Conservation officers shoot bear in Surrey, Mounties arrest man

Bear had been wandering around in Guildford and Tynehead, also through schoolyards

The shooting of a black bear in Surrey by conservation officers has people riled.

One guy even got arrested for allegedly obstructing a peace officer.

But from the officers’ perspective, the bruin had to be killed.

Inspector Murray Smith, of the B.C. Conservation Officer Service, said the “sub-adult” bear had been wandering around in Guildford and Tynehead for about four days, passing through the school grounds at Harold Bishop Elementary school and Fraser Heights Secondary School.

“There was kids in the school at the time, and the principal had to hold the kids in the school,” he said. “It killed chickens. It got into the Toyota dealer’s commercial garbage. Everything got worse and worse and worse.”

The conservation service received 21 reports of the bear and set traps as it started moving toward Guildford Town Centre, making its way through backyards.

Surrey Mounties spotted it and put their sirens on. “The bear just kind of looked at them, it didn’t run away. And then the bear mosied right into a group of people, and scattered them, so the thing is the bear had lost its fear of people.”

“It’s really unfortunate,” he said, of having to put the bear down. “None of the officers get into this to destroy wildlife.

“Public safety is our priority.”

The bear was shot Monday night at a ravine near 160th Street and 104th Avenue, Smith said.

READ ALSO: Black bear spotted in Surrey neighbourhood

Holly Dampier-Piwowarski told the Now-Leader she was “not impressed at all.”

“Where is the respect for our animal kingdom?”

She said the “harmless” bear was “right behind my house” and “didn’t harm my family at all.

“Maybe our conservation officers could have taken the time to put the bear to sleep and move it to a location.”

Smith said this was the first confirmed bear sighting in Surrey since 2013. He said it’s believed this particular bear swam across the Fraser River from Coquitlam or Port Coquitlam, where there are on average 2,000 bear sightings reported each year.

Surrey RCMP Corporal Elenore Sturko said Mounties “did assist conservation. One individual was arrrested for obstructing and they were arrested and released and the investigation is ongoing.”

She said a man, whom she did not name, was arrested for allegedly “interfering with the conservation officer in the lawful execution of their duties.”

No charge has been laid.

Chris Strotmann, who lives near 157th Street and 105th Avenue, told the Now-Leader he was arrested.

“They screwed it up even worse by arresting me and the bear got away again,” he said. “It happened close to my yard and on my property.”

“She came down the road and there she pulls out a gun and she’s going to try to shoot him right there and there’s people around, children around, and she’s yelling at me to get my dog away from the bear,” he said. “Now, I run over there to protect my livestock and get the bear out, whatever, follow it, get it out, or whatever.

“Finally it was shot on my property. I was in the back of the car at that time, again, that’s when they brutally arrested me, threw me down on the ground, threw the handcuffs on me, punched me in the gut, threw me in the car,” he said, “and then they went back and shot the bear.”



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

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