A ginormous black bear responsible for a string of house break-ins in California is set to be killed, against the wishes of animal rights groups who are campaigning for it to be rehomed to a sanctuary. Known as Yogi or Jake to residents in the area, the 227 kilogram (500 pound) bear is thought to be responsible for 38 damaged homes and 150 emergency calls, as he rifles through populated areas in search of edible garbage.
Now, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has said they have no choice but to kill the bear, as its willingness to enter populated areas makes it dangerous.
“It is the point of no return for this bear, but the public needs to fix the things that brought us to this point, or it will continue,” said Jason Holley, a supervising wildlife biologist at the Fish and Wildlife department, reports the Independent.
“This is hard on staff, they don’t become biologists to kill.”
Predictably, the decision has divided residents of the area. Some outraged locals are speaking up against the killing of the bear, arguing it should be relocated to a sanctuary where it can live out its hefty life in safety. Locals are even reporting the container-sized bear traps that officials have laid out (no, they aren’t using the typical brutal leg traps most commonly associated with bear traps) are being vandalized with "bear killer" graffitied onto them.
Unfortunately, while heart-breaking for bear-lovers, euthanizing bears that come close to urban areas is a tragic but necessary practice in some cases. Black bears such as this one are often more afraid of humans than the other way round, and sightings are mostly of them just grabbing some garbage lying around for a free meal. But should they become habituated to humans, bears become a problem.
Bears found repeatedly encroaching on urban areas will often be sedated and relocated to the wilderness once again, but bears accustomed to humans often lack the basic skills needed to survive in the wild. In this case, the Fish and Wildlife Department believe that Yogi/Jake does not possess the skills to fish. Bears often die in more painful ways in these instances. BEAR League and other activist groups believe this is an unnecessary waste of life, and that Yogi/Jake should be moved to a sanctuary.
This is now being considered by the Fish and Wildlife Department, according to the Independent.
In Canada, residents of Churchill, Manitoba, have devised a different method of deterrence. Dubbed the "polar bear jail", this ex-military unit is used as a holding facility for troublesome polar bears who refuse to stay away from the town’s inhabitants. A problematic bear will be held there for two to 30 days, though the sentence can be extended for particularly heinous inmates. The incarcerated bears are not fed (bears are used to fasting so it doesn’t harm them) before being tranquilized and transported by helicopter back out to the Tundra. The idea is that bears come to associate the inhabited areas with danger, and don’t return.