A large black bear was put down in Midway after the animal broke into a homeowner’s garage Tuesday, July 13.
The bear’s death came a week after the Village of Midway posted a Facebook alert warning residents of “recent reports of bear activity” in the area. Residents were advised to “be cautious when you are out walking in the village, on the trails, or in your yard.”
Conservation Officer (CO) Mark Walkosky said the bear, a roughly 6-foot, 300-pound male, had long been a fixture in the area. The bear hadn’t posed a threat to people until this year, when Walkosky said he started breaking into residents’ properties in search of food.
The bear was seen Tuesday morning “going from house to house” in search of garbage near 7th Avenue and Eholt Street, Walkosky said. The bear had broken into an area garage by 11 a.m., when Walkosky and fellow CO Kyle Bueckert found him gorging himself on food kept in a properly stored fridge.
Calling the incident “an obvious public safety concern,” Walkoksy said the bear had to be put down. Relocation wasn’t a viable option because the bear was so highly conditioned to people that he knew how to hit up a fridge.
“That’s a learned behaviour,” Walkosky said, adding, “Our policy is very specific when it comes to categorizing the threat level posed by bears who come into public spaces.” He and Bueckert had received three complaints about the bear in the past two weeks alone. Nearby residents came forward to report still others after the bear was put down, he said.
Walkosky stressed that, “95 per cent of euthanizations are avoidable.” Bears become dangerous when they develop a taste for human garbage and fruit trees, he said.
Walkosky and Bueckert are once again reminding residents to immediately report dangerous wildlife sightings, illegal hunting and garbage dumping to the 24-hour Report All Poachers and Polluters hotline at 1-877-952-7277.