A bear that wandered through downtown Langley on Sunday, Sept. 24 had to be put down, the provincial Conservation Officer Service (COS) confirmed Tuesday, saying it was looking into a report that some people may have been been feeding the animal.
“Public safety is the priority of the COS,” an unsigned COS statement said.
“To ensure public safety, this bear was put down. We know this is an unfortunate outcome [that] we work so hard to prevent.”
On Sunday, police received numerous calls about a black bear in the Langley/Surrey area and notified the COS.
It had reportedly travelled past the Langley Walmart and the Willowbrook Shopping Centre and was found at an apartment complex across from the Fraser Highway, where conservation officers were able to tranquilize the bear. It had an ear tag, meaning conservation officers have been in contact with it in the past.
According to the COS, the female bear was euthanized after “a thorough assessment, including a review of its history.”
COS said the bear had been relocated from Coquitlam in mid-August and returned to a “high-density urban setting only weeks later.”
“During this time, conservation officers also received multiple reports of this bear accessing non-natural food sources, such as garbage. In addition, another report was received alleging this bear was being fed by people. The COS is actively investigating these feeding allegations.”
“COS continues to urge the public to do their part to help keep wildlife wild,” the statement added.
“The COS also cannot stress enough the importance of not feeding dangerous wildlife.”
Multiple social media posts tracked the movement of the bear near the Home Depot hardware store, a motel, and the Willowbrook shopping centre before she was tranquilized in a building’s visitor parking, around 11:30 a.m.
Resident Allie Wilkinson, who lives in the building, which she described as “kitty-corner to Willowbrook mall,” witnessed the capture.
“I actually just feel kind of bad for her,” Wilkinson commented. “I mean, she was just looking for somewhere to go, for something to eat.”
Earlier in the day, Jeff Barrett took some pictures when he saw the bear heading for Willowbrook shopping centre.
“I was just standing in the Popeye’s parking lot waiting for them to open for their customer appreciation sale [and I] looked over, and there he was, walking up through the parking lot of Superstore and walked past me across to the RBC in the Willowbrook lot,” Barrett told the Langley Advance Times.
To report a bear conflict or the unlawful feeding of dangerous wildlife, call the Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) hotline at 1-877-952-7277.