BC tour company fined $35K for baiting bears with food

Nov 28 2019, 5:16 pm

A BC tour company has been fined $35,000 after it was found guilty of baiting bears with human food in an attempt to give its clients “better viewing opportunities.”

In a statement, the BC Conservation Officer Service (BCCOS) said the company, Blue River Safari – based in Blue River, BC – received the highest fine amount imposed in a BC court in connection with attracting dangerous wildlife.

The verdict saw the company’s Russell Critchlow and his sister Debra each ordered to pay the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation $17,400. Both were fined an additional $200 as well.

Blue River Safari was also ordered to create an anti-bear-baiting policy and and undergo “wildlife attractant inspections.”

According to the BCCOS, the investigation began in August 2017, following a complaint “about bears being used for better viewing opportunities.”

Using electronic surveillance as part of its efforts, the BCCOS discovered that the company would throw “cranberries, peanut butter, and meatballs” to bait the bears.

The COS said its primary concern with such actions revolves around safety of both the humans and the bears involved in such incidents.

Beyond the illegal nature of feeding – or placing attractants to lure – wildlife “is an extremely dangerous activity.” And once bears “learn to associate humans with food, it creates an extraordinary public safety risk.”

In its statement, the BCCOS said wildlife tour operators “have a responsibility to ensure they conduct business in a lawful manner that is safe for clients, staff, and the public.”

When operators such as Blue River Safari fail to do this, they furthered, it negatively impacts “the reputation of the legitimate industry in BC.”