B.C. bear sightings increase as animals prepare for winter
Advocates ask residents to keep garbage secured indoors
They've been seen in backyards, trees and even at weddings. It seems bears are everywhere these days in B.C.
For many residents in bear-dense communities such as those on Metro Vancouver's North Shore, seeing the animals is becoming routine.
"I peeked out the window one morning, oh about four o'clock or something, and I was looking out and I couldn't see anything because he was right beside the house," said North Vancouver resident Jocelyn Goodman.
Sightings for the year are up to 4,400, close to 1,500 more than this time last year.
"The big part is the failure of the berry crop ... so bears didn't have natural foods to go to and then they came into our communities," said Frank Ritcey, a provincial co-ordinator with WildSafe BC.
The North Shore Black Bear Society has been out canvassing in neighbourhoods, trying to help residents keep their properties from being a draw for the animals and providing advice for what to do if they see a bear.
"Peoples' natural instincts are to scream and run — that's the opposite of what you should do," said the North Shore Black Bear Society's Christine Miller. "We tell people to stay calm, speak calmly to the bear and slowly back away. That way you're letting the bear know that it's not a threatening situation."
Bear sightings are expected to keep increasing as the animals prepare for hibernation, which requires them to consume up to 20,000 calories a day — the equivalent of four and half turkey dinners with all the fixings.
"They are so food driven that if they get access once to a high calorie reward like garbage, they're coming back time and time again," said Ritcey.
Ritcey adds residents should keep their garbage secured indoors and only put it out in bins on the mornings of collection.
Conservation officers can fine residents up to $230 if they have left trash out in what is considered a high-risk area.
With files from the CBC's Megan Batchelor