Posted October 1, 2021 8:22 pm EST
A Whistler woman has been handed $60,000 in fines for feeding bears, in what the B.C. Conservation Officer Service calls a “potentially precedent-setting case.”
The service says the fines, related to incidents in 2018, are the highest overall penalty imposed under the B.C. Wildlife Act.
Zuzana Stevikova received the sentence in North Vancouver Provincial Court earlier this week.
Conservation officers launched an investigation in July 2018, after a tip someone in Whistler’s Kadenwood neighbourhood was feeding black bears.
Investigators determined she had been feeding bears throughout the summer, buying bulk produce — including “up to 10 cases of apples, 50 pounds of carrots and up to 15 dozen eggs” on a weekly basis, according to the B.C. COS.
“These activities created an extraordinary public safety risk by conditioning bears to human food and presence,” the service said.
“In Sept. 2018, Conservation Officers were forced to put down three bears that were repeatedly visiting the area, causing property damage, and exhibiting highly habituated behaviour showing no fear of people.”
Conservation officers say once bears are conditioned to human food they usually cannot be relocated or rehabilitated, and become a serious risk to the public.
A second person, Oliver Dugan, was initially charged along with Stevikova however court records indicate a Crown-initiated stay of proceedings on his file.
Under the B.C. Wildlife Act, anyone convicted of feeding bears faces an up to $100,000 fine or up to one year in prison, or both.