Dozen bears move into B.C. community, acting 'like they own the place'

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KAMLOOPS, B.C. - Up to a dozen brazen bears have moved into a British Columbia First Nations community, where they've been hanging out on residents' doorsteps and near the local daycare.

The Adams Lake First Nation, near Kamloops in the B.C. Interior, said the bear count this year is nearly double what is normal.

Chief Nelson Leon said Wednesday that residents are concerned about the hazardous bears.

"At different times of the day we've got people moving around and sometimes they get treed and they don't come down, and people are just walking to and fro and under the tree."

Leon said residents have confronted bears outside their front doors, and that the bruins have been seen loitering near the daycare and wandering through the community during the day.

The bears aren't aggressive, but they're not afraid of people, Leon said.

"There's more of them and they're not afraid of us and they basically figure they own the place, I guess."

Air horns and bearbangers haven't had any impact on moving the bears along.

The problem became so worrisome that the band called in the provincial government for help.

Two bears, a mother and her cub, were captured Wednesday and will be relocated.

Leon said that if three more could be captured and moved, that could take the pressure off the community until the bears head off to hibernate in the next few weeks.

The last thing the band wants to do is destroy the animals, he said.

"We see them as a brother, a relative. It's not our way to go out and wantonly kill an animal or anything without significant reason. Our hope is that we can minimize the risk to our community and make it so they'll head off into their wintering grounds without incident."

It's been a very dry few months in the area, and Leon said he believes the bears have come on to the reserve looking for more food to fatten up for the winter.

Environment Minister Terry Lake has said as many as nine of the habituated bears may have to be put down.

Residents have been told to secure their garbage and pick up any fruit that's fallen from their trees.

Waste from the First Nation's fishery is deposited several kilometres away.

Organizations: British Columbia First Nations, B.C. Interior

Geographic location: B.C., KAMLOOPS

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