A man lounging in a hot tub in the B.C. village of Whistler Sunday was the victim of an unprovoked black bear attack. With his back to nearby woods the man was suddenly smacked in the back of his head; turning, he found himself staring at a black bear.
The 55-year-old did what most of us would - he fled. He made his way into the home he was staying at and called the local RCMP. The man, not seriously harmed, stayed inside and the black bear stayed outside. When officers arrived they shot and killed the bear.
Canadian RCMP and black bear policy
RCMP and conservation officers do have the option of tranquilizing bears and returning them to the wild. But if they determine the animal has acted aggressively or become habituated to human locations and will return, endangering residents, they can, and often do, shoot them.
On its website, the B.C. Ministry of Environment says that from 2004 through 2009 "Conservation Officers in British Columbia had to kill, on average, 538 black bears and 37 grizzlies each year because of real or perceived threats to human safety." The website goes on to say that more often problems begin with bears being "allowed to access non-natural food sources."
The Spring is a time when newly-awakened bears will forage into villages and towns in B.C. and elsewhere in North America. Unprovoked attacks are rare, though not unheard of. Since the year 2000, 19 people are believed to have been killed by black bears in Canada and the U.S., with 3 deaths coming in British Columbia.