Bear Alliance explains phone numbers on site

A non-profit that provides education and resources about bears on the Sunshine Coast is offering alternative phone numbers the public can call when dealing with bear-related issues.

“When you report a bear sighting or an attractant issue to the Sunshine Coast Bear Alliance you aid us in educating our community and helping with our mission to keep our coast bears alive and wild,” says the Sunshine Coast Bear Alliance’s website.

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The group offers three options for reporting bear sightings, but the Conservation Officer Service’s RAPP hotline for reporting bear conflicts isn’t one of them.

Instead, people are encouraged to email the Bear Alliance to report “non-emergency human-bear conflicts” or in case of emergency are advised to call Critter Care Wildlife in Langley. The group also provides a number for “local rehabilitation assistance.”

In an email to Coast Reporter, Bear Alliance spokesperson Diane Henley explained that number is a “a local group who have been involved with helping injured or orphaned wildlife and facilitating transport to the likes of Critter Care. The group also provides assistance to install electric fencing to protect small livestock and also does door-to-door educational canvassing regarding bears and garbage and attractant management.”

Henley says the group isn’t discouraging people from calling COS or WildSafe BC, which she said “provides excellent education,” but the group believes “certain policies within the Conservation Service are resulting in reluctance by groups such as ours and the general public to call the Conservation Service.”

She said if residents call the COS “and a bear is deemed a ‘safety risk,’ there is the likelihood that bear will be trapped and killed, as relocation is not seen as an effective solution at this time in B.C.”

The group would call COS if a bear was exhibiting predatory or aggressive behaviour, said Henley, and “if an orphaned cub was located we could vie for the COS to take that cub to a cub rehabilitation centre such as Critter Care.”

COS did not provide a comment about the phone numbers.

As of Sept. 22, six bears have been destroyed on the Sunshine Coast in 2020.

Twenty-two black bears were killed between April 2019 and January 2020.

COS Sgt. Dean Miller said there is a correlation between weather and natural food supply.

“Climate changes in temperate rainforests, such as the Sunshine Coast, has an impact on natural food supplies,” he said, adding this year has seen near normal rainfall.

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