Bear Trap COS
(Conservation Officer Service/Facebook)

A Shawnigan Lake woman was charged with tampering with a bear trap that had been set by the Conservation Officer Service (COS).

In a post on their Facebook page on Wednesday, the COS said they were forced to set the trap in the Shawnigan Lake area last month after a black bear became habituated to humans.

Earlier education and enforcement efforts failed to reduce the conflict between human and the bear, and it had become an ongoing public safety risk.

Soon after setting the trap officers received reports that it had been tampered with, rendering it inoperable.

Signage had also been posted on the trap.

The COS says that as a direct result of tampering the bear was never captured.

An investigation led to the identification and charging of a local resident.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of the Environment said she was fined $345 under Section 46 of the Wildlife Act, which specifically prohibits tampering with a lawfully set trap.

The Act calls for fines up to $100,000 and/or jail time up to one year for this type of offence.

A person convicted of multiple offences can face a minimum fine of $2,000 all the way up to $200,000, and/or jail time up to two years.

“The COS wants to stress that interfering or tampering with lawfully set traps is illegal and dangerous for both the public and the offender,” the COS wrote on Facebook.

“The trap can injure an untrained person and a conflict animal can remain at large, exacerbating the public safety risk.”

They added that people concerned for the safety of wildlife should put their efforts into managing attractants and reducing root causes of human-wildlife conflict.