Seven bears were euthanized at the Southend landfill, near the community that is around 200 kilometres northeast of La Ronge.
The bears were culled by a local Government of Saskatchewan conservation officer on July 30 after contractors working at the disposal site asked for help with moving bears from the area.
Troy Hilts, an inspector with the Government of Saskatchewan Compliance and Field Services Branch, says the officer arrived and saw the bears weren’t showing fear towards humans.
He said moving them wasn’t a solution as they would be a danger to humans in another location.
The seven bears were then euthanized and buried at the landfill.
Tom Bird, a lifelong trapper from Southend, said he’s unhappy with how the situation was dealt with.
“So many things could have been done,” he said. “(The bears) could have been live trapped, moved to a different area, and they would have lived happily ever after.”
Bird said he is looking for answers as to why killing the bears was the only solution for the officers.
He said from an Indigenous view point, euthanizing the bears was wrong.
“As a Woodland Cree person, we’ve been taught all our lives: do not shoot anything that you’re not going to use.”
Bird said community members weren’t consulted when the decision to kill the bears was made, and subsequently, weren’t offered the opportunity to take meat, pelts or parts used for medicine from the bears, who were buried at the landfill site.
He said those living and working on Indigenous land need to follow the proper protocols.
“People have to understand, when you come to the First Nations’ traditional land, you’ve got to respect their ways,” he said. “They might not be written (on) paper, but we have certain traditional ways that we practice.”
Hilts said community leadership usually isn’t consulted on bear removal because the conservation officers are working fast to solve what he called, “an immediate public concern.”
The Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation has been meeting about this issue to discuss how to move forward.
An email from a community member in Southend was sent to the provincial government, detailing their disappointment with the decision to euthanize the bears.
(PHOTO: Aerial photo of Southend. File photo.)