Bear conflicts and sightings down locally and provincially

The issue of problem bears has improved over last year but experts say residents still need do their part.

Caught in the act — a brown bear reaches up to search a tree for edibles.

Caught in the act — a brown bear reaches up to search a tree for edibles.

Bear conflicts and sightings have dropped significantly in Castlegar and throughout B.C. this year but both the local and provincial WildsafeBC coordinators say that’s no reason for residents to become complacent in doing their part.

“It has been a slower bear season than last year across the province, but has been even quieter in Castlegar,” said Jenny Wallace, Castlegar WildsafeBC community coordinator. “Locally, we are still down in calls of conflicts and sightings by 75 per cent from this time last year. Also, there have been far fewer bears destroyed this year, with no bears destroyed in Castlegar since the spring.”

Wallace said the reduction in conflicts and sightings was no reason for people to pay less attention to managing attractants on their properties but described the situation as “good news.”

She added she hopes the quieter season means residents have been making an efforts to manage attractants on their properties.

“We’re down about 20 per cent province-wide in terms of bear related calls to the Conservation Officer Service Reporting line,” said Frank Ritcey, provincial coordinator of the WildSafeBC program, ”However, that could all change with the fall season. Natural forage has been good with a long wet spring but the dry hot summer could have reduced the availability of natural foods.”

Ritcey says bears are entering a phase of their yearly cycle called “hyperphagia,” a time when they can take in up to 20,000 calories in a single day. It is during this period that they create great stores of fat to make it through their winter hibernation period.

“Garbage, unpicked fruit, bird feeders, pet food, outdoor freezers, and small livestock all become targets for the bears,” warned Ritcey. “Preventing bears from accessing these attractants will help to keep the wildlife wild and our communities safe.”

WildSafeBC is a program run by the BC Conservation Foundation and more information about the program can be found at wildsafebc.com or they can be followed on Facebook at facebook.com/wildsafebc

Locally you can reach your WildSafeBC community coordinator at: castlegar@wildsafebc.com or call 250-365-8971. You can also find information on local bear activity and attractant management tips on Facebook at “WildsafeBC Castlegar”.

In Castlegar, WildSafeBC is sponsored by Columbia Basin Trust, City of Castlegar, RDCK, and the BC Ministry of Environment.