A bear stands in a field of hemlock parsley. (Courtesy Doug Jones)

A bear stands in a field of hemlock parsley. (Courtesy Doug Jones)

Black bears need wild food, not Vancouver Island garbage: B.C. Conservation

May berries be the best treat they find this spring

We’re nearing the time when Vancouver Island bear sightings begin to skyrocket exponentially, according to the B.C. Conservation Officer Service, and with it comes a few important reminders.

Bears are wild creatures even if you spot them in a parking lot, or lumbering down an urban street.

They, like us, love high-carb, calorie-dense human food, but also like us, really should be sticking to more fresh greens and berries.

Human foods, being more calorie dense, will fill up a hungry bear faster than grass, leaves and huckleberries, so it’s easy to understand why they come back for more.

But access to human food risks bears believing that food belongs to them, which can make them territorial over a dumpster, say, and lead to conflict with humans.

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Already during April Wildsafe BC has 43 recorded black bear sightings throughout the Capital Regional District area alone.

By May, that number can be expected to triple, and by June possibly quadruple, based on previous years’ provincial call numbers to the Conservation Officer Service for black bears. Last May alone, conservation officers destroyed 111 black bears across all of B.C. because they had become a threat to humans.

Garbage is by far the primary attractant, based on what conservation officers observe on calls, followed a long way down by fruit trees and the like.

Trash is such a draw for the bruins that some B.C. municipalities have bylaws about garbage storage, and folks can be fined for putting bins out too early for curbside pickup.

So let this be an an annual reminder to keep garbage secured, and food inaccessible to our furry friends. May berries be the best treat they find this spring.

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What attracts black bears by the numbers, from 2014-2018. (WildSafe BC chart)



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