British Columbia

More bear reports in B.C. in May than in last 9 years

More than 3,000 calls about bears were made to conservation officers in May of 2019 compared to about 4,500 total in all of 2018.

There were 1,120 more calls in May of 2019 compared to 2018

A black bear trolls driveways for unlatched garbage bins in Port Moody. (Curt Petrovich/CBC News)

Ideal spring conditions have led to more reports in May about bears than in the last nine years in B.C.

It has conservation officers asking the public to be extra vigilant when it comes to keeping bear attractants under wraps.

A total of 3,240 calls about black and grizzly bears were reported to the province last month — 1,183 more than the same period last year, according to data from the B.C. Conservation Officer Service.

By comparison, there were about 4,500 calls in total in all of 2018.

"We're already nearly halfway to last year's total and we're only three months into the [bear] season," noted Insp. Murray Smith.

He believes the spike in numbers could be due to favourable spring conditions. The balanced weather allowed vegetation to flourish, increasing the food supply for bears.

"I think it's just more of a cycle than anything as opposed to an environmental phenomena," he said, adding B.C.'s bear population is now "very healthy."

Lock down your garbage

About two-thirds of the calls came from the Lower Mainland. 

Smith says most people have heeded the services's advice on how to keep bears away from urban areas but one primary problem remains.

"It can be solved very easily by people just making sure their garbage isn't outside and isn't accessible."

He says it will help prevent bears from being habituated to garbage as a food source and protect the animals from being destroyed by officers if conflicts escalate.

If a bear does become an issue, he says it's important to report it early so officers can deal with the animal before it goes into multiple areas.

About the Author

Lien Yeung

@LienYeung

Lien Yeung hosts CBC Vancouver News Weekends. As a multimedia reporter, she has covered stories locally and nationally from coast to coast on television, radio and social media. You can reach her on Twitter @LienYeung or via email at lien.yeung@cbc.ca.

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