There are many more bears roaming the Kootenays compared to last year, warns Selkirk-Purcell WildsafeBC community coordinator Rosie Wijenberg.
She said that while out conducting entomology research, she noticed more black bears with cubs and more juvenile bears roaming near communities.
“Nelson is one of the areas where I’ve just been seeing a million bears,’ said Wijenberg. “That’s where I’ve been working in the hills, up behind nelson, and I’ve seen lots of bears up in there. Creston, actually less than other areas, more so in the West Kootenays.”
She suggests backcountry enthusiasts bring bear spray and sing loudly to ward off potential encounters.
As for bear bangers (explosive fire crackers) , Wijenberg said if used improperly by accidentally throwing them behind a bear, it could force them to run at you rather than away. Also, since bears are extremely smart, bear bangers could signal human activity which may have the opposite effect of attracting bears towards the noise from great distances.
As for bear that are already acclimated to human activity, Wijenberg warns of behavior that may seem less threatening.
“A lot of my areas are not that far from town, but not in town,” Wijenberg added. “So bears are used to people. They might almost seem friendly or not worried about you. That doesn’t mean that they’re not dangerous.”
While summer turns to autumn, the harvest season is in full swing. This means fruit trees will ripen, and unless picked, fruit will fall to the ground and rot attracting pests including bears.
“Once a bear gets a reward from a fruit tree, they will return to the tree again and again,” WildsafeBC released in a statement. “Although fruit might seem like a natural food source for these bears, fruit in our backyards leads to habituation of wildlife – something that is dangerous and cannot be undone.”
Wijenberg suggested that locals with fruit trees invite the community to pick the fruit or contact services like Creston’s Harvest Share.
Preventative measure include removing the blossoms of a fruit tree in the spring to avoid fruit all together, or installing an electric fence. Visit wildsafebc.com/electric-fencing to view electric fencing guidelines and checklists.