Bear conflict calls surge in B.C.’s northern Interior this year

B.C.’s northern Interior has seen a huge spike in bear conflict calls over the past six months, according to conservation officers, even after years of educating the public not to leave garbage in open areas as attractants for wild animals.

Many Prince Rupert residents were shocked when an adult male black bear was killed downtown by an RCMP officer on Sept. 10. Last Tuesday in Prince George, a female bear was put down by a conservation officer.

The number of bear-related complaints since April is unusual, said B.C. North Coast conservation officer Sgt. Tracy Walbauer, who has worked in his position for two decades.

“We typically have between 300 and 600 bear complaints a year, and we’re already at 900 and we’re just half way through the fiscal [year],” he said. “We typically don’t get busy until the fall.”

Walbauer said bear sighting calls come mostly from the growing Kitamaat and Terrace villages and rarely from Prince Rupert, but his team has received 14 reports this year from the city.

But it’s a far cry from the increase in bear sightings in Prince George, where conservation officer Sgt. Steve Ackles says there have been 1,270 reports of black bears.

A black bear wanders around by a park on McKay Street in Prince Rupert, B.C. (Jamie Lavallee-Pritchard)

Ackles has worked in his position for 15 years. He said Prince George destroys about 40 bears per year, but it has already put down 30 over the past six months.

“It’s disheartening,” he said. “Apparently, the public doesn’t want to save bears or keep themselves safe.”

Ackles said Prince George residents are responsible for the high number of bear sightings and deaths.

“You drive down any street in Prince George and you’ll see garbage cans stored in front of their garage doors,” he said.

The two cubs left behind by the female bear destroyed in Prince George were transferred to Smithers’ Northern Light Wildlife Society co-founded by Angelika Langen. 

She said it’s painful to watch the baby bears losing their mother, but people should be accountable for managing their garbage well, instead of blaming officers who kill the animals.

“Not pointing out where the problem really lies is not helping,” said Langen to Carolina De Ryk, host of CBC’s Daybreak North. “If you just gloss it over and not really control where the problem is, it’s never going to change.” 

Tap the link below to listen to Angelika Langen’s interview on Daybreak North:

The Northern Lights Wildlife Society is frustrated by the amount of attractants being left out in northern communities, leading to the shooting of bears and orphaning of cubs. 6:37

Subscribe to Daybreak North on CBC Listen or your favourite podcast app, and connect with CBC Northern British Columbia on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. 

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House labor committee subpoenas NLRB over conflict of interest questions on joint-employer issues

Committee chairman Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-Va.) said that the board’s ongoing refusal to provide the documents suggests that the board is covering up malfeasance, according to a letter from Scott to the panel to NLRB Chairman John Ring.

“[T]he continued refusal to give the Committee certain documents indicate that the NLRB has something to hide regarding decisions that are likely tainted by a defective process, such as the McDonald’s case and the joint employer rulemaking,” Scott wrote in the letter, sent earlier this month. “The Committee is left to conclude that the NLRB’s sole motivation for refusing to produce requested documents is to cover up misconduct.”

The NLRB says that though it has not given the documentation over, it has offered the committee the ability to review some of the documents in private.

“The Committee knows it is not entitled to the documents it is demanding,” Ring said in a statement. “This is a made-up controversy solely for political theater.”

A spokesman for the NLRB called the subpoena “unprecedented,” in a statement, adding the “disclosure of these pre-decisional documents would discourage agency employees from providing candid advice and undermine the internal deliberations of the Board.”

The Committee disagrees, saying that it is entitled to the information that is being shielded from it.

The documentation requested involves the issue of joint employer classification, which is an issue when there is more than one employer involved, such as when one of the employers is a franchise. Joint employer labor issues could have implications for millions of workers at large corporations like McDonald’s.

The NLRB, under President Barack Obama, focused on making it easier for workers to hold joint-employers accountable for their working conditions — such as workers who work for McDonald’s franchisees seeking redress from the McDonald’s Corp. But the Trump administration has worked to narrow these protections.

The first case the committee has sought more information on was a decision made by the NLRB in December to approve a settlement between McDonald’s franchisees and workers that absolved McDonald’s from direct responsibility over workers, as a joint employer — a legal win for the company.

William Emanuel, an appointee to the board by President Trump, was asked to recuse himself by the workers’ lawyers, because he worked for a law firm that had helped set up a hotline for McDonald’s franchise owners to call for legal advice about how to respond to some of the protests by workers, according to the committee and Bloomberg Law.

Emanuel participated in the McDonald’s decision — a violation of an executive order that prohibits appointees from participating in any matter that is “directly and substantially related” to former employers or former clients, said Josh Weisz, a spokesman for the House Education Committee.

The committee also wants more information on the NLRB’s decision to hire a contractor to sort and categorize public comments on the joint-employer rulemaking process.

The NLRB board disagrees that its members have been involved in any conflict of interests.

“There is

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