The long, dry spell has reduced the amount of food available for bears.
Conservation officers are warning that bears are now out looking for food as they get ready for winter hibernation, so garbage, unpicked fruit, bird feeders, pet food, outdoor freezers, and small livestock can become targets. Bears can eat up to 20,000 calories per day this time of year.
Even though bear related calls are down on average across the province in comparison to last year, WildSafeBC warns residents that the active fall season is about to heat up with regards to human-bear conflicts.
“We’re down about 20 per cent province-wide in terms of bear related calls to the Conservation Officer Service reporting line,” said Frank Ritcey, provincial coordinator of the WildSafeBC program. ”However, that could all change with the fall season. Natural forage has been good with a long wet spring but the dry hot summer could have reduced the availability of natural foods.”
Bears are entering a phase of their yearly cycle called “hyperphagia” a time when they can take in up to 20,000 calories in a single day. It is during this period that they create great stores of fat to make it through their winter hibernation period.
“Garbage, unpicked fruit, bird feeders, pet food, outdoor freezers, and small livestock all become targets for the bears,” warned Ritcey. “Preventing bears from accessing these attractants will help to keep the wildlife wild and our communities safe.”
“The new no garbage set out before 5 a.m. bylaw passed in July has reduced the number of complaints. Last year we had 28 garbage-related complaints from July 9 to Sept. 11. This year we have had 11,” said Daniel Mikolay, WildSafeBC coordinator for Maple Ridge. “We are working to get that number to zero.”
Since the inception of Bear Aware (the fore-runner of WildSafeBC) the annual destruction of bears has dropped from about 1,000 animals a year to approximately 500 animals a year.
WildSafeBC is a program run by the BC Conservation Foundation and more information about the program can be found at wildsafebc.com or they can be followed on Facebook at facebook.com/wildsafebc
Locally, the WildSafeBC community coordinator can be reached at mapleridge@wildsafeBC.ca.
Local sponsors of WildsafeBC are Parks and Leisure, District of Maple Ridge, and Ridge Meadows Recycling Society.
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