With the sun shining and winter behind us, comes more reminders and warnings from local bear experts.

Bears are now waking up from their seasonal slumber, which means they’re hungry and on the search for food.

According to Kiersten Shyian, rehabilitation assistant manager at Merville-based MARS Wildlife Centre, “this is the time when babies are being born, and adults are waking up.”

“We want to make sure you’re keeping your distance from any adults or any cubs you might see,” she says. “Definitely clean up, and make sure your garbage is secured. You don’t want any wildlife attractants or anything like that.”

“Same thing with littering and disposing of even just like apple cores out the window or on the side of the road… that can be detrimental to so many species,” Shyian adds.

With this in mind, the B.C. Conservation Officer Service says it’s getting reports of bears out and about in several locations across the province. And already in some cases, complaints.

CO’s are now asking B.C.’ers to take some extra time to check their property, making sure attractants are well secured to avoid bear conflicts. They say garbage, pet food, birdseed, fruit and more can attract bears to residential areas, which can soon turn into a public safety concern.

Earlier this month, North Island conservation officer Brad Adams told Vista Radio “it’s important to make your presence known and be aware of your surroundings, especially if they see signs of bear-like tracks or scat.”

If you do run across a bear, Adam’s reminding you to stay calm, don’t run, make yourself look big, talk to the bear, and let it know you are a person.

As for keeping bears out of the suburbs, Adams says it’s as simple as keeping garbage indoors and avoiding putting trash out the night before pickup.

The Conservation Officer Services says CO’s are patrolling neighbourhoods as part of ongoing public education and outreach efforts to curb wildlife conflicts, adding: “This also includes enforcement efforts, such as issuing fines to residents or businesses who fail to secure attractants.”

Tips on how to secure attractants can be found on the BC Gov website. If you need to report aggressive or threatening bears, call the RAPP line at 1 (877) 952-7277.