As we leave behind a quiet summer that saw a considerable drop in bear activity compared to 2012, and head into a critical feeding time for bears, a reminder to manage wildlife attractants is timely.
Ample summertime food in the form of berries provided local bears with natural forage and reduced the need for them to access non-natural food in our neighbourhoods.
However, as expected with the onslaught of cooler weather, we are experiencing an increase in bear activity. Hibernation is just around the corner and bears have entered a period of increased feeding called hyperphagia. Bears can lose up to one-third of their weight during hibernation, so packing on the pounds now is critical to survival in the den.
Some of us may have relaxed our attractant management habits but now, more than ever, we need to practice good neighbourly housekeeping. Securing wildlife attractants is a twelve-month process, regardless of how busy (or quiet) a wildlife year we experience.
This year to date, only one bear has been destroyed by the Conservation Officer Service. This bear was previously relocated and because of its level of human habituation and non-natural food conditioning, it was not a candidate for a second relocation. One bear was relocated after spending the winter in Critter Care, being the only survivor from a family of four that was hit on the highway in September 2012. Another bear was recently relocated out of the downtown core. This healthy, 500-pound male, with no previous history, was given the opportunity to forage on natural food away from residential neighbourhoods.
Highway 99 claimed the lives of a mother and cub in the spring and another mother and cub this fall. The District of Squamish continues to work with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to address concerns related to the highway, the safety of motorists and the conservation of wildlife.
The bobcat that chased and attacked numerous off-leash dogs hasnít generated any further calls to the Conservation Officer 24-hour hotline, and cougar activity has been limited to sightings. Please continue your good efforts to keep our community safe while keeping wildlife wild.
To report circumstances that may attract wildlife, please call the Bylaw Department at (604) 815-5067 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Please phone in sightings or encounters to the Conservation Officer RAPP line at 1-877-952-7277 or #7277 on cell. For information on Squamish wildlife, call (604) 815-5066 or email@example.com
Meg Toom is WildSafe B.C. coordinator for the District of Squamish.