It’s time to be bear aware

Its spring and bears are waking up! Its spring and bears are waking up!

  • Apr. 20, 2016 5:00 a.m.

Barbara Latkowski

Caledonia Courier

Its spring and bears are waking up!

With various bear sightings already reported, WildSafe BC urges that people take precautions as these furry fellows begin to forage for food.

Every year, hundreds of bears are destroyed in B.C. as a result of conflicts between people and bears.

In rare instances, people are injured or even killed as a result but most of these problems begin when people allow bears to access non-natural food sources such as garbage.

The American Black Bear is commonly found in B.C. and has one of the highest populations of black bears in the world with their numbers being somewhere between 120,000 – 150,0000.

Most of B.C. is considered “bear country” with bears inhabiting everything from the coastal forests through to the interior grasslands.

Consequently, calls to the Conservation Reporting Line regarding bear conflicts and bear sightings can range anywhere from 14,000 to 25,000 calls per year.

Black Bear Facts according to WildSafe BC:

–          Adult males measure between 60-90 cm at shoulder height and they weigh anywhere between 80-300 kilograms.

–          -Black bears are not only black. They can come in a variety of different shades of brown.

–          Bears have eyesight and hearing as good as or better than that of humans.

–          Bears have an extremely good sense of smell and can smell food from over a kilometre away.

–          -Adult black bears have few predators in the wild: grizzly bears and wolves are about the only animals that will attempt to kill a full grown black bear.

–          Young black bears may be preyed upon by adult black bears, grizzly bears, wolves, coyotes and cougars.

–          Black bears can live up to 30 years.

–          Black bears are extremely fast and can run equally as well uphill or down.

–          They are omnivorous animals with vegetation making up 80 per-cent of their dietand the remainder from small rodents, fish, insects, carrion, (dead animals) and sometimes young deer, elk or moose.

–          Because bears need such great stores of fat to make it through the winter months, they can consume over 20,000 calories a day.

–          During the denning period, from November to April, bears can lose up to 30 per-cent of their weight.

–          Female bears tend to their young for almost two years and can give birth to as many as five young but twins are more the norm.

–          Cubs are between 2-5 kilograms in size when they leave the den in late April.

 

Since we share the same landscape as bears, it’s inevitable that there are going to be times when humans will be confronted with them.

According to WildSafe BC, as long as a bear is moving through a community and not interacting, then there will be no conflict. There are many situations when a bear will move through a community especially when trying to access natural food sources such as fish.

“The best way to avoid conflict is to keep bears from being food-conditioned and from being human habituated.

Here are some tips to keep the community safe:

–          Store garbage in a secure building or in a tightly closed bin

–          Regularly wash all recycling items and clean bins that contain garbage or recycling

–          Do not leave garbage in the back of a truck

–          If you have fruit trees, pick fruit daily as it ripens and consider using electric fencing to protect them

–          If you have bird feeders, take them in at night

–          Feed your pets indoors

–          Clean barbeques after each use

–          Never leave a cooler outside unless it has been thoroughly cleaned

–          Thin out brush to reduce natural cover close to buildings and along paths

–          Install motion- sensor lighting detectors to discourage lingering bears

–          When camping, do not have food in your tent, use bear resistant garbage containers, keep your site garbage and odour free and cook and eat away from your tent.

–          Avoid hiking alone

–          Carry bear spray

–          For more information regarding bears and safety precautions visit: bc@wildsafebc.com