NEWS

Garbage-addicted rare white bear may have to be put down

08/22/2013 08:40 EDT | Updated 10/22/2013 05:12 EDT
A rare white-furred bear that was relocated from a small town in B.C.'s Rocky Mountains last year may soon be shot and killed by conservation officers.

The bear is one of two white bear cubs — a pair of sisters — that began lingering around the town of Elkford, B.C. in the fall of 2011.

They got into the habit of picking through garbage for food and by 2012 the white-furred bears, which are actually the same species as regular black bears, were habituated to people and had outstayed their welcome.

But, because of the rare colour of their fur, conservation officers made an exception: Rather than shoot the bears, the B.C. Conservation Officer Service trapped and relocated them about 100 kilometres to the north, to a wilder area in Alberta's Kananaskis Country.

Now, one of the two white-furred bears has wandered back into town, and fallen back into its old ways.

Kathy Murray, the Elk Valley regional coordinator of the British Columbia Conservation Foundation's WildSafe B.C. program, says the bear probably won't get another break.

"It's pretty unlikely," she said. "This an example where relocating bears is not a solution. These bears are very smart and they remember easily-accessible food sources, and they will almost always come back."

As of Wednesday afternoon, conservation officers had not yet shot the white bear, but Murray says if it remains around town much longer, its future doesn't look promising.

The second white black bear cub removed last year from Elkford has not yet been spotted around town.

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