Bear activity up significantly this year

"...they’ll probably still be going well into November or until we get some significant snow fall.” ~ Sharon Wieder

This year was all about the bears, and it isn’t over yet.

Bruins are still around seeking food before they curl up in their dens, says the local community coordinator for WildSafe BC.

“Sightings have settled down from where they were the beginning of October,” explained Sharon Wieder. “But given how poor the natural food source was this summer, they’ll probably still be going well into November or until we get some significant snow fall.”

Typically, bears den in the higher elevations when food supply becomes scarce and remain there until snow melts and food starts to grow in early spring, she added.

“It’s an interesting pattern, and the last few years we had a bubble of activity in June.”

Black bear sightings began earlier than usual this year, Wieder noted. Following a quiet period in June and July, sows and cubs were frequently sighted in urban areas throughout late summer and fall.

“It was definitely an atypical year,” she said. “We had a fair bit of bear activity in the spring which is not normal, and then mid-August things kind of exploded again.”

WildSafeBC documented the spike in local bear calls. According to the organization’s data, 47 bear reports from the Rossland/Trail area came in August compared to three in 2014. September’s call volume more than doubled to 76 from 33 last year, then October slowed down with 45 reports compared to 41 in 2014.

Sadly, fewer call outs last month could be related to number of bears killed rather than their return to natural habitat, says WildSafe BC’s provincial coordinator, Frank Ritcey.

“What happens is they (bears habituating urban areas) are destroyed once a level of conflict is reached and the bears become a safety concern.”

WildSafe couldn’t confirm how many bears were killed since spring, but Wieder says the number is much higher than last year.

“I don’t have specifics, and bears have been killed in the last few weeks,” she added, mentioning reports of “wildlife in trap” means a destroyed bear. “But in general, it’s safe to say the number of bears destroyed is triple that of last year.”

The hot and dry summer decimated natural forage early, Wieder explained, noting garbage and garden odours drew a high number of bears to residential neighbourhoods.

“They are attracted to the smell of leftover food,” she pointed out.

“And part of the reason so many bears were in town, and a big one we highlighted this year, is the fruit trees are super loaded. If people don’t manage them, it’s a great attractant.”

Even though bears will soon be in hibernation, people should be thinking about next year and ways they can better manage refuse and bountiful produce.

“Anytime between now and next spring is a great time to get trees pruned and make them more manageable,” she said.

“Or if you don’t want them – take the trees out. Same goes with grapes, because we had lots of reports about that this year, which was unusual.”

The bottom line is food keeps the bears around urban areas, so it there’s nothing to eat, they’ll go away.

“People should talk to their neighbours who maybe aren’t as thoughtful about it,” Wieder suggested.

“If they don’t clean the mess up then you are going to have a bear in your yard as well.”

She maintains the WildSafe BC message about eliminating attractants is getting out to the masses, and backs that up by the increased calls for information about bear resistant garbage cans.

And she has sage advice for local wildlife observers.

“Sure it’s fun to watch the bears,” Wieder said. “But if they are too used to people – then it’s a sure death sentence.”

Just Posted

Adrian Moyls is the Selkirk College Class of 2021 valedictorian and graduate of the School of Health and Human Services. Photo: Submitted
Selkirk College valedictorian proves mettle in accomplishment

Adrian Moyls is a graduate of the School of Health and Human Services

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

The pilot of this single-engine propeller plane was unhurt after crash-landing in a Como Road orchard Friday, June 18. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Plane crash lands into Grand Forks orchard, pilot injured

RCMP have secured the crash site, pending investigation by Transport Canada

Author John Vaillant joins Lisa Moore and Fred Wah for Elephant Mountain Literary Festival’s Alumni Reading on Friday, July 9. All three authors were featured at the inaugural festival in 2012. Photo: Submitted
FESTIVAL TALES: When 2012 meets 2021

The Elephant Mountain Literary Festival will include authors from the event’s inaugural year

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interior Health COVID-19 cases falling slower than the rest of B.C.

More than a third of provincial cases announced Thursday came from the Interior

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

Bella Bella is on B.C.’s Central Coast, accessible only by air and ocean. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
B.C. provides $22 million for Heiltsuk development on Central Coast

Elders care home project, tourism, lumber mill supported

Most Read