Fort Nelson residents want grizzly bear gone but conservation officer says it's 'not too much of a concern'

Fort Nelson resident Linda Mould wants to see the B.C. Conservation Officer Service take action because of a grizzly bear that's been spotted over the past few weeks.

She's not the only one either. Social media in the northern Interior town has been abuzz with bear sightings and conservation officer Jeff Clancy said he's been getting upwards of three phone calls a day about it.

"Right now, it's just sightings. There's no conflict involved that we've been made aware of," he said.

However, Mould, 66, who has lived in the area for more than 60 years, said bears are not common in town and she is worried about the danger the grizzly poses to children.

Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press
Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press

"There are numerous people that have their children in school that they are not allowing them to stand outside to take the bus," said the grandmother of nine.

"They're severely limited as to what they're able to do outside right now, because the parents are afraid of this grizzly bear that's lurking on the outskirts. So, if something's not done, which I'm quite confident nothing will be done, these kids are basically being held hostage prior to winter even starting."

People in town have been talking about bear sightings since the end of August. Mould believes that if a grizzly bear was wandering in a larger city like Vancouver, it would have been removed by now.

"Grizzly bears are not normal to Fort Nelson and all we're doing is just keeping an eye on them," she said.

"I just really wish that the COs would take us a little bit more seriously and understand and appreciate that our fear is honest. Just because we have not been educated in the way of the bear does not mean that we don't have respect for them and are afraid of them," she added.

Monitoring the situation, says conservation officer

Clancy has seen the bear and describes it as a 300 pound, three-year-old grizzly with a brown coat and silver tips on its back.

Up until now, the bear has mostly been seen on large rural properties on the outskirts of town, chowing down on fruit and grass, he said.

When Clancy saw the bear and approached, he said it took off.

"It still has its fear of humans which is good. You know it doesn't show any signs of habituation," said Clancy.

"It does seem to have some sort of food condition habits right now. It is coming back to the same location, but nothing that's causing any concern."

They are currently monitoring the bear and have set out traps for it. "If we can capture it, then we will relocate," said Clancy.

He added that for those who are concerned it is just him monitoring a large area of northern B.C. as a conservation officer, RCMP officers in the area are also trained to respond if there is an incident with the bear.

However, they have no plans to put it down.

"A unique sighting of a grizzly bear hanging around some rural properties is not enough to euthanize a bear. And I am pretty sure the majority of the public in British Columbia would agree with me on that," said Clancy.

"It's just unfortunate that he's kind of found a nice comfy home next to some residences close to Fort Nelson."