09/05/2013 09:14 EDT | Updated 11/05/2013 05:12 EST

Mother Bear, Two Cubs Shot Dead In Okanagan

Gail Tienkamp

An Okanagan woman says she's upset conservation officers shot a mother bear and her two cubs near her home.

Gail Tienkamp, who lives in Coldstream near Vernon, says the three black bears had been eating salmon in a nearby creek before they were shot early Tuesday morning.

Tienkamp says she heard a high-powered rifle shot and found two conservation officers and some of her neighbours standing over the bodies of the three bears.

"I am extremely distraught. It's horrible," she said. "The did not need to be slaughtered at all. If they had just used their common sense and let the situation settle down, they could have removed them."

But conservation officer Sgt. Josh Lockwood says they made the decision to shoot the bears after weighing several factors, including the fact there was an elementary school nearby.

The bears had also killed turkeys and were chasing newborn calves on a neighbour's farm, he said.

"The assessment was made to attempt to tranquilize these bears that were extremely high in the tree," Lockwood said. "The fall would have been probably severe."

Tienkamp, who filed a complaint with the Ministry of the Environment, said she was also upset because conservation officers did not inform her of their decision to shoot the bears.

"It was outrageous," she said. "We were not informed that this was happening and we were actually walking within 30 feet of those rifles going off.

"They endangered our lives and our domestic and livestock animals by not warning us to get in the house."

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