Bears that access garbage or other attractants often present dangers to humans (File photo)

Bears that access garbage or other attractants often present dangers to humans (File photo)

Column: Not an easy job being a bear in B.C., try not to make it worse

Great Outdoors by James Murray

By James Murray

Contributor

With each new day there are more and more buds coming out on the trees, the weather has been noticeably warmer and the songbirds have started to return.

I think it would be fair to say that spring is here.

So it’s only a matter of time before a bear, hungry from hibernation, shows up in someone’s yard looking for something to eat.

However, pickings are usually pretty slim this time of year. I mean, it can’t be an easy job being a bear in B.C. nowadays, what with human beings encroaching on their natural habitat, fluctuating and disappearing salmon runs, global warming and trophy hunters, not to mention oil and gas pipelines cutting through their natural territories.

It’s a lot to wake up to after a long winter’s hibernation, especially when you’re feeling grouchy and overly hungry.

Many people, especially in the Interior, have chosen to live in rural and semi-rural areas – areas that bears also call home.

By cutting down trees, clearing land and building homes in places that were once bear habitat, we have inadvertently encroached upon their natural territory. Ironically, it is human development that is displacing bears while at the same time luring them back into the same areas by leaving garbage and other food lying around for them to feed on.

Too many bears have come to associate people with food and subsequently head for landfill sites, dumpsters and people’s backyards in search of an easy meal. This altering of bear behaviour, known as food conditioning, combined with a loss of fear of humans through repeated contact, known as habituation, more often than not results in potentially dangerous, if not disastrous contact/conflict situations. Bears are pretty well always the losers in such situations.

Read more: Increase in Shuswap bear sightings prompts reminder about attractants

Read more: Garbage attracts bears, put it away or face fines: B.C. conservation officers

The most effective way to prevent and/or avert such conflicts is simply to put away or remove any food stuff that might attract bears such as garbage, bird seed, dog food, compost and fruit that has fallen from trees. Keep garbage in the house or in a secured container, garage or shed until pick-up day, and return the containers to their secured site once they’ve been emptied. Pick ripe and fallen fruit daily. Use bird feeders only in winter months and keep the nearby ground free of seeds and nuts. Clean your barbecue after each use and store it in a secured area. Store pet food inside and bring pet dishes inside as well. Do not put meat products or uncooked food into your compost, and keep it covered. And remember, if you do end up confronting a bear in your yard, remain calm and, by all means, keep away from the bear. If possible, bring children and pets indoors. Never approach or attempt to chase a bear as they can move very quickly. Once the bear has left the area, check the yard to ensure there are no attractants that will draw it back.

Most important, avoid contact at all costs. Bears are large, strong, fast and dangerous. They are also unpredictable. Bears also tend to become more brazen when they are hungry, especially when first coming out of hibernation or when they have become starved because natural food sources are limited or no longer available.

A hungry bear will do virtually anything to get at something to eat. A little common sense and due diligence will go a long way in preventing and averting human/bear contacts and conflicts.

Like I said, it’s not an easy job being a bear.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Outdoors and Recreation

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Machinery could be seen working to clear land behind a pair of houses on Main Street for the future site of the Shuswap and Secwepmc Healing Centre, a medical facility on Friday, April 9. The Sicamous Fire Department has been using the buildings for training exercises ahead of their demolition. (Jim Elliot/Eagle Valley News)
Snapshot: Clearing space

Land is being cleared for a new medical centre on Sicamous’ Main Street.

Winter driving conditions returned to the Coquihalla Highway on April 10. (ICBC image)
Coquihalla motorists warned of fresh snow

Five to 10 cm of snow is expected today for the mountain highway.

B.C's COVID-19 dashboard shows the peaks and valleys of cases prior to the record daily report of 132 on April 9, 2021. (Dashboard image)
Interior Health has record day of COVID-19 cases

132 cases reported Friday, April 9, more deaths in Vernon hospital outbreak

School District 83 trustees are leaning towards an option in the school district’s Long Range Facilities Plan that favours making Salmon Arm Secondary’s Sullivan campus and Jackson campus (pictured) both Grade 9-12 schools. (Google maps image)
Letter: Two high school option for Salmon Arm will create ‘have, have not’ situation

Writer concerned with E5 option, says transparent talk about implications needed

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod, seen here on April 9, 2021 with four-year-old sister Elena and mom Vanessa, was born with limb differences. The family, including husband/dad Sean McLeod, is looking for a family puppy that also has a limb difference. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. family looking for puppy with limb difference, just like 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy McLeod born as bilateral amputee, now her family wants to find ‘companion’ puppy for her

This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus.[CDC]
More COVID-19 exposures reported at schools in Kelowna

Interior Health added additional schools and dates to their list of exposures

A vehicle that was driven through the wall of a parkade at Uptown Shopping Centre and into the nearby Walmart on April 9 was removed through another hole in the wall later that night. (Photo via Saanich Police Department and Ayush Kakkar)
Vehicle launched into B.C. Walmart removed following rescue of trapped workers

Crews cut new hole in parkade wall to remove vehicle safely

Four members with Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans were out at Cultus Lake on March 28 and 29 hauling trash out of the waters. (Henry Wang)
PHOTOS: Out-of-town divers remove 100s of pounds of trash from Cultus Lake

Members of Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans hauled out 470 pounds of trash over two days

As of Saturday, April 10, people born in 1961 are the latest to be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. (Black Press files)
B.C. residents age 60+ can now register to get their COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccine registration is now open to people born in 1961 or earlier

A new saline gargle test, made in B.C., will soon be replacing COVID-19 nasal swab tests for kids. (PHSA screenshot)
Take-home COVID-19 tests available for some B.C. students who fall ill at school

BC Children’s Hospital plans to provide 1,200 kits to Vancouver district schools this April

Sun Peaks is tracking rising COVID-19 cases. (Kamloops This Week Photo)
Sun Peaks sees spike in COVID-19 cases at end of ski season

On April 9, there were 15 positive cases confirmed.

Ruming Jiang and his dog Chiu Chiu are doing fine following a brush with hypothermia that saw several people work together to get them out of the Fraser River near Langley’s Derby Reach Park on March 25, 2021 (Special to the Advance Times)
Man finds men who rescued him from drowning in B.C.’s Fraser River

A grateful Ruming Jiang says he will thank them again, this time in person when the pandemic ends

Most Read