Even though bear related calls are down on average across the province in comparison to last year, WildSafeBC warns residents that the active fall season is about to heat up with regards to human-bear conflicts.
“We’re down about 20 per cent provincewide in terms of bear-related calls to the Conservation Officer Service Reporting line,” says Frank Ritcey, Provincial Co-ordinator of the WildSafeBC program. “However, that could all change with the fall season. Natural forage has been good with a long, wet spring, but the dry, hot summer could have reduced the availability of natural foods.”
Bears are entering a phase of their yearly cycle called “hyperphagia,” a time when they can take in up to 20,000 calories in a single day. It is during this period that they create great stores of fat to make it through their winter hibernation period.
“Garbage, unpicked fruit, bird feeders, pet food, outdoor freezers, and small livestock all become targets for the bears,” Ritcey warns. “Preventing bears from accessing these attractants will help to keep the wildlife wild and our communities safe.”
Emily Lomas, Local WildSafeBC community co-ordinator, says the Thompson- Nicola Regional District has generally followed the same trend seen around the province.
“In Merritt, for example, there were about 13 calls to the reporting line regarding bears as of the end of August. Compare that to the year previous, when there were 60 calls in the same time frame.”
Lomas wants residents to expect bear activity to increase in the fall, and to continue managing any potential attractants.
Since the inception of Bear Aware (the forerunner of WildSafeBC), the annual destruction of bears has dropped from about 1,000 animals a year to approximately 500 animals a year. WildSafeBC is sponsored by the TNRD and the Ministry of Environment.