Grizzly bears spotted at Nancy Greene park

“At this point, we are just warning people to steer clear.” - Sharon Weider, WildSafe BC.

Grizzly bears have been on the prowl around Nancy Greene Provincial Park and while a sighting may seem rare, Sharon Wieder with Wildsafe BC, says the bears are becoming more and more common in the area.

“Over the last two or three years, conservation officers and biologists have noticed at least two different sows that have been having cubs and hanging out in that neighbourhood,” she said, adding that once a female bear sets up shop in an area, they tend to stay there for years.

Sightings have been coming in more and more frequently, because one of the area’s momma bears has picked up the habit of foraging for food along the highway near the park, bringing her cubs with her.

“The grizzlies are very habitual,” said Wieder. “That sow may have grown up in this area, and now has her own cubs. The things they learn from their mother, they will keep and pass on to their own cubs.”

Grizzly bears have a fierce reputation for deadly encounters with humans out in the wild, and in recreation areas. Wieder says there is plenty Nancy Greene Provincial Park users can do to prevent an avoidable incident.

“At this point, we are just warning people to steer clear,” she said, adding that one sighting in the area on May 30, saw two grizzlies venturing closer to humans than usual.

“If there are people around and making noise, then generally the grizzlies aren’t going to come near. But, if it was as hot as it has been, they do love to swim.”

To avoid a deadly grizzly confrontation, Wieder says one of the key things is not to go anywhere in the wild alone, or even in pairs and to keep food locked up when out at the park.

“The best thing is to be in groups. Research has shown that nobody in a group of three or more has ever been attacked by a grizzly,” she said. “Grizzlies also have noses that are like 100 times better than a dog. They are going to smell your lunch from three miles away.”

Anyone who sees a grizzly, or any kind of bear, can report the sighting to Wildsafe BC and it will then be plotted on the Wildlife Alert Reporting Program (WARP).

“It is good to report it just so people know where the bears are and to be extra careful around there,” she said. “We can get the message out with things like Facebook and on the WARP map.”

For more information on local wildlife sightings, visit www.wildsafebc.com/warp.