It’s especially important to keep bear attractants inside right now as the animals start preparing for hibernation by consuming up to 20,000 calories a day, according to Kim Drescher, the Coast’s Wildsafe BC community coordinator.
“Some will forage for up to 20 hours in a day,” Drescher said. “It is a critical time to remain vigilant with our attractants: pick ripened and fallen fruit, keep bird feeders and pet food inside, aerate compost, clean barbecues, store refuse in a secure container inside and erect a properly installed and maintained electric fence around the perimeter of that which you want to protect, such as chickens or crops.”
Conservation officers on the Coast have destroyed 10 bears in the past three months and Drescher fears that this time of year could signal more human-bear conflicts if Coasters aren’t careful.
“Bears have a keen sense of smell, 2,100 times better than us, and extraordinary memory capabilities,” Drescher said. “Sadly, it only takes just one taste of our garbage, a non-natural food attractant, and the bear is addicted.”
Once a bear is addicted to garbage it can become aggressive to get it and it will rarely leave the area of the food source for long.
Conservation officers usually don’t relocate those problem bears because the move often ends in the bear starving to death or becoming prey in a new environment.
The relocated bears that do survive also sometimes come back.
“The local conservation officer told a story of one local bear that was translocated to the Lower Mainland,” Drescher said. “The male black bear was tagged and placed near the Mission/Chilliwack area and, despite being shot and injured along the way, he still made it back to Langdale. Relocation usually does not work. ”
Conservation officers aren’t quick to destroy bears, however.
“We’ve had 350 bear calls to date,” said Conservation Officer Murray Smith, noting bear sightings are tracked and only bears considered to be a threat to the public are put down. “We’re very, very cautious on which bears we destroy.”
Drescher doesn’t want to see any more bears destroyed this year, so she’s urging the public to take their role in attracting the animals seriously.
“We can change our behaviour — the bears cannot,” she said. “We have chosen to live in an area that directly interfaces with prime habitat for wildlife. Blame cannot be put upon the conservation officer service nor the bears; it is our responsibility to safely co-exist and to help keep wildlife wild.”
The Sunshine Coast Wildsafe BC program is mandated to provide support and education to the community in an effort to reduce human-wildlife conflict.
Find out more on their Facebook page, at www.wildsafebc.com or call 604-885-6800, ext. 6476. If you see a bear you believe is a threat to public safety, report it by calling 1-877-852-7277 or #7277 on your cell phone.