Province says outdoorsman's hand feeding of black bear ill-advised but not illegal
The scent of beaver meat in an ATV rider's lunch pack captured the attention of a black bear in northern Alberta earlier this year and led to a close encounter between the man and the wild animal.
Zack Brown, who lives in Edmonton, tells CTV that he was on a quad ride with an outfitting group on May 23 at a location close to High Level when he spotted the bear.
"I slowed down my squad and waited for it to come closer," Brown told CTV. "Once it was within arm's reach, I held out the meat."
Brown recorded the encounter as the bear approached and came within inches of him before the wild animal removed the meat off the end of a tool Brown was holding. The bear proceeded to walk off following the encounter.
The office of Alberta's Justice and Solicitor General, which oversees Alberta Fish & Wildlife, says Brown's actions were dangerous for both him and the bear but not illegal under the Wildlife Act given the location where the feeding occurred.
"Although there are laws that prohibit the feeding of wildlife within certain areas such as national parks, provincial parks and provincial recreation areas, there is no general provision under Alberta’s Wildlife Act that prohibits the feeding of wildlife on other lands including unoccupied crown lands and privately held lands," explained Carla Jones, Justice and Solicitor General spokesperson in a statement issued to CTV on Thursday.
"However, the interaction depicted in the video is unsafe for both the person and the bear. As public safety is our first priority, we would like to discourage members of the public from this type of activity, and remind them not to feed or approach wildlife. Conflicts with wildlife can arise and become very problematic when animals learn to associate people with food."