The warm weather in Trail this past week has drawn a certain furry visitor out of its deep winter slumber and led him, or her, to enjoy a walkabout in Glenmerry neighbourhoods.
While it’s unusual to see a black bear out of hibernation this early in the year, Ben Beetlestone, from BC Conservation, says it is not causing a public safety concern and appears to be healthy, so no intervention is required.
“My understanding is that it’s in great shape and looks healthy, so there’s nothing to say that it needs any assistance. This bear just decided to go for a walk,” Beetlestone explained.
“I suspect when the colder weather comes again, that it’s going to wander back to wherever it’s been sleeping the past few months,” he said.
“It’s old enough to survive on its own, and when we look at the matrix and all the information that’s out there when we work with wildlife, we’ll determine if this is a safety concern and if there are health issues. And the answer is ‘No,” to both of those. So nothing needs to be done.”
The most important role for all Trail residents to take ownership in, is to be vigilant in managing garbage and all other attractants so the bear does not follow its nose to unnatural food sources.
“It’s still in half-hibernation mode, their metabolism isn’t running like it does when a bear wakes up in the spring, and there is nothing now saying that it needs to eat to survive,” Beetlestone cautioned.
“But it’s still a bear and could get into food.”
The bottom line is for people to leave it alone and keep their distance, he stressed.
“And put your garbage away,” Beetlestone said.
“This is just another reminder, that if it’s not a bear, it could be a bobcat, coyote, raccoon, whatever. Securing your garbage is a good rule of thumb throughout the year, and people of Trail know that.”
WildSafeBC Provincial Coordinator Vanessa Isnardy, BSc, relays much the same message.
“To have a bear still active at this time of year, and especially a young bear, is unusual,” she told the Trail Times.
She says reporting the bear sightings to the Conservation Officer Service is the proper place to start, as they are the best equipped and have the authority to act in this instance.
“In the meantime, it is important that the bear not access human sources of food,” Isnardy said. “This would potentially set the stage for future conflicts with humans. Bear outcomes are best when they have a natural wariness of humans and have not associated us with potential food rewards such as bird seed, garbage, fruit or others,” she advised.
“If the bear enters a yard, keep pets and people inside so that it interacts as little with humans as possible. Ensure that all pet food is kept indoors.”
Bears are very resilient and resourceful.
“While we cannot speak to the outcome of this individual bear, we do know that the numbers of black bears in B.C. are very high, estimates of 140,000+,” Isnardy said.
“This is because they are generalists that can adapt to a variety of ecosystems and food sources and they are quite tolerant of people. However, they are also large animals that can inflict harm in some encounters. While this is very rare, all wild animals should be treated with respect and we should do what we can to let them be wild and live their lives with as little human interference as possible.”