Last year, Squamish saw an all-time low in the number of black bears killed or relocated as a result of urban interaction.
On Tuesday (Feb. 25), WildSafe B.C. community coordinator Meg Toom delved into last year's statistics at the District of Squamish's Committee of the Whole meeting. Four black bears were relocated and one destroyed, the lowest numbers in eight years.
However, Toom's report warned those figures may not be something to celebrate. In 2012, 12 bears were shot, which may have impacted the population size the following year.
In 2013, calls to the Conservation Officer Service regarding black bears fell to 2009 levels. Of the public reports, 24 per cent dealt with garbage attractants and seven per cent regarded fruit trees.
Squamish has a lot of fruit trees in people's backyards, Toom noted. The Squamish Climate Action Network (CAN) partnered with WildSafe B.C. to harvest the food and donate it to local food banks. Last year, 1,700 pounds of fruit was acquired. But the amount of food left on the trees far exceeds the scope of the picking program, the report added.
Last year marked the first reported incident of a bobcat attacking dogs. All the pets approached by the big cat were off-leash on trails, Toom said. Signage was posted to warn hikers of the animal's presence.
While social media has helped spread awareness regarding human and wildlife conflicts, the platform has also hurt the conservation hotline. Instead of phoning officers, residents post their encounters on Facebook, resulting in an elevated atmosphere of fear and misinformation, Toom said.
Wildsafe B.C. will continue to host community workshops and school events. Last year more than 650 students participated in wildlife talks.
WildSafe B.C. also plans to help the district with necessary education and support for a chicken co-op, Toom said. The initiative also plans to hold further meetings on non-authorized camping in Squamish.
Squamish's program educating people about eliminating wildlife attractants is one of the most progressive in B.C. and has become a part of Squamish's fabric, Toom said.
The initiative has expanded with the community's needs, Coun. Patricia Heintzman noted.
“I think this is an important aspect in living in a mountain environment,” she said.