05/10/2012 02:48 EDT | Updated 07/10/2012 05:12 EDT

3 Kootenay Grizzlies Destroyed After Eating Sheep


Conservation officers in the West Kootenay destroyed three grizzly bears in less than a week after the bears devoured eight sheep grazing on a ranch near Edgewood, B.C., north of Castlegar.

The three bears were coming out of hibernation and got a taste for sheep, the conservation officers said.

A fourth was relocated after chasing an ostrich, which died. But since the grizzly didn't feed on the bird, the bear was trapped and taken to the Granby Wilderness area near Grand Forks, B.C.

"We do our best to relocate these animals but once they prey on stock, they come back and prey on more livestock it's something they realize is a food source for them," said conservation officer supervisor Sgt. Arnold DeBoon.

The remaining sheep were also relocated — to the other side of Arrow Lake, where one was then eaten by a cougar.

Grizzlies came out hibernation early

DeBoon said he's never seen anything like this, and says its likely because the predators are coming out of hibernation earlier than usual this year.

"So this poor lady in Edgewood lost a lot of sheep in a short time to grizzlies and cougars and unfortunately the grizzly bear population took a hit as well. Probably in part because they were out early and the amount of available food other than livestock was quite limited," said DeBoon.

Other communities in the B.C. interior have experienced similar grizzly problems.

In April, "Homer" the grizzly, a much-loved bruin from Bralorne, B.C., in the south Chilcotin, was shot and killed by conservation officers after the bear came out of hibernation early, and raided residents houses and chicken coops.