A grizzly bear that was relocated just a couple weeks ago after it showed up on a small island off the northeastern coast of Vancouver Island has been shot dead in an apparent act of self-defence.
The bear, Mali, was relocated to mainland B.C. after it showed up on Hanson Island.
B.C. Conservation Officer Service confirmed that the incident took place on the evening of April 20. Investigation into the circumstance concluded the shooting was in self defence and no charges were laid .
Mali was identified by the ear tags that were placed on him during the relocation operation when he was moved to a remote area on B.C.’s mainland.
In a statement, the Conservation Officers Services said that the bear was killed more than 30 kilometres away from the isolated area where it was released.
The grizzly bear made headlines earlier in April due to the historical nature of joint efforts in its relocation operation. Several groups including conservation officers, First Nations and the Grizzly Bear Foundation came together to relocate Mali.
Nicholas Scapillati, executive director of Grizzly Bear Foundation, said that although the bear was successfully relocated, there was no means to trace its movements and it must have wandered off again into a residential area in search of food or a new habitat.
“Unfortunately Mali wasn’t collared when he was relocated since everything happened very rapidly back then,” Scapillati said.
Mali had previously swum to Hanson Island in search of food.
“Grizzly bears are moving across the Island and we need to put some science behind this issue and find out why they are moving,” said Scapillati.
He said when most people spot a bear in a residential area, they panic and resort to guns which often results in the bear’s death.
Conservation officials throughout the region have been advising on the use of bear spray as the “most effective tool” and a “safer option for both citizens and bears.”
Scapillati stressed on increasing awareness through educative campaigns about bear sprays and attractants so that humans and bears can live in peaceful coexistence in the future.
“Mali’s situation could have been very different,” he added.
However, the joint conservation efforts that took place in relocating Mali earlier was a positive development in conservation efforts, setting precedent for more such rescue and relocation operations.
“Sad things can happen in conservation sometimes, but you learn a lot and know that more grizzly bears need to be protected.”
The conservation officers will give Mali’s body to the First Nations who will hold a small burial ceremony for the bear.