British Columbia

Bear encounters spike in B.C. new numbers show

There was a sharp spike in the number of bear calls in B.C. last month, particularly in the suburbs west of Victoria.

Bear calls are up five-fold between Sooke and Colwood

Conservation officers and police were called out after a large black bear and her cub were spotted near Royal Bay Secondary in Colwood on Tuesday. The bears eventually left the area on their own. (CHEK )

There was a sharp spike in the number of bear calls in B.C. last month, particularly in the suburbs west of Victoria.

There was a five-fold increase in bear calls in the area including Colwood, Langford, Metchosin and Sooke in September compared with last year, (up from 33 to 143 calls), according Frank Ritcey of WildSafeBC.

There was a five-fold increase in bear encounters in the communities of Sooke, Metchosin, Colwood and Langford in September 2015, according to WildSafeBC. (WildSafe B.C.)

Just yesterday, conservation officers were called out to deal with a mother bear and cub who climbed a tree near a school in Colwood.

The bears eventually came down on their own and conservation officers said there is a good chance the bears will find their own way out of the area.

Ritcey said bear calls are up across the province nearly 50 per cent this September (from 3009 up to 4425 calls) because it's been harder for them to find food.

Black bear encounters were up in August across B.C. compared with 2014. (WildSafeBC)

"Typically the fall is our busiest time of year throughout the province for bear encounters, but this year especially given the long hot dry summer and the berry crops finishing up earlier than normal."

The berry shortage sends the bears into human communities looking for food.

"Quite often that's what happens, the bears turn their attention to food that they will find in an urban or agricultural setting and that is when the conflict numbers really increase."

The encounters in B.C. communities likely won't decline until most bears go into hibernation in late November. In the meantime he advises people take extra precautions.

"With the bear calls being up, we encourage everyone to be a little more cautious when out hiking."

With files from Megan Thomas

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