More bear sightings cause school lockdowns this season

In recent weeks, bear sightings have prompted schools lockdowns in Fort St. James.

  • Oct. 19, 2016 6:00 a.m.

Students at David Hoy Elementary School get ready for a normal school day

Barbara Latkowski

Caledonia Courier

Bears, bears and more bears.

In recent weeks, bear sightings have prompted schools lockdowns in Fort St. James.

But, why so many more sightings this year as compared to others?

Dave Bakker from the Northern Bear Awareness Society says that there is no such thing as an overfed bear and when it comes to finding food, if hungry, they will keep foraging regardless of location.

“There are many reasons why,” Bakker said. “If there are insecure unnatural attractants around, bears will find it.”

“Environmental issues also play a huge role. Lack of berries, lack of natural food crops, droughts and areas that have been affected by fire will definitely cause more conflicts as well.”

Bears need to gain 30% of their weight in fat before hibernation.

“And they will keep foraging before they go down for the winter,” Bakker said.

Bakker recalls 85 bears being destroyed in the Prince George area in 2010.

“Once animals have entered these areas, they are considered to be habituated. So, they are usually destroyed. It’s proven that once this happens, relocation will not work and bears will have only a 30% chance of survival,” Bakker said.

Bakker also says that once a bear is taken out of an area where she has been accustomed and knows the food sources, she will struggle to survive in a new environment.

“There will be new food sources and the bear will also have to fight against another bear who has already claimed that territory,” Bakker said.

According to the Conservation Officer Services, if you see a bear in your community, remain calm. Often, the bear is just passing through. Keep away from the bear, bring children and pets indoors and notify neighbors.

If the bear is being threatening, persistent or aggressive, contact the Conservation Officer Services at: 1-877-952-RAPP (7277)

For more information about how to eliminate bear attractants and how to be more bear aware, visit: http://www.northernbearawareness.com/

 

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