B.C. Conservation Service. Photo via the
B.C. Conservation Service.
A woman in B.C. has been given the province’s largest ever conservation fine for incessantly feeding eggs to black bears.
Police began investigating Zuzana Stevikova and a man named Oliver Dugan in the summer of 2018 after they got a tip that people in a ritzy neighbourhood in Whistler, British Columbia, were feeding three bears.
In their investigation, they found the woman was going out of her way to purchase food to feed to the bears. In a press release, the B.C. Conservation Officer Service wrote she was buying “bulk produce, including up to 10 cases of apples, 50 pounds of carrots, and up to 15 dozen eggs” weekly so she could feed the bears.
The bears became conditioned to human food and presence and would visit the area, “causing property damage, and exhibiting highly habituated behaviour showing no fear of people.” Eventually, B.C. conservation officers were forced to kill a female bear and two cubs.
“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 conservation service Sgt. Simon Gravel in the press release. “Once bears learn to associate humans with food, it creates a public safety risk.”
In 2020, Stevikova was charged with feeding dangerous wildlife and attracting wildlife. Dugan was also charged but eventually authorities stayed his charges.
Last week, Stevikova was fined $60,000 under the Wildlife Act in B.C.—the biggest fine that’s ever been doled out for such an offence. It had been reported that Stevikova and Dugan faced even stiffer penalties, upwards of $100,000 and even possible jail time.
Not much is known about Stevikova and Dugan but Global News has reported a home owned by an Oliver Dugan in the area had previously been listed for almost $10 million. A sporting article about an Oliver Dugan who owns a vacation home in Whistler indicates he’s a wealthy man who works in finance out of the United Kingdom.
Experts are adamant that it’s almost universally a terrible idea to feed wild animals, especially creatures as large and dangerous as a bear. Still though, that doesn’t stop people from doing it regularly, including one man who was fined $2,000 for hand-feeding bears Timbits in 2018.
The COS called the sentencing “precedent-setting” and “hopes this significant penalty will deter others from similar activity.”
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