According to government data, bears in Ontario are more likely to be killed than tranquilized when police are involved.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry said it received 4,293 calls for bear sightings last year. Of those sightings, about two percent required an on-the-ground response and local authorities are often first on the scene. But police forces are not trained to deal with wildlife. In 70 percent of those cases, the bear is killed because of “public safety concerns.”
The Ministry’s spokesperson, Todd Lane, told Global News that even though chemical immobilization is the preferred option in such cases, the public’s safety is the top concern.
Earlier this month, police shot and killed a black bear that had wandered into a suburban backyard in Newmarket. It climbed up a tree and while waiting for Ontario conservation officers to arrive, the animal descended back down. Police fatally shot the bear, saying they had no choice. Ministry staff arrived after the bear had died.
News of the shooting sparked outrage in the community and online. Under the current system, the Ministry relies on local law enforcement to deal with bears, but the police are not equipped with tranquilizers. Once the animal is confined and no longer considered a public threat, Ministry experts are brought in.