Local and provincial WildSafe B.C. officials expect a busy fall bear season in spite of the fact that the number of bear-related calls so far this year has gone down as compared to previous years.
Authorities expect that as bears prepare to fatten up in advance of winter hibernation, the potential for human-bear conflicts will increase.
“We're down about 20 per cent province-wide in terms of bear-related calls to the Conservation Officer Service reporting line,” Frank Ritcey, WildSafe B.C. provincial coordinator, said in a statement issued on Monday (Sept. 6). “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,” when they can take in up to 20,000 calories in a day. During this period 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 warned. “Preventing bears from accessing these attractants will help to keep the wildlife wild and our communities safe.”
Squamish, a Bear Smart-certified community, has had a relatively quiet year bear-wise so far in 2013. But that could change quickly, said Meg Toom, Squamish WildSafe B.C. coordinator.
“Garbage and fruit trees remain the top two attractants that bring bears into close proximity to our neighbourhoods,” she said. “By ensuring all residential garbage totes and commercial dumpsters are locked and by managing fruit trees, we can reduce the frequency and intensity of human-bear conflicts and encourage local bears to forage for natural food.”
Since the inception of Bear Aware (the fore-runner of WildSafeBC), the annual destruction of bears has dropped from about 1,000 animals a year to approximately 500 animals a year.
For more information about WildSafe B.C., visit at wildsafebc.com. Locally, Toom can be reached at email@example.com or (604) 815-5066.