The story of a young bear known for approaching members of the public in Terra Nova National Park has ended tragically.
The bear was euthanized over the weekend by Fish and Wildlife enforcement officers with the Department of Justice after it reportedly approached patrons of the Copper Kettle Restaurant near Square Pond Park, located approximately 30 kilometres east of Gander. It had earlier shown itself to be a traffic hazard on the Trans-Canada Highway, according to Vanessa Colman-Sadd, director of communications with the Department of Justice.
A trap was set earlier this spring to catch the cub after officials at the Terra Nova National Park received multiple complaints about the bear. They later caught the bear and released it in a more isolated area.
The bear was immortalized in a photo with Const. Suzanne Bourque from the Glovertown detachment of the RCMP that appeared in the June 9 edition of The Telegram. It was shown standing upright next to the officer, gazing at her inquisitively. The bear approached Bourque without her noticing.
She had been interviewing people at the park prior to the bear’s appearance.
Kirby Tulk, acting resource conservation manager with Terra Nova National Park, said the park deals with bears every year.
“This is the time of year where bears are drawn to roadsides, because that’s where we get the first vegetation,” he said.
As this happens, Tulk said the public becomes drawn to the bears, often feeding them and taking pictures.
“Then, the bears, instead of coming to the roadside to feed off their natural vegetation, they become attracted to cars and humans because they learn to associate vehicles and humans with food.”
While he understands a young bear may look cute, its mother should be feared.
“If it’s a very young bear, their mom isn’t very far away, so sometimes it’s not the little bear you’re feeding, but it’s actually the mother bear in the woods,” he said, adding that park officials ask the public to avoid feeding bears.
Once that happens, Tulk said officials employ aversion techniques to discourage bears from approaching people. If those tricks do not work, the bear will be moved.
However, moving this bear was not enough. Colman-Sadd said based on its encounters with the public it was determined the bear had to be euthanized.
Terra Nova National Park does not have estimates on its bear population.