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Black bear sightings spike province-wide

It’s been a deadly summer for black bears.

The number of bears destroyed by the BC Conservation Service in July jumped considerably from the previous year.

B.C. government statistics show that 55 bears were destroyed by conservation officers last month, compared to 32 last July.

In June, 81 bears were destroyed by the service.

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Bears are destroyed by conservation officers in response to reports of human-wildlife conflict.

Meanwhile, 21 bears were destroyed by ‘other’ across the province last month.

The province defines ‘destroyed by other’ as predators destroyed by other agencies or the public.

The volume of black bear reports has spiked, too.

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Province-wide, there were 2,565 calls to the COS in July compared to 1,651 a year ago.

Combine June and July, and there have been over 6,000 calls.

In June and July of 2018, there were just over 3,800 calls.

The Wildlife Alert Reporting Program map shows 47 black bear sightings in Powell River from July 1st to August 15th.

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Over that same time period, 46 bears were reported in Port Hardy, 34 in Courtenay, and 32 in Campbell River.

Be bear aware

The province and WildSafe BC say little things can make a big difference in avoiding human-bear conflicts.

Among them:

  • Keep your garbage in or secured until the day of collection. Garbage is the number one attractant cited in reports to the provincial hotline.
  • Manage your fruit trees: Don’t let windfalls accumulate and pick fruit as it ripens. If you don’t want the fruit, consider: accessing a fruit gleaning group in your community, washing the blossoms off in the spring so the fruit doesn’t set, or replacing the tree with a non-fruit bearing variety.
  • Don’t put out bird feeders when bears are active: A kilo of bird seed has approximately 8,000 calories and is a great reward for a hungry bear.
  • Keep your compost working properly with lots of brown materials and a regular schedule of turning.
  • If you have livestock or backyard chickens use a properly installed and maintained electric fence to keep bears and livestock apart.

BC Conservation Officer Gordon Gudbranson says when you’re out hiking or walking, you should always be bear aware.

“What you want to do is make lots of noise when you’re out walking, especially along rivers and trails. If you do see a bear you want to make yourself known, talk to them and slowly back away.”

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If you do see a bear, call the conservation service at 1-877-952-7277.

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