The Conservation Officer Service says that three bears were destroyed in Squamish on Sunday.

Conservation Officer Tim Schumacher says a sow that had been captured and released previously but continued to pursue garbage totes was destroyed. Her cubs were also destroyed as they had learnt bad habits from their mother and were not candidates for rehabilitation according to Schumacher. All management techniques were explored over several weeks before determining the fate of the animals.

The bears were located near the Soleil at Coastal Village construction site operated by SVR Investments in downtown Squamish near the Squamish Estuary where unsecured attractants were found, and while the Conservation Officer Service says the bears were not destroyed as a result of the construction site’s oversight, it did contribute to the bears habituation, and the site is now under investigation.

A Squamish resident who preferred not to be named witnessed the bear exit the construction site on Sunday and said the site had a substantial amount of garbage present. Multiple photos were also posted to social media showing garbage strewn around the site.

The District of Squamish (DoS) is also investigating any potential infractions of the Wildlife Attractant Bylaw at the site, but emphasize that the destruction of the bears was not the result of one incident or the fault of one business or one person. The District does require construction sites to manage their waste in wildlife resistant containers as per the bylaw. Contractors can rent suitable containers from Carney’s Waste or other waste management contractors

SVR Investments Project Manager Travis Brooks who runs the Soleil at Coastal Village site says he has been on the job for three and a half months and not had any problems with wildlife previously and that there was no evidence bears had gotten into the site before.

The company has night shift security and they did not receive any reports of bear activity from them either. Brooks says the site is completely fenced in and garbage cans were emptied into a large metal construction bin daily. The metal bin, however, does not have a roof and is open to the elements.

Brooks says staff from the DoS have since walked the site and said that the site looked fine. “We feel terrible about it, we did not want it to happen by any stretch” says Brooks. The company has taken precautions since the incident, including installing a locked dumpster. They are aware that the bears in question had also been accessing residential garbage nearby.

District of Squamish Communications Manager Christina Moore says Building Inspectors regularly conduct site inspections for compliance with the Building Bylaw, BC Building Code and public safety. Moore says that in light of this situation, the District has “reviewed its policies and has identified a number of initiatives that can be implemented to take a stronger cross-departmental approach to wildlife attractant management and compliance on construction sites”.

The changes include developing bylaw/site requirement education materials that will accompany building permit approvals. These materials would also require the applicant’s signature. Site visits with a combined inspection/enforcement team approach will also be introduced for larger projects. This could include Bylaw and/or WildsafeBC and/or Building Inspectors. Moore says they “take this issue very seriously and are committed to improving our outreach and policies in this area”.

Conservation Officer Tim Schumacher urges the public to store all garbage, organics and recycling totes in a garage or shed if possible and ensure both latches work. The District of Squamish says around 140 totes have been damaged so far this year (50 in June alone), 400 totes were damaged last year. Typically Carney’s Waste will replace damaged totes next time they service the residence or business, however the District says Carney’s has been responsive to residents experiencing multiple visits from bears, and made special trips to repair totes.

You can find bear smart tips compiled by the DoS by clicking here.


Filed under: Bear, Conservation Officer Service, District of Squamish, Squamish, Wildlife