News

Don’t stop calling – the life you save could be a bear’s

In the seventh part of our monthly series, The Tri-City News offers some information on the region’s increasingly hungry — and sleepy — bruins, which are getting ready for a long winter’s nap. As well, scientists are looking at bears’ hibernation for ways they might improve humans’ health.  - MANFRED KRAUS PHOTO
In the seventh part of our monthly series, The Tri-City News offers some information on the region’s increasingly hungry — and sleepy — bruins, which are getting ready for a long winter’s nap. As well, scientists are looking at bears’ hibernation for ways they might improve humans’ health.
— image credit: MANFRED KRAUS PHOTO

Tri-City residents getting used to seeing bears in their neighbourhood shouldn’t get complacent — or let up because the weather has changed — because a fed bear is still a dead bear, says a local conservation officer.

James Kelly, who was this year posted to the Fraser Valley zone, which includes the Tri-Cities, says it’s important to call in any bear sightings. Fall is the time for high activity for bears and if conservation officers get good information about them early, they can head off problems before they start.

“Options do, however, become limited when they become habituated to garbage and humans,” Kelly said in an interview last week with The Tri-City News.

Kelly said he’s worried people will stop calling about bears getting into garbage for fear that they will be killed. But he says the opposite is true.

If conservation officers hear about problem bears early, they can clamp down on bear attractants and, with their powers of inspection, have many tools at their disposal to obtain compliance. When people call the Provincial Conservation Officer Service’s 24-hour toll-free line 1-877-952-7277, information is recorded and the details passed on to the local office.

Conservation officers then follow up with a phone call or a site visit, and actions will be taken depending on the severity of the situation.

The goal, however, is not to destroy a bear, which will then simply be replaced by another hungry bear, but to rid the area of attractants such as food waste and ripe fruit, so bruins aren’t encouraged to stay, Kelly said.

“[The information] provides us with a data base and we can see the progression,” he said.

If people don’t call, Kelly said, the problems could get worse and “we are out of options at that point.”

dstrandberg@tricitynews.com

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