Bear sightings are on the rise as black bears bulk up for winter on the Coast.
“There was a lull for a couple of weeks towards the end of August, first week in September, but a couple of weeks ago the calls just quadrupled again,” said Kim Drescher, Bear Aware coordinator for the Sunshine Coast.
“This is the hot time of year for the increase in human/bear conflicts because bears get into a state of hyperphasia. They're being told now they've got to really start eating to get ready for hibernation.”
Hibernation on the Coast is later than in some areas because of our warmer climate, Drescher said, but she expects most bears to find a den and settle down by the end of November.
Until then, she cautions the public to be vigilant with keeping their garbage indoors, picking ripe fruit and nuts and taking down bird feeders, which could attract the hungry animals.
“They need to take in 10,000 to 20,000 calories a day if they can. That's a lot of Big Macs, and once they become food conditioned to garbage, they'll often go for that more because there's a lot more calories in our garbage than there is in some of the natural foods that are still around,” Drescher said.
“Garbage is still the number one killer of bears, and I know it sounds like a redundant message but it's just something that we have to keep reminding ourselves.”
She noted that leaving a food source accessible to bears could increase the length of time they stay in the area, avoiding hibernation.
“So if there is still garbage around you might have an odd bear that's just denning, not hibernating. If there's still a food supply, they may come out once in a while,” she said.
Drescher visited Gibsons council this week asking them to look at purchasing a bear-proof garbage can for one of their parks. The cans cost about $1,000 and Drescher wants governments and service groups to seriously consider the purchase, noting the garbage receptacles can be fitted with a logo of the sponsor.
“Getting bear-proof garbage bins in all the parks and high conflict areas is a goal,” she noted.
To find out more or to purchase a bear-proof garbage container, contact Drescher by email at email@example.com or call 604-885-6800, ext 6476.
More information about coexisting in bear country can be found at www.bearaware.bc.ca.