Woman Fined $60,000 in 'Precedent-Setting' Case for Regularly Feeding Bears

A Canadian woman was recently fined $60,000 in a "precedent-setting case" for regularly feeding black bears in 2018, said the Conservation Officer Service (COS).

Zuzana Stevikova of Whistler, British Columbia received the sentence in North Vancouver Provincial Court last week. According to a public Facebook post from COS, the service launched an investigation in July 2018 upon receiving a complaint that a resident of Whistler's Kadenwood neighborhood was feeding black bears.

"The investigation found that Stevikova had been intentionally feeding black bears throughout the summer of 2018," said COS. "Bulk produce—including up to 10 cases of apples, 50 pounds of carrots and up to 15 dozen eggs—was purchased on a weekly basis to feed the bears."

As a result of receiving food rewards, several bears had become so habituated that they lost their natural fear of people. In September 2018, conservation officers were forced to euthanize three bears that had been frequenting the neighborhood.

"The non-natural food conditioning ensured these bears were not candidates for rehabilitation or relocation, as the risk to the safety of area residents and visitors was simply far too great," COS said.

For the safety of both bears and humans, it is against the law to feed bears in British Columbia.

Bears that receive food rewards eventually become aggressive, which can lead to the death of a human, the bear itself, or both. Bears that receive food rewards often get euthanized—not just in Canada, but in the U.S. as well.

Last month, a bear in Colorado was euthanized after it broke into a residential home and trapped the residents inside. And, a 500-pound black bear was euthanized in Michigan after it made a 125-mile journey home, where it, too, received food rewards.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife said that "Most conflicts between people and bears can be traced to easy-to-get-at human food, garbage, pet food, bird seed or other attractants," according to Newsweek.

By feeding the bears, Stevikova put herself and her neighbors at risk.

"The primary concern of the COS is public safety. Illegally feeding or placing attractants to lure dangerous wildlife, such as bears, is an extremely dangerous activity," said COS Sergeant Simon Gravel. "Once bears learn to associate humans with food, it creates a public safety risk."

According to COS, the fine is the "highest overall penalty imposed under the Wildlife Act in B.C."

The majority of the money will be given to the Habitat Conservation Trust Fund, a "proposal-driven organization" that funds various conservation projects and environmental education initiatives throughout British Columbia.

black bear
A Canadian woman was recently fined $60,000 in a “precedent-setting case” for regularly feeding black bears in 2018, said the Canadian Conservation Officer Service (COS). Officials said the woman purchased "bulk produce—including up to 10 cases of apples, 50 pounds of carrots and up to 15 dozen eggs—was purchased on a weekly basis to feed the bears." heckepics/iStock