and lengthy waits to get through the road work being done.

And now it appears some people have been passing the time by feeding one or more bears.

“They just saw people handing food out the window,” said Warren Warttig, president of Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society who received the complaints. “One was handing food out the windows and one was actually getting out of the car trying to get the bear to come closer.”

The north island-based animal rescue group MARS says it received five complaints over three days concerning the dangerous activity that endangers the safety of people and the bears.

“Well, in this case, they’re luring them closer to a roadway so there’s the potential for an impact with a car but they’re also food conditioning them and habituating them to people,” says MARS’s Gyl Andersen.

Such activity can make bears extra aggressive towards people and that’s why many of them have to be put down.

This is not the first time people have tempted fate with bears. A video that went viral in May 2016 showed two people feeding a bear rice cakes.

It also took place on Highway 4 near Kennedy Lake. Those two individuals were eventually caught and fined $345 each for breaking a law that prohibits feeding dangerous wildlife.

The BC Conservation Officer Service said Monday it is now investigating these latest allegations.

“It’s an offence under the Wild Life Act but most importantly her,e we’re putting people at risk,” said Conservation Officer Steve Petrovcic. “We’re influencing a bear’s behaviour and that is absolutely not desirable. We want to keep bears wild and people safe.”

Dean StoltzDean Stoltz

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