Bev Bacon’s B.C. Day long weekend was off to a fine start until she found out one of her sheep had been killed by a bear in a pasture near her Metchosin property.
She arrived to find the lamb with fatal bite marks and immediately called the B.C. Conservation Officer Service in hopes of having them track the bear down with dogs or set up a bear trap – but to no avail.
“We missed a perfect opportunity to get this bear because of the holiday weekend,” said Bacon in an email sent to conservation officers.
“The problem as I see it with our present system is that your department is understaffed and spread too thinly. It is perfectly reasonable that your priority has to be where carnivores are a threat to people.”
But with livestock left to protect, Bacon proposed a collective of sheep farmers buy their own live trap and store it at the municipal yard or a local farm.
With small profit margins already, the cost of losing sheep or setting up deterrents such as electric fencing aren’t feasible for Bacon or others.
It’s a problem that’s left Metchosin Mayor John Ranns frustrated. He sent a letter to B.C. Conservation in mid-July and has spoken with the department, trying to address the way officers have been dealing with the growing bear population.
“I was given reassurance that if there was a kill, an officer would be alerted in time to have dogs sent out and track down the bear,” he said.
But several kills later, including three losses at Parry Bay Sheep Farm, one at Stillmeadow Farm in late July and Bacon’s latest loss, Ranns had yet to hear of officers dispatched with dogs.
Bacon and Ranns believe it is one bear wreaking havoc on local flocks. “This bear has already proved that it’s not scared of people, which makes this a public threat,” Ranns said. “This bear should’ve been taken care of weeks ago.”
B.C. Conservation did not respond to requests for comment by the Gazette’s press deadline.