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British Columbians urged to watch out for bears on the move this fall

People across the province are being reminded to be “bear aware” as fall approaches.

Fall is a time of increased bear activity across the province, as black bears are trying to consume a large amount of food in preparation for their winter dormancy, says the wildlife charity the Fur-Bearers.

British Columbians are urged to clean up attractants like ripened fruit and unsecured garbage to discourage bears from coming into communities.

When those attractants are secured or cleaned up, it invites black bears and other wildlife to seek food in urban areas, where they can become reliant on those food sources, says the charity.

Unfortunately, that creates the potential risk that those food-habituated bears will be killed by conservation officers.

<who> Photo Credit: 123rf

“The climate crisis is causing extreme weather events like the droughts and wildfires that BC has experienced this year,” says Aaron Hofman, director of advocacy and policy at The Fur-Bearers.

“These events may impact the natural food availability of bears, who will seek food sources in human environments. When black bears begin approaching human spaces, they are often killed – and this is entirely preventable.”

The Fur-Bearers say an average of 118 black bears are killed in September due to unsecured food attractants, based on government data over the past decade.

In 2022, the wildlife charity learned that 500 black bears were killed across BC.

Prince George led the way with 32 black bears killed, followed by Nelson (21), Castlegar (14), Okanagan Falls (12), Revelstoke (12), West Kelowna (12), Nanaimo (10) and Port Alberni (10).

“Every resident in British Columbia can take simple steps to prevent unnecessary deaths of black bears by appropriately managing their garbage and compost, removing ripe fruits and berries, and doing a seasonal attractant check around their homes,” says Hofman.

The Fur-Bearers encourages all British Columbians to report wildlife feeding or unsecured attractants to their local government, First Nation or the BC Conservation Officer Service RAPP Line at 1-877-952-7277.

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