WildSafe BC confirmed last week that the sow and her two cubs frequenting city limits this fall have moved into winter denning, but are unsure if they will return next year.
Last week, WildSafe and the local conservation officer gave the City and RDCK the green light to reopen the Great Northern Rail trail to the public again.
In a follow-up email with Vista Radio, WildSafe BC’s Lisa Thomson explained that the sow’s collar indicates she has moved to higher elevation into her denning site.
It’s assumed her cubs joined her; however, they do not have radio collars to confirm their departure, but there have been no reported sightings for over a week.
As for the grizzlies returning next season, Thomson said it is unknown.
“We will have to wait and see, then address accordingly. Hopefully, all feral fruit trees will have been removed by then, and people are more dialed in with their fruit tree management.”
Even though the grizzlies have moved on, Thomson said the risk of wildlife interactions has not diminished.
She said as the cold weather approaches, the community can expect increased conflict with rats, skunks and warns that coyote mating season is approaching.
“Moving into winter, residents can expect to come into conflict with rats and skunks looking for denning sites around our homes. In the new year, it will be coyote mating season. They can become more aggressive toward people and pets, so keeping dogs on a leash, and even carrying bear spray is a safe measure.”
She added that increased cougar activity is also a risk with deer and elk seeking food sources at lower elevations and encourages the same bear spray and dog walking measures as a precaution.
Like the grizzlies, the WildSafe program in Nelson will also be going into hibernation soon. The program was extended a few weeks, but it will pause until the spring on Dec. 22.
Thomson took to Facebook last week to express her appreciation for the community’s vigilance over the last few months.
“Thank you to everyone who adhered to the closures while the grizzly family frequented the area. Your patience made all the difference to have reduced any human-grizzly conflict.”